Saturday, January 17, 2009

#36 Jesse McCartney, "Leavin'"

If you got a man,
Why don't you tell him that

I'm leavin', never to come back again
You found somebody who does it better than he can
No more makin' you cry, no more o' them gray skies, girl we flyin' on a G5, G5

How on Earth did this song ever take off on American radio to the extent that I can refer to it as "overplayed"? I'm not complaining, mind--I love it, and have since I first played it over and over and over again when it first came out; much like OneRepublic & Timbaland's "Apologize," despite its omnipresence on the radio, I never fail to stop, listen, and sing along every time I hear it.

A bit like an Americanized and chipmunk-less version of Shayne Ward's "If That's OK With You," "Leavin'" was part of former boy bander and teen pop star Jesse McCartney's urban makeover, one which I still find completely ridiculous but funny in an enjoyment enhancing way. I had few music related moments this year that were more fun that laughing at Jesse's use of language that he's nowhere near cool or "street" enough to pull off.

As I said earlier this year, though, the urban sheen of "Leavin'" is really just a gloss to disguise the fact that it's by far Jesse's poppiest and cutest material since his first solo album and probably the kitschiest thing he's ever done (incidentally, I was listening to Ryan Seacrest do the American Top 40 2008 countdown and nearly drove off the road when Jesse used "kitschy," the word I've been using all along for this song, to describe it; I didn't think anyone else around my age used that word). It's a song that's constantly light on its feet, with a Jamaican-sounding xylophone part, high pitched electronic beats, a casually tossed off reference to Beyoncé, and Jesse staying in a sort of middle singing zone, neither whispered ballad nor fast-paced up-tempo in his delivery--he spends the whole song singing as if he's reclined back in some lounge chair while making passes at a girl. And sure, maybe he's trying just a little too hard to be cool, maybe he's not quite believable as a hipster lothario, but his attempts to win our attention sure are awfully cute, aren't they? Poppy, cute, catchy, easy to sing along to--maybe it shouldn't have been such a surprising success. "Leavin'" sounds like the summer, and even its kitsch is endearing.

On a personal note, among several objections I held against Leona Lewis's "Bleeding Love" was my belief that there was no way that Jesse McCartney, a co-writer of that song, would ever receive the near unanimous praise and massive success of that song if he was ever to release a song as good as Leona's version of "Bleeding Love" (NOT if he was to release his own version of "Bleeding Love," just a song as good as Leona's version of it). Though Internet commenter praise for "Leavin'" wasn't as universal, it looks as if, given "Leavin'"'s success in the U.S., I'll have to let go of at least a little of that baggage.

Find it on: Departure


Aaron said...

I liked this - Shame the album was a letdown!

Poster Girl said...

It really is a shame. Luckily we at least got "How Do You Sleep" out of the whole bargain, which is fantastic--if it's not given its proper due and actually released as a single instead of just getting some random MySpace-only video made, I'm going to be upset. I didn't think it really got a single push in 2008, so I decided it wasn't eligible for this list, or else it definitely would have been on it.

Poster Girl said...

Oh, and let me just mention again that

Not only does your body bang
But I miss the conversion, too

is still probably the lyric of the year.

Paul said...

Leaving was amazing. How Do You Sleep was good. It's Over was ok. Bleeding Love was a male version of Bleeding Love - I am quite happy for Leona to have huge success with the song. I think perhaps for whatever unfair reason that a Jesse version with no Leona ever, would not have been as huge, due to pre conceptions. If that made ANY sense at all!!!

John said...

One of the most infectious songs of the year, no doubt. And he ain't bad to look at, either, is he?

Poster Girl said...

No, I don't mean that Jesse's version should have been as big as Leona's--Leona's is a million times better than his. Like I said there, I meant if he released a song as good as Leona's version of "Bleeding Love." I definitely put "How Do You Sleep" in the amazing category!

John, I can't argue with the truth.