SINGLE REVIEWS: The Latest From The Greatest

Power to the "People".

Power to the “People”.

Looks like Quarter One is in full swing for the music biz, at least when it comes to the mainstream releases. The big names are starting to come out with the next singles from their current projects, so be on the lookout for these three songs to be playing on a station near you shortly.

BRUNO MARS – “When I Was Your Man”
Though a video has been filmed for album track “Young Girls”, “Man” is officially the second radio single from Unorthodox Jukebox, which recently hit the runner-up position on the Albums Chart. Lead single “Locked Out Of Heaven” topped the Hot 100 and is still currently seated there. This song is a complete 180 from those Police vibes we were getting from “Heaven”. It’s a pure pop ballad that may have easily been a big single in the early 90’s with the male protagonist gushing about how he would’ve kept his love if only he did something more and how he misses her so. (First thing I thought of sonically was Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes”.) Mars states that he should have taken his girl to “every party ’cause all you wanted to do was dance / Now my baby is dancing, but she’s dancing with another man.” It’s not like the sentiment is anything new, but the way Mars conveys it can’t help but make you pity the guy. He’s reminded of her when he turns on the radio, goes to sleep at night, etc. He blew it and he’ll never get her back, but he does wish that her new man can completely fill the void that he would’ve fit into. Ballads are still hit or miss at CHR radio, although there are a few that are doing well now. Mars is a big enough name at this point to get decent airplay with whatever he releases, but it may take a slight radio remixing to get any sort of spins at the more Rhythmic-inclined stations. Unfortunately, the song just doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s strong, but it just feels too safe for him, even when he’s belting out the middle 8. Is it a mistake to release it? Probably not. It just may be subjected to a slower rise that many of his other singles, but like those big top 5 hits, this one should eventually get there with a little bit of time.

KELLY CLARKSON – “People Like Us”
Clarkson’s “Catch My Breath” is still building on the radio, but her second mainstream release from Greatest Hits: Chapter One is another electro-pop anthem ready to take the charts by storm, “People Like Us”. Much like her #1 hit “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”, this is another “rally the troops” moment for Clarkson, but on a much wider scale than before. She appeals to the loners, the misfits and everybody who doesn’t neatly fit in to society’s expectations and labels. She sings, “People like us, we’ve gotta stick together / Keep your head up, nothing lasts forever.” Even when we are at the lowest of our low and knocked down, we rebel and take a stand when we “throw [our] fists in the air”, taunting our enemies to “come out if you dare.” It’s a pretty powerful message, especially at a time when our society is exposed to an increased reporting in bullying cases. “People” is a cry to stop the inequality and unjustified actions of those who initiate the evil and bring everyone together to spread the love. Plus, you can dance to it; not to over-simplify it to that extent, but look at all the 80’s new wave acts with loaded electronic tunes that people could still get up and shuffle to. It’s obviously current enough sounding to do well on the radio; question is, how much of a push will it get? It’s from a compilation album, and I’m sure Clarkson is already recording for her next studio album. I guess we’ll see. I’m on board for it, but just cut out the cheesy intro; people are going to automatically compare it to Lady Gaga‘s “Born This Way”. They’re two separate songs and let them be that way. (Clarkson’s tune is way better in this blogger’s humble opinion, but as always, that’s subjective.)

PINK featuring NATE REUSS (of FUN.) – “Just Give Me A Reason”
Pink‘s been having a great era with her album The Truth About Love, which has already produced two huge singles: “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” and “Try”. The third release won’t likely be released in the States until the late Spring, but the singer has stated in at least one interview that it is “Just Give Me A Reason”, a duet with Nate Reuss, the lead singer of the band fun. and formerly of The Format. This is another slow song like the latest offering from Mars, but this was actually picks up with the help of a percussive drum machine line added about 50 seconds into it. It’s your typical work from Jeff Bhasker, which I guess doesn’t make it distinct, but it helps greatly in this case. It still needs a little more oomph to it, but I’m sure the single edit of it will remedy that. The lyrics tell of a couple who are at a crossroads in their relationship: the female is a “willing victim” of a stolen heart but is now fed up with the male, who should tell her that he’s “had enough of our love.” He, in turn, thinks that their problems have all been a misunderstanding and that she’s the real issue for distancing herself from the relationship: she “used to lie so close” to him. They come to the agreement that their love has had its share of faults, and even though it isn’t functioning as well as it did before, they can agree to disagree and “carry on” with their love. It would be a real shame if this tanks, but both artists have the track record to make it a hit, and I can see a late spring/early summer top 5 placing coming out of it should the labels play their cards right. It’s a little bit old-fashioned for CHR radio, but perhaps the survey can continue to skew towards a little older audience in 2013 with all these similar tempo numbers getting a commercial release.

Do you have a favorite of these three releases? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel. Plus, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get the latest on the new big singles out there!

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