He finished second in a reality show, but let’s face the facts: Josh Krajcik has talent which didn’t need a Simon Cowell-led talent show to showcase it. So it doesn’t come as a surprise to hear Blindly, Lonely, Lovely showcasing his blues-tinged growl over larger-than-life arrangements which accentuate his ability to merge blues, rock and pop, all within a slick package.
“Back Where We Belong” brings “big” to the forefront, with its massive arrangement of piano, thundering drums and Krajcik’s lung-deflating vocals, and at times the song itself becomes overwhelmed by that top-heavy heft. Sometimes less is more, which “Nothing” illustrates as the album’s opener. That’s the song which needs to be spread around the internet as the reason this guy needs to be heard. That or the southern-blues keeper “The Remedy,” which could have fitted itself nicely into any Ray Lamontagne album yet released, or at the least as a John Mayer Continuum b-side. Steep yourself in those vocals at the chorus, along with that rising tide of horns, and try not to get swept up in the mood.
This isn’t an album he’ll be able to build a whole career on, but clearly reality success didn’t spoil him — he’s used the time in the Fox spotlight to build an audience and then released an album perfectly in line with what those fans wanted to hear, free from obsessive studio interference. With album tracks like “Don’t Make Me Hopeful” and the album-closing stunner “Let Me Hold You” anchoring this mix, there’s plenty to hope for in this songwriter’s future. If you weren’t already sucked in by the solid craft illuminated by his first two independent albums (try “Atavistic” on for size if you don’t believe me), I can’t think of a better mainstream introduction to his sound than what Blindly, Lonely, Lovely delivers.
Vino Alan asks: “What would Jimi do?”
I don’t usually comment too much about the goings-on of reality television, but a recent interview Vino Alan gave to Yahoo’s Reality Rocks just cried out for commentary. Poor Mr. Alan, who allowed X-Factor’s producers to change his song at the last minute, despite his disapproval, says the show simply does not take its older artists seriously (emphasis is mine):
Yeah, I thought it would have been cool for Simon and the show to make a statement that for older artists, who might have gotten lost in the industry, there’s still an open door for them … It definitely was not set up to be an inspiring atmosphere, and I’ve told them that they have to work on that in the future, if they want it to be more artist-friendly. It did seem to lean more towards every other show that’s been out there that’s tried to create something that’s packaged and marketed, but maybe doesn’t move the soul. I mean, if Jimi Hendrix came out today, what show would he be able to go on? What the hell, what would they do? Is he not pretty enough? Now I think these true great artists out there will be gun-shy [about auditioning for ‘The X Factor’], because they’ll see maybe what happened to me or how people treated me. I think Simon had a chance to create a different monster of a show, and that is really the only thing I find disappointing.
Seriously … “what show would Jimi be able to go on?” Now that Alan no longer has X-Factor duties holding him back, he should give Jimi’s music another listen and ask himself why Hendrix would waste his time on a “get rich quick” reality scheme when he already had the skills and talent to back his career on his own.
Get back with me, Vino, when you can do this:
Brian "Stop Lookin' At My Mom!" Bradley slayed judges
I haven’t watched an episode of the X-Factor yet all the way through. Call me a victim of “too much Fake Reality” overload syndrome. But man, if there’s a reason to watch, I’d say it’d be to see how far Brian Bradley can go in the competition, because this kid’s got swagger and he totally slayed the judges, proving that he had stage presence and the ability to rock the mic to the beat of his own making. If you want to skip to the meat, jump into the video below at the 1:57 mark, as he goes straight into his performance by taking Simon to task:
What you lookin’ at?
What you starin’ at?
I see your eyes
I ain’t surprised
Just ’cause I’m a shorty
Don’t think I won’t do you no harm
Stop lookin’ at my mom!
Boom! The kid takes the stage as if he’s been there his whole life, completely commanding the audience as he rips into some great meaty lines: “I don’t understand why these dudes is lookin’ / Like they ain’t never seen a beautiful strong woman! / She just happens to be the one who birthed me / The one who burped me / The one who nursed me …” Seriously, I didn’t take the kid seriously when he said he wanted to be (in five years) the equal to the likes of Jay Z or Kanye, but he’s already off to a classier start, no matter what Simon may say.
“Brian, just let me say this,” Cowell scowled. “You are arrogant, obnoxious, argumentative, but you are one of the most talented young people I’ve heard in a long long time.” Judging by his comments, maybe the kid needs to ask for a DNA test, ’cause the way Cowell described it, he’s damned close to Cowell’s double, only with talent to boot. It ought to be fun to see where the show takes Bradley as the judges morph into mentors.
Somehow I suspect he’ll end up on Team Cowell.