Thoughts: The Let Down

You’ve danced and you’ve cried to their songs, you’ve purchased all their albums in both physical and digital formats, and you’ve paid substantial amounts to their attend their concerts. You truly believe in them as artists and as people. So, what do you do when your favorite artists release material that you don’t believe in?

At times, I avoid discussing the ugly truth about the artists we love. It’s a fault and it’s not necessarily why I created this bog; however, the good and the bad, it’s all part of the human condition. Our favorites artists are not perfect. This year has been a rollercoaster ride of excitement and let down. Two of my favorite artists, Emeli Sande and Taylor Swift, truly built buzz regarding their 2019 releases and eventually released songs that have all been lackluster.

Emeli-Sande

Emeli Sande is one of my favorite artists. Since Our Version of Events was released in 2012, I’ve constantly been an Emeli Sande fan. I’ve earnestly loved everything she’s subsequently released. I even flew to London to see her perform in 2017.  She has written music that has spoken to me on a level most music hasn’t in the past. In early 2019, Emeli said she was readying a new album, Real Life, and told us the first single, Sparrow, was coming.

When describing the album, Emeli said that the album was for people who “have been marginalized, forgotten or kicked down by this invisible oppression that’s always there. [She] just wants to give people this incredible superpower every time they play the album. Like a battery pack – by the end of the album they’re going to feel restored.”

Look, Brene Brown is my jam. Emeli made it sound like her album would be the musical equivalent of a Brene Brown self-help book. Sparrow was released, and it didn’t reach the heights I was expecting. The song did do much on the charts either. It wasn’t a bad song, it just didn’t deliver. Then came Extraordinary Being, the second single. Though this song did feature some increase in BPMs, the song falls flat… it isn’t successfully executed.

I love Emeli and will steadfastly wait with hopeful anticipation; however, at this point, I’m apprehensive about what the full album will deliver and where her career will land.

swift

The new Taylor Swift Era is eerily similar to Mariah’s Glitter era. Akin to Mariah’s Virgin Records record-breaking contract, Taylor’s deal with Republic Records is noted to be one of the most lucrative and artist-centric deals to date. After 6 successful multi-platinum albums, the new era had fans and the music-world eagerly waiting. The pressure was on (similar to Mariah’s Glitter film and record).

Adding another layer to the eerie similarity, if you subtract Mariah’s Christmas album from the equation, Glitter was Mariah’s 7thstudio album. This new album is slated to be Taylor’s 7thalbum.

ME!, the first single off the new record, though completely inoffensive, is forgettable and not interesting. This is VERY different when considering Taylor’s previous first-singles. Look What You Made Me Do was different, dark and entertaining. Shake It Off, although inoffensive as well, was remarkably catchy and still stands the test of time. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together was her first foray into the pop realm and remains one of her best singles to date. Love Story, Mine and Tim McGraw were excellent singles that told a story and kept the listener engaged. ME! pales in comparison to her entire discography.

I’m wondering what the rest of the album will deliver and I’m worried about what will come in regard to TS7. Glitter was a fantastic album and in retrospect finally got the respect it deserved. Is TS7’s fortune facing a similar path?

Taylor’s new song is conflicting to me. Memories line each of her albums. She has been a part of my life for the past 10+ years. As silly and immature as it sounds, Taylor’s success has always been something I’ve been proud of. So, what will happen next? Time will only tell; however, I’m not sold, and I’m understandably concerned.

It’s always a bit conflicting when one must reconcile the artist they admire with the lackluster songs they may deliver. Music is powerful, and it is something I’ve always taken seriously. That is why songs like ME!, Sparrow and Extraordinary Being worry me. What will happen to the artists we love once they “let us down”? What will happen to the artists we love if and once their fame diminishes? It’s happened so many other times before, and we’ve somehow carried on… but the older we get, the more aware of failure we become.

So, what’s next?

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