Tag Archives: Say Something

ALBUM REVIEW: A Great Big World – Is There Anybody Out There?

"Something" more than the hit single.

“Something” more than the hit cut.

In January 2011, I discovered a song called “This Is The New Year” by a newcomer named Ian Axel. The song was released on a small label and ended up being promoted to AAA (Adult Album Alternative) radio around that time. I playlisted the song for a few weeks, but when it was clear that it wouldn’t take off at radio, I ultimately dropped it from rotation. It wasn’t that the song was bad, but I just needed to move onto other releases.

So, imagine my surprise when two years later, that single returned under a different act, A Great Big World. This time around, Axel teamed with friend Chad Vaccarino, and after its use on Glee and the duo’s signing to Epic Records, the song finally managed to secure some play. However, it’s a second release and big ballad “Say Something” that’s captivated a wider audience thanks to a duet version with Christina Aguilera. The simplicity of both its heartfelt lyrics and melody seems to be relatable to just about anyone in a darker situation.

Now comes the twosome’s debut album, Is There Anybody Out There?, a fantastic collection of thirteen songs that runs through themes of breaking hearts, breaking stereotypes and, at the core of it, breaking through. It’s one of the first great albums of 2014 and one that I think will surprise many who didn’t intend to go beyond the singles. It’s absolutely worth it.

Opener “Rockstar” begins on a positive note with the fantasy of dreaming big; in this case, it’s the sentiment of “I just wanna be a rockstar.” The piano-driven melody explodes into a fuller arrangement of drum and guitar, reminiscent of something like “Slice” by Five For Fighting. They may be “hanging on the memory of what we would become”, and luckily, the dream has blossomed and survived thus far. (P.S. nice album title shout-out early on!)

It’s then onto “Land Of Opportunity”, which comes off as the happy breakup song of the bunch. (For the duo, it was a falling out with a friend.) From the fun and whimsical set of lyrics, like “I’m changing my name to a word that’s really hard to say,” to a Middle 8 straight out of the fairground, this is pure pop magic. Just stick around after that chaotic percussion madness; it ends on a note of beauty, and that’s one “opportunity” it can’t afford to give up.

Third track “Already Home” verges into Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah” territory, a simple ballad that sort of acts as the calm before the storm moment preceding “Say Something”. They sing, “If only New York wasn’t so far away/I promise this city won’t get in our way.” Following that is the upbeat “I Really Want It”, which echoes the “homeward bound” sentiment established in “Already”. This song, however, showcases the two men’s determination to make it in the industry, albeit on their own terms and not by societal pressures. It’s not among my favorites, but it’s still cute.

After the aforementioned “Something” is a set of three songs that tap into religious tones. “You’ll Be Okay” flourishes like a modern-day spiritual, with an inspiring message of “You’ll be okay/The sun will rise to better days.” Track seven, “Everyone Is Gay”, is a lovable, energetic piece that also shines as a theatrical number (not unlike some other tracks on here), like it was meant to be in Avenue Q. They’re “one step closer to breaking down the walls” of those close-minded individuals that won’t accept love as love and people for who they are. Finally, “There Is An Answer” again furthers the notion that “love exists in every kind” and “that will love find us here.” It’s accessible and elegant.

The ending four tracks represent a hodgepodge of different musical styles, from the guitar-driven “I Don’t Wanna Love Somebody Else”, an ode to living for the troubles in a relationship even when it’s beyond repair, to the celebratory “This Is The New Year”, an anthem for those starting over in life or those who need to be picked up. Possibly the one track that sticks out the most is “Shorty Don’t Wait”, 11th in the lineup, the most folk-driven song of them all. It’s perfect for bars, festivals… pretty much anywhere where you’re just chilling with friends and having a good time. It’ll be much bigger and better live when everybody’s chanting along. If you’re upset that this listening party is coming to a close, then “Cheer Up!” Track 12 is a curiously atmospheric, but barren sounding track (cue the Owl City songbook) that attempts to put everything in perspective: “It’s a great big world and there’s no need to cry/13 billion years and there’s still time.” Well said. (The Aguilera-assisted “Something” ends the set as a closer on track 13.)

Rooted in emotional experiences and well-crafted arranging, A Great Big World has a solid repertoire with the material they’ve produced on this album and a decent amount of variety. It’s a quick listen but a balanced one, mixing both traditional and futuristic pop tracks, as well as the serious and fun moments (though that fun does occasionally come off as a little juvenile, not that that’s unfavorable with me.) It’s certainly radio-ready; Epic would be wise to try one of the peppier numbers, like “Rockstar”, as the third single from the effort. It has the feel of a Hot AC hit. Pop enthusiasts, theater kids, and The Voice fans, unite: to answer that pivotal question, we’re all out here rooting for the boys… are you?

Stream Is There Anybody Out There? on iTunes and pre-order the album, due on Tuesday (1/21).

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“Something” Is Better Than Nothing: Future Hits Gone Hazy

Sometimes, it’s okay to be less than specific. A little vague goes a long way. Who am I kidding? Give me “something”, anything! Well, here are two new singles by acts that are giving us a little insight into the drama that is not so detailed. Plus, they’re doing their best to spread their clarity to the musical masses. Let’s get digging:

"New" kids in town.

Oh “Say”, can’t you see?

A GREAT BIG WORLD – “Say Something”
Release Date: Fall 2013 (Hot AC radio)

Here’s an act I did a piece on about seven months ago, so let’s see where the duo of Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino are now. Earlier this year, the band built up a small fan base thanks to the incorporation of “This Is The New Year” into an episode of Glee during the second half of its fourth season. It was performed by the New Directions group as a whole. It aired at the end of January and though the Glee version wasn’t the biggest selling song of the episode despite airing at the end of it, the commercial potential of the original version was properly spotted and it led the duo to sign a contract with Epic Records during the spring. With a bigger label behind them, “Year” accumulated some airplay on both the CHR and Hot AC formats and entered the top 50 on each list, though promotion of the single has ended at both. Now, the duo find themselves in a similar position with the use of this new song a few nights ago on another FOX show, So You Think You Can Dance. Used as the background accompaniment in a dance by finalists Amy and Robert, reaction after the performance came quickly and the song leaped into the top 100 on iTunes. It will be serviced by Epic to radio soon. Although much slower than their past single, the song is also very heartfelt, with a burst of strings and powerful vocals at the end and an emotional drive behind the narrator’s request to “say something, I’m giving up on you.” Let’s hope that radio doesn’t give up on this one as quickly.

They've lost that lovin' feeling (again.)

The “Need” to succeed.

ONEREPUBLIC – “Something I Need”
Release Date: out now (Australia), unknown (U.S.)

Hello again, you five friends from Colorado. Over the past few years, OneRepublic have made a name for themselves on the pop charts, and lead singer Ryan Tedder‘s list of clients in the production and writing department keeps on growing. He recently remixed “I Want Crazy” for Hunter Hayes, and now, his band are all over Australian radio with this song that appears to have exploded out of nowhere. At the moment, “Need” is only being fully promoted at radio and retail in Australia, where the song appears headed for a top 5 placing on the national ARIA charts there. (You’ll see on iTunes that it’s also placing in the lower rungs in other countries largely in Europe, but nothing worth pointing out.) With “Counting Stars” still building in the United States at radio and selling at a moderate pace, it will be some time before we know if “Need” will end up as a fourth single from Native here, largely due to the fact that all of their previous releases from this era have been mid-charters at best. Could this be a game changer given the initial positive signs from down under? Not so fast. “Need” is a solid pop/rock song, but it doesn’t sound like a hit, at least for the sake of the U.S. market. At least, I always thought of it as an album track. Plus, I don’t think you’ll exactly see Tedder crying into an empty piggy bank. The band is promising an entertaining video for the single, so maybe that can spike interest in an average song. That’s something it really needs.

Does “something” tickle your fancy from the two new singles listed above? Let me know! Comment below, follow the blog below or click the “Get Social!” page to find PGTC on social media.

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