Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Don't stress, don't stress, don't stress

Jesse McCartney, in between riding high on cash for co-writing Leona Lewis's "Bleeding Love" and preparing for the certain deluge of calls from directors that will start after the world is exposed to his voiceover performances as Theodore in Alvin & The Chipmunks, JoJo in the Horton Hears A Who movie, and the titular "baby" wolf cub in the direct-to-DVD 3 Pigs and A Baby, isn't disproving my prediction that his "my new music is influenced by Prince, Michael Jackson, and Madonna in the '80's" statement should be taken with a shalt shaker full of salt yet. The new song from him that's appeared on the Internet (you can listen to it at this MySpace) sounds absolutely nothing like those artists. Called "Leavin'", it's kind of like if "Me Love," "Tattoo," "Love Like This," and "If That's OK With You" got put into a blender along with some lyrics featuring Jesse trying to convince a girl to leave her boyfriend and be with Jesse, a casual "left left left" from "Irreplaceable" was thrown in (presumably for hilarity and in-joke, look at me referencing chart hits-ness), and most of their synths were taken out and replaced by sparse Jamaican instrumentation--in other words, light pop-R&B fluff of the disposable sort that sounds like we should first be hearing it in the middle of summer, not January. It's obviously not as "pure pop" as his first album or as pop-with-guitars as his second, and features what is probably Jesse trying to be hipper when really anyone who's "hip" name is Jesse Mac should probably just not even try (oh the hilarity of some of his early hits' remixes). I'll be beyond shocked if it takes off in the U.S.--heck, I don't even expect anyone in Internet world to like it.

All that said, I love it. I've just listened to it something like eleven times in a row. It does the fluffy summery thing so much better than "Love Like This," which I was never totally sold on--it was like it was trying to be light, but there was too much holding it those processed vocal sound effects (and I have positive feelings about both processed vocals and Natasha!). "Leavin'" really is a deceptive song--it niggles its way into your mind and refuses to leave. The beat is a great choice (thank goodness for it--it makes the song sound a lot better than the live versions he was performing), but there's a very good chance I wouldn't like it as much if someone else was singing, and that's nothing to do with liking it just because it's Jesse--apparently his voice just works perfectly on something like this.

When the song's name first cropped up as the rumored lead single for the album, it was also rumored that it would come out in middle to end February and an album April-ish, but I'm not sure if that's still the case, or ever was the case. I guess we'll find out eventually. Apparently the recording of the album is (at least pretty much) finished. As for all those "retro '80's pop," "very synth-driven," "contemporary pop" sounds I was still getting all excited about last November? I guess we could still end up getting them.

Best Jesse songs:
  • Beautiful Soul (seriously pop genius. Yeah, the lyrics are kind of dodgy--there's something about roping in a teen idol known for his looks to sing these kind of lyrics that feels like nails on a chalkboard to me--but it's still one of the best American singles of the past five years. Though I don't really hear it on radio anymore, it was one of the best surprises in the world to actually hear something this amazingly poppy on American radio when it did come on in the years after its time on the chart. The middle 8 may seem oddly out of place but it pointed at a potentially really interesting musical direction, which it's a shame the album didn't explore at all.)
  • Get Your Shine On (I don't know who Jesse thinks he's kidding. This is the most Michael Jackson-like song he's ever made [albeit in a very bubblegum way], and we've yet to hear anything remotely like this from him again. If you only know him for stuff like "Beautiful Soul," it's maybe worth giving this a listen.)
  • What's Your Name (I LOVE this song. It's probably my favorite from his first album--and with that in mind, it's probably no surprise that it's the poppiest thing on it. Yes, even poppier than "Beautiful Soul," something which you wouldn't think is possible. Teen pop that is upbeat and just too cute and fun; it screams summer at the beach to me.)
  • She's No You (i.e., the "well, we better come up with another song for all the people who loved the lyrics of 'Beautiful Soul'" song. A little more ballad-influenced. Incidentally, the guy who directed the music video for this also 'directed' the monstrosity made for Blake Lewis's lead single...and the music video for Tori Amos's "A Sorta Fairytale," for that matter. Mind-boggling.)
  • Because You Live (kind of reminds me of "She's No You," but with even more ballad influence, and, though still obviously being a song praising a girl, at least some of the more awkward discongruities in regards to the lyrics are gone)
  • One Way Or Another (his poptastic Christmas song)
  • Running Away (why oh why was this only a bonus track for his second album? Easily one of the best things he's ever done, and only rivaled by "Daddy's Little Girl" for the title of best song from this era--it really showed he could mature his sound and not be less interesting for it. Shamelessly stealing my own words from the past, "It has so much more energy than this album's lead single, and there's something about this track that feels a bit more orchestral than the other songs; it's not a rock-out or funky song at all--in fact, I'd say it's pretty, lifting. Jesse's words in the chorus come in crashes, in waves, and are perfectly punctuated and backed up by the percussion and the rest of the instruments. This isn't 'running away' as in some picturesque frolicking in fields, but a swirling, rushing escape--if only this song wasn't the only such escape on the album..." Really, listening to it again, I really think it's my favorite thing he's done.)
  • Daddy's Little Girl (either the best or second best song from his second album. Catchy as all get-out, with alarm clocks, surf guitar, and handclaps, and one of the few moments on the album where Jesse seems willing to actually have fun. Opening lines: "you just turned 18 a week ago/and you want to learn what you don't know." Oh Jesse. So subtle.)
  • Anyone (perfect pop-with-guitars chorus. Perfect pop-with-guitars song, for that matter.)
  • Can't Let You Go (more perfect catchy pop-with-guitars stuff, this time even more uptempo.)
  • We Can Go Anywhere (slower than the previous two songs but--and not just because of the lyrics--it's got a great driving song feel to it.)
...really, though, after not liking it very much at all when it first came out, I think Right Where You Want Me really is a good album. I do still kind of wish "Blow Your Mind" (which is a good song) was cover of Nick Carter's song, though.

Oh, what the heck--this post is so ridiculously long already, I might as well make it today's song post, even though everyone else all across the Internet has already posted it and it's low quality. Here's the new song in question, though it'll only be posted for a little bit since it is presumably an upcoming single.

Obviously, there's nowhere where you can buy this single or the album from which it comes yet, but I can point you in the direction of his second album Right Where You Want Me, for sale here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe that South African Idols artist.


Digital Technique said...

Not sure what I think of Jesse's new song at the moment but will probably end up lovin' it as I hav done with all his previous singles!

Had forgotten all about the randomness of tacking Running Away on as a bonus track on the album - it should have been a single!

Poster Girl said...

The first time I heard it I thought it was awful. Then I somehow ended up playing it a bunch of times and realized I actually liked it. I'll probably be over it in a couple of days and then rediscover it in about a year ;)

It really should have! I'm still not over that yet.