New Music Review: Greyson Chance is More Than a Kitschy Kid
The middle school sensation hits the right notes with Hold On ’Til the Night, but his image needs a new spin.
The clipped “until” in Greyson Chance’s debut album title is indicative of his overall brand. Greyson has been sculpted and edited until he fits into a “catchy,” preteen-aimed package. There’s no denying he has a powerful voice, and it’s impressive for a thirteen-year-old. But his marketing people have mishandled him, and the resulting image isn’t pretty.
First, the music: Hold On ’Til the Night is filled with soaring violins and Greyson’s signature piano melodies. The majority of his lyrics are mature without eclipsing his age and experience. The album’s first single, “Unfriend You” is the notable exception. This song’s lyrics are a contrived effort to root Greyson in his age bracket, that of the Internet. He was seven years old when Facebook first launched.
Listening to this album, I was prepared to scoff. How can a middle school boy sing about love and heartbreak? Surely he’s never experienced it. Bieber got the same kind of flack when he started making music. Yet, should age be a factor in determining quality art? Greyson sings with passion, and he understands his lyrics on some level, regardless of it’s at the “depth” with which smug adults think they’re familiar.
Hold On ’Til the Night’s title track is an inspirational rock ballad in which Greyson affirms his faith in committing to love. It doesn’t matter if he’s been in love before; he knows he wants it. “Cheyenne” is a desperate plea, “Please don’t break my heart, Cheyenne,” he sings. I hope Cheyenne is real and Greyson reveals her existence in a dramatic press conference. I also hope Lady Gaga covers this in exchange for Greyson’s memorable Paparazzi rendition.
If you still need convincing of Greyson’s sincerity, think back to seventh grade. My experience certainly involved hopeless crushes and the feeling that maybe I would never get an epic love affair (or ever be kissed, for that matter). I wrote cliché songs about my angst. Greyson just gets the chance to publicize his feelings, opening his heart for critique. Brave, if you ask me.
Greyson Chance is the most vulnerable rising star among his peers. Bieber and Jaden Smith have their flirt turned on high; they can hide behind their choreographed moves and famous mentors. Greyson’s tour partner, Cody Simpson, has taken over Jesse McCartney’s blond, crooner role. Greyson is more Josh Groban than Justin Timberlake, more sweet than swagger. He’s got Ellen, but she’s not a stage presence for him to emulate. He’s not taking over anyone’s still-warm throne in Pop Kingdom. He has his beautiful voice and piano-playing abilities, but no clear image niche to fill.
So, Greyson has been stuck in a bland, cobwebby corner. His video for “Waiting Outside the Lines,” is a Vanessa Carlton “A Thousand Miles” rip-off, and the product placement is laughable. Look for Flav drinks and Beats by Dr. Dre headphones (a staple placed product) ham-handedly woven into the video’s narrative. One slightly salvaging point comes towards the end of the video, when rain pours onto Greyson and his piano. The whole video could have lingered on that scene, leaving space for Greyson’s vocal talent to take center stage. If his team focuses on what works (Greyson himself), they might create a likeable visual.
“Unfriend You,” Greyson’s latest video, plays like a PSA for the fun things kids can do without getting wasted. Cue Coca Cola, ping-pong, gymnastics, and silly string. The preteen party highlight is when Greyson and Co. toilet paper his “unfriended” girlfriend’s house. Again, the act feels forced and consequently falls flat. Greyson doesn’t need to play dress up or big man on campus to win hearts. Push the accessories aside, and figure out how to frame his voice. If Greyson is trying to be Bieber, he’s the weaker, shrimpy version. But when he and his team (Ellen, you especially) find a different direction for his image, Greyson has the potential to emerge as the brightest light in the bunch.
More Faster Music:
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 2 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 3 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 4 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 5 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 6 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 7 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 8 Attorney Actually Starting to Believe Own Bullshit
- 9 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Strartup
- 10 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook