At this point, there’s no way you can avoid the Boy Band Revolution that’s taken over the world. Between those youngsters One Direction and bad boys The Wanted, it’s Team Backstreet versus Team *NSYNC all over again. However, there’s one boy band (more like a young man band) that despite some consistent success in the United Kingdom doesn’t really get a lot of coverage and hasn’t had their major breakthrough in the United States… yet.
The quartet calls themselves Lawson. For our Stateside viewers, let’s call them the 98 Degrees of this era. Consisting of three 22-year-olds (Ryan Fletcher, Joel Peat and Adam Pitts) and one 25-year-old (Andy Brown), they’re easy on the eyes, can sing, and all play instruments. The band is named after lead singer Brown’s doctor who performed a surgery on him to remove brain tumor, which was successful. Their album, Chapman Square, was released in the U.K. back in October, and it reached the top five on its debut week. Three singles from it, “When She Was Mine”, “Taking Over Me”, and “Standing In The Dark” have all gone top ten, with the former two hitting the top five. With all that behind them, the band is taking a trip over here to the U.S. and Canada to play a few showcases in January/February in Los Angeles, New York City and Toronto. One can only assume that this means they’re testing the waters for a full-blown promotional campaign here. If it works, then look out for them on the scene in the Spring.
While they attempt to achieve the dream of international stardom, the band is releasing a fourth single from their album in the United Kingdom, a single called “Learn To Love Again”. The song has six co-writers listed on it, which is quite the bunch, but let me spell it all out for you. One writer is the aforementioned Andy Brown. Joakim Berg, Carl Falk, Rami Yacoub and Michel Zitron are all Swedish singers and songwriters. Berg is the lead singer in the band Kent. Falk’s written and produced a number of Pop songs over the years, especially with boy bands like One Direction and Westlife. He also recently worked with Nicki Minaj. Yacoub’s been in the industry for a long time, often working with Falk and super producer Max Martin, whom he worked with on hit singles for the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears earlier in their careers. Lastly, Zitron has been behind several big singles for Swedish House Mafia, including their current one, “Don’t You Worry Child”. Oh, and we can’t forget about Eric Turner. You probably remember him from the chorus of the Tinie Tempah single, “Written In The Stars”. He’s released some solo material since then, but nothing’s stuck on the national charts, so he’s back to songwriting. So, with that untangling done, how about the actual song?
“Learn” is a sort of deviation from their past three singles in that it’s the closest to a dance song they’ve released (at least closer than “Taking”), though it manages to keep their pop/rock sound in toe with a heavy guitar and drum arrangement throughout. The song tells of two lovers who have been through the bad times of a relationship, where the “darkness took its toll” as they were “in the shadows”, but they’ve seem to make it through despite all the negativity surrounding them; Brown croons that “maybe that is how I knew you were the one.” They were lost, but now they are found, sharing in what, in the future, may be the best of times for them together. It’s one of the stronger songs on their album, which I happily imported a while back, so I don’t have any problem with it being released as a single. My main concern is whether it’s going to get lost in the shuffle or not. Even if you saw none of writing or production credits and just heard it sonically, you would automatically say that it was a Swedish House Mafia influenced track, or maybe even Calvin Harris since he’s been riding his recent album for a while. It’s the building pre-chorus with the synthesizers, the drum machine, and the “oh oh oh” chants that just explodes into a more surprising lyric-driven hook. It’s like a weird fusion of the band and both of these producers, but it’s very “Save The World” or “Feel So Close” without being a total club song. It’s generic, but it’s also not generic, because the band is able to back the song up with a meaningful vocal, arrangement, lyrics, etc. It’s complicated.
You can see where the dilemma is. Those dance acts were two of the biggest on the charts in 2013, but if the general public is fatigued of that sound, then it’ll sink. It’s also a fourth single from an album that’s been out for a while, so you would think that if people wanted the song, they would’ve downloaded it already. The February 3 release date attached to it doesn’t help things either. However, if “Learn” was the first single release in the United States, I don’t think that would be such a bad idea. We may have national charts overpopulated with dance music, but we’ve had this happen for far less time than in the United Kingdom. We’re also at a point here where The Wanted just underperformed with their last single release, “I Found You”, and One Direction is climbing with a ballad, “Little Things”, so it would be the perfect time for them to launch a breakthrough with the song. Boy band takeovers usually last a few years at a time, so they best be seizing the moment while they can.
Here’s hoping that 2013 is another great one for the boys and that they’ll get a little “Love” here in the States. They’re got the goods; now, it’s all up to a good backing to get them rocketing to the top of the charts. –AFS