Tag Archives: Same Love

Playing For “Keeps”: Mary Lambert Gives Us Some Extra Love

Not that "Same" old song.

Not that “Same” song.

You’ve heard her voice on the radio for several months now singing the hook of a hit that’s been making a lot of waves because of its strong lyrical content. However, you may not know a lot about the singer herself. She’s 24-year-old Mary Lambert, based out of Seattle, Washington. She’s a spoken word poet, a gay rights activist and now, an unexpected top 40 artist. Lambert is featured on the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis anthem, “Same Love”, with the duo also being from the same region. Now, she’s trying to make it on her own with a song that builds off of that pivotal part of the song. In fact, it reminds me a lot of a similar scenario that happened over a decade ago that also involved a hard-hitting rap single and a more calming followup. Can Lambert go solo nationally now that she’s been exposed to a much wider audience? I think it’s possible, but first, let’s get to know Mrs. Lambert a little more.

Lambert lived a hard life as a child, subjected to abuse and depression. Between moving towns and religious experiences, it was a lot for such a young person. She seemed to find her way in her teens, graduating with a B.A. in Music and Composition in 2011, as well as finding a partner in her girlfriend Rachel. Through that time, she entered in a number of spoken word competitions, gaining acclaim through stops at the Brave New Voices International Poetry Competition in 2008 and Seattle’s Grand Slam Poetry Competition in 2011, which she won. It led her to create a book of poetry. Yet, music was her true calling, and it was about to come back to her in a big way.

Last year, Lambert channeled her energy into releasing an independent EP called Letters Don’t Talk in August. Though it gained some praise, it went largely under the radar beyond the local Seattle scene. None of the songs managed high chart peaks, nor did the EP. However, it was around the same time that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis approached her to be on “Same”, which at the time was only going to be issued on vinyl in the local area in response to a ballot question on same-sex marriage in Washington state. After a national appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and an approval of the matter, the duo were thrust into the pop world, and now the lovely Lambert can join them as well.

Issued last week, “She Keeps Me Warm” was self-released by Lambert, a more stripped-down and full version of her part on the rap single which continues to dominate. She seems to strike all the right chords, merging a tender vocal with a dramatic but also understated arrangement. It’s halfway between a pop song and a more folksy tune, similar to other singer-songwriters like Grace Potter or Missy Higgins. The song gives an even more special meaning to the words she contributed to “Same”, a personal journey about she and her girlfriend and the way they connected together. She sings, “She says I smell like safety and home/I named both of her eyes ‘forever’ and ‘please don’t go’ … this could be good.” There’s a sweet giggle to her voice and a great big smile across her face as she recounts the memories of how they came to be. It’s pretty magical and very inspiring to those who are taking on a similar relationship or feel limited by what marriage is dictated as in their region. There’s a promise and a hope that one day there will be a nationwide resolution to the issue. Until then, the good fight goes on.

The timing of the new single takes me back to 2000, when Eminem released the angry single “Stan”, which sampled “Thank You” by Dido in its chorus. It essentially gave an unknown a shot and propelled the British singer up to the top of the charts with a song that was already out on its own for almost two years at that point. “Thank” even managed to out-peak “Stan” on most of the pop surveys. While this current situation between Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert isn’t exactly the same, with Lambert’s song coming afterwards, you get the gist of what I’m talking about. If “Same Love” can win over both radio and retail (and maybe even the GRAMMY Awards), perhaps Lambert will find herself signed to a major label in the hopes of spreading her sound around the world. It’s only fitting.

With a hook and a jab, “She Keeps Me Warm” delivers on that pop punch, and won’t leave Mary Lambert out in the cold this time around.

Buy “She Keeps Me Warm” on iTunes.

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Ever The “Same”: A Six-Pack Of Similar Singles

Damn right, he supports it.

Loving his new hit.

This should be nothing new to you, but Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are having a banner year on the American charts. Their third single to break the top 40, the same-sex marriage anthem “Same Love” (featuring Mary Lambert), recently went top ten on iTunes and top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to the Supreme Court rulings on the Defense Of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8, both of which are no more. It’s already done a lot given the subject matter of the song, but should it break the top ten, it’ll be the sixth title in the chart’s history to name the “same” word. They may be alike, but I like them all:

“It’s The Same Old Song”, The Four Tops (#5, 1965)
Originally from Detroit, the group led by the late vocalist Levi Stubbs joined Motown Records in 1963 and enjoyed a number of hits with the label through the early 70’s, this being one of their biggest of the decade, save for #1 singles like “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There”. After a few changes in the record companies, the group last charted in 1988 with the minor top 40 single “Indestructible”. That title may also describe how the group is today: still together, albeit with a different lineup than before. A version of “Song” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band climbed to #35 in 1978.

“Sunday Will Never Be The Same”, Spanky & Our Gang (#9, 1967)
When you were younger, you might have been a fan of The Little Rascals, a troop of kids known for their short films as Our Gang between the the 1920’s and the 1940’s. It also provided the inspiration for this folk group’s name. The song about a girl meeting a boy on Sunday morning in the park, then returning to find he’s gone (hence, it’ll “never be the same”) was a summer hit for the band. After “Sunday”, the group charted with four other top 40 singles, but none made the top ten. After the death of lead guitarist Malcolm Hale in the fall of 1968, the band released one last unsuccessful album before going their separate ways.

“Still The Same”, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band (#4, 1978)
They’re a staple on classic rock radio in the U.S., and between the Bob Seger System, his solo career and his most successful act, Seger’s made a Billboard chart for six consecutive decades, four on the Hot 100. This was the leadoff single from the band’s second album, Stranger In Town. At the time, “Still” marked the highest peak that the band achieved on the big survey along with “Night Moves”, but that would be surpassed by their 1983 single, “Shame On The Moon” (#2), and a solo Seger release that went to #1, 1987’s “Shakedown”. He recently performed “Turn The Page” with The Swon Brothers on NBC’s The Voice.

“Same Old Lang Syne”, Dan Fogelberg (#9, 1981)
Singer-songwriter Fogelberg tapped into the sounds of soft rock in the 1980’s, soaring into the top ten with 1980’s “Longer” and this single the year after it. As the autobiographical story-song goes, he and an old flame unexpectedly reunite in a grocery store, share a few moments together in the car as the drink away a few bottles, and then depart to the narrator’s dismay. Largely seen as a Christmas song today, you’re unlikely to hear it on the radio outside of the months of November and December despite the fact that it actually peaked in mid-February. However, it still remains one of the late performer’s most popular songs.

“Stay The Same”, Joey McIntyre (#10, 1999)
Step by step, he got to those girls. As a member of New Kids On The Block, he grew up in the public eye, scoring several #1 songs with the band and the support of millions of screaming fans. Outside of singing lead on several of their hits, this was McIntyre’s only major solo smash, going to #10 on the Hot 100 thanks to strong physical sales. A followup release, “I Love You Came Too Late”, only went to #54 nationally. Today, he’s back together with his band mates on The Package Tour with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men. He was also recently in a minor role in the film The Heat, starring Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock.

For more of the “same” (and a lot of articles that are different), follow the blog below and find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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Entertainers And Equality: Can Radio Love “Love” For All?

Damn right, he supports it.

Damn right, he supports it.

The times, they are a-changin’. Late last week, Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island signed a piece of legislation which allows same-sex marriage in the state beginning in August, making it now the tenth state on a growing list of those that allow it, including the rest of New England, Iowa, New York, Washington and the District of Columbia. There are thousands of people that are thrilled with the decision, but there are always those who take the opposite stance on a hot-button issue like this. Fact is, the number of people who want marriage equality in the U.S. as a whole is verging on 60% at this point, and that number will continue to keep growing as well as the number of states that allow it.

Now, why do I bring this up? Well, there always has to be some musical twist to this. Today, it’s politically-charged songs. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Some are done really well and work directly with the issues, while others fall apart and remain vague and show little connection to the topic. There are several songs being worked as this point that deal with the subject of  same-sex marriage equality, homosexuality and other LGBTQ issues, which entertains a certain audience, but may also irk many depending on a number of factors: religious stance, age, etc. It’s a touchy subject. It’s not discussed in many songs that become singles for that reason alone. Yet, the times are changing, and radio can lead the way in this charge or stand aside and repress these statements. So, can these songs garner airplay in a world of national playlists rather than localized programming? Will entire radio groups prevent these from becoming popular? You be the judge.

MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS featuring MARY LAMBERT, “Same Love”
“Same Love” was originally written last year by Ben Haggerty, a.k.a. Macklemore, in support of legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington state, which was passed and enacted last December. Lyrically, the song is pretty blunt, with lines calling out “the right-wing conservatives”, who “think it’s a decision/And you can be cured with some treatment and religion.” He also dedicates a verse to talking about masking ourselves behind technology which encourages bullying: “Have you read the YouTube comments lately?/”Man that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily/We’ve become so numb to what we’re sayin’.” Pretty powerful stuff, but played to the wrong ears and you’re bound to hear some pretty hateful stuff back. “Love” hasn’t officially been serviced to radio here., as “Can’t Hold Us” is still dominating at several formats. However, it has been slowly climbing up the Alternative survey on unsolicited airplay for a little over a month and is hovering just inside the top 30. It’s also been added by four stations at CHR radio: three CBS-owned outlets in Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco and the fourth, a Clear Channel station also in Los Angeles. Thus far, only the Boston and San Francisco stations have actually begun spinning it. “Love” has already gone to #1 in Australia and New Zealand, but when it comes to the United States, the opposition to the issue will likely only make this song a mid-charter at best. I should note that you don’t see many midwestern and zero southern markets playing the song thus far. Sales of the song is a whole other beast, which are going to be consistent regardless of whether or not the song becomes a hit. The discussion’s going to continue for months to come, but this is one song that can’t be ignored. The content of it is too bold to just sit there.

SARA BAREILLES, “Brave”
Bareilles is starting off her third album The Blessed Unrest on a positive note with this tune, which employs whoever the song is directed to to “say what you wanna say/And the let the words fall out.” The subject seems to be imprisoned by the society at large (“Bow down to the mighty”) but the singer urges him or her to find “a way out of the cage where you live/Maybe one of these days you can let the light in.” Now, without any prior context, the song just sounds like her appeal to anybody who has a problem to be strong enough to admit something needs to be said. However, as Bareilles states in a video blog, the song was written for a friend who was having trouble coming out. Co-writer Jack Antonoff, one-third of the band of fun., told the Huffington Post that the song is “a civil rights anthem in a time when there are no civil rights anthems and there’s a giant need for [one].” So, if you didn’t know, now you do know. The message hasn’t seemed to affected its run thus far; it sold 76,000 copies digitally in its first week and is just about to enter the top 40 on Hot Adult Contemporary radio, one of her core formats. However, you could make the case that the fact that it’s no longer top 100 on iTunes and only posting moderate radio gains does mean that there is a hesitation to play the song. I honestly don’t know. It’s relatively harmless, but someone’s going to take issue with it. We’ll see what happens.

JILLETTE JOHNSON, “Cameron”
This is probably not going to get a lot of recognition, but Johnson’s song deals with a very interesting topic that isn’t addressed a lot of songs and for that reason alone, I’m hoping it gets picked up in a big way. She begins, “Cameron’s in drag, makes his father mad/Since he was a little boy, he always felt more comfortable in lipstick,” proceeding into the lines that deal with how the little boy is teased and beaten up by “aliens” for being different. This one just tugs at your heartstrings considering how young of a person we’re talking about. Why should he, so innocent, find himself denied for just being his usual self? “Cameron” is the second single from Johnson, who recently opened for Kris Allen on tour. Her first release, “Torpedo”, failed to get any significant airplay when it went for adds on the Hot Adult Contemporary format a few months ago. This, at least, has a little curiosity behind it and is effective in its final product. It goes to radio at the AAA format in two weeks on Wind-Up Records. I would watch this one carefully because if it gets the right placement, it could be huge, and probably stir a lot of family talk at the same time. There are plenty of children out there in Cameron’s position, unfortunately; it may give them a voice when one may be hard to find.

KACEY MUSGRAVES, “Follow Your Arrow”
Now, this one hasn’t been issued as a single and it may not be because this song involves the über-conservative Country radio format. Musgraves is known for speaking her mind when it comes to music, and her honest and in-your-face material probably doesn’t this particular case. However, if you know her stuff, then you know this is an excellent song that also does an excellent job at not being politically correct. As she states, “If you save yourself for marriage, you’re a bore/If you don’t save yourself for a marriage, you’re a whore-ible person.” She also tells her listeners to “make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys/or kiss lots of girls, if that’s something you’re into.” Musgraves appeals to a younger audience, which is where the format is heading, but still, there was a lot of talk over the track at some recent Country radio seminars. Her label ultimately chose “Blowin’ Smoke” as her second single, but there’s always a chance that this could be considered again. An adult audience would probably shudder at the idea of hearing this on the radio and having their children exposed to such content. Others would probably commend her for not being afraid to speak her mind. It still remains a popular album track.

We still have a ways to go when it comes to acceptance and equality in our nation, but we’re making big steps towards progress. This is just another of them. It should be our responsibility to keep an open mind when it comes to these kinds of subjects. Whether we agree or disagree, we should be able to speak our minds without being attacked for feeling a particular way. So, tell me: are you comfortable with hearing these kinds of lyrics on the air? Are you a radio programmer who feels one way or the other when it comes to songs like these? Can you like a song without supporting the big issue behind it? Let me know. Comment below or find on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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