The title of this post comes courtesy of a song from Owl City’s latest album release, “All things bright and Beautiful”, which was went on sale this last Monday in the UK.
Firstly, I have to point out that this release from Owl City, is possibly the happiest and most uplifting album I have heard all year. If you need cheering up – this is the album to listen to. If you want to feel on top of the world – this is the album to listen to. If you want to feel inspired… you get the picture. But this article isn’t actually about my review of this album (although, I think you can clearly see my thoughts on it).
I’m not foreign to the fact that Adam Young’s Owl City will stir up mixed emotions across the banner of people who will (or will not) read this post. I am not unaware that some people I know see Owl City as a simple remake of things gone by – but I feel compelled to express something that I discovered while awaiting the latest release from Owl City.
A lot of the music industry’s “professional” music reviewers have zero understanding for actual creativity. It’s a tall claim, I know. But I intend to back my corner with evidence. I have to say – I have been shocked for the last time by how “big name’s” get to give such biased and inaccurate reviews of media and art today. I am sick and tired of being told whether something (music or otherwise) is “visionary” or “pukey” by people who clearly have no intention of giving a level-headed unbiased opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all about producers and production companies paying reviewers off these days…
I know I’m biased in many respects of the Owl City case, but let me just say this much. The last time I checked, music was about creativity and enjoyment. It was about emotion and beauty in arrangement. I may not be a musician – but that doesn’t disqualify me from understanding creativity when I see (or hear it). In the same way that because I make movies regularly, it doesn’t give me any more right to say a film is rubbish because it’s not the “style I would write in”. Adam Young has produced an album that lyrically takes creativity to new levels. In my opinion – you couldn’t get much more creative with melody and scripting. Frankly, for the Rolling Stone magazine/website to produce a review that describes the album as going from “tasty to pukey in minutes” is uncalled for. If you don’t like the style of music – don’t write a review about it! It’s not hard!
Jon Dolan, the Rolling Stone reviewer for this album, then proceeds to criticise the fact that Adam is fixated on space travel just as much as romance. So what? Didn’t every boy at one time want to be an astronaut? Or an archeologist? Or the president of a country? What is it with these reviewers taking it out on creativity that exudes happiness and child-like awe??
I love that which Daniel Lugo wrote under the review the day I read it: “This album is really great and if you look at the videos of the putting together of this album, you would see that Adam put A LOT of heart into this album. For you to be completely biased and getting the information that you’re feeding to all your readers WRONG is completely unexcusable. This is the LAST time that I am using this site.” . I agree, not just based on Owl City, but frankly a lot of their reviews are stingy and derogatory of some of the greatest albums I’ve ever heard  . With reference to U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind, one of my most-played albums (not to mention the fact that I hear tracks from this album played in shops today, 11 years on), I cannot believe it didn’t get 5 stars! Ok, I know I’m getting picky now, but you can see where I’m coming from?
Going back to Owl City’s creativity and it’s reception from the ‘big names’… It’s not just Rolling Stone though, it’s a cross section of a lot of music review sites. Allmusic  and Consequence of Sound  to name just another two who clearly don’t understand creativity of lyrics. The latter calling the lyric “Rather fall in chocolate, than fall in love…” watered down. I think it was actually quite sweet. Ha.
I understand how some people don’t appreciate Adam Young’s style, I don’t expect everyone to even remotely like Owl City – but I do expect a bit more professionalism in modern media. It seems that big name record companies and reviewers critics people like Adam Young of being too same-ey, when in actual fact, the very creativity that they are hindering is the one thing that is keep all their five-star “hits” exactly the same as each other.
Some reviewers out there did recognise the album’s creativity and class, like Newsday to name just one . And I can see why! I’m biased, I know, but I love day-dreaming. I love happiness and I love the art of making lyrics sound far more interesting than blatantly about sex or getting dumped. So naturally, I loved All Things Bright and Beautiful in every respect. As the first track on the album states “Reality is lovely place, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”
So it is with a heavy heart, I must bid reality a fond farewell, as I move one step further away from where culture would put me. Real life, I’m sad to see you go… Funny though, how Ocean Eyes (Owl City’s previous album release) went platinum  while these reviewers only gave it a couple of stars between them. Or the fact that fireflies (a single from the album) got into the top 10, 5 or number 1 in most countries across the world (except france, obviously) .
For music, for films and for artwork – I will go out on a limb and say, generally if the “pro’s” hate it, I’ll probably love it.
This post may have been a little aggressive- but I assure you, that aggression is only directed at the big names. Friends who just don’t appreciate the music – each to their own. And my own likes this.
- Rob Sheffield (2011). Rolling Stone Review Site [online]. [Accessed 25th June 2011]. Available from: <http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/born-this-way-20110520>.
- Jon Dolan (2011). Rolling Stone Review Site [online]. [Accessed 25th June 2011]. Available from: <http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/all-things-bright-and-beautiful-20110614>.
- Daniel Lugo (2011). Comment on Our City Review. 25th June 2011. Rolling Stone Review of All things bright and beautful [online]. [Accessed 25th June 2011]. Available from: <http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/all-things-bright-and-beautiful-20110614>.
- Andrew Leahey (2011). allmusic review of All things Bright and Beautiful [online]. [Accessed 25th June 2011]. Available from: <http://www.allmusic.com/album/all-things-bright-and-beautiful-r2153838>.
- Megan Ritt (2011). Consequence of Sound review of All things Bright and Beautiful [online]. [Accessed 25th June 2011]. Available from: <http://consequenceofsound.net/2011/05/album-review-owl-city-all-things-bright-and-beautiful/>.
- Glenn Gamboa (2011). Newsday review of All things Bright and Beautiful [online]. [Accessed 25th June 2011]. Available from: <http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/music/drops-all-things-bright-and-beautiful-1.2947883>.
- KELEFA SANNEH (2009). Rolling Stone review of Coldplay’s X and Y [online]. [Accessed 25th June 2011]. Available from: <http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/x-y-20090617>.
- James Hunter (2000). Rolling Stone review of U2’s All that you can’t leave behind [online]. [Accessed 25th June 2011]. Available from: <http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/all-that-you-cant-leave-behind-20001026>.
- Hip Online (2010). Hip Online [online]. [Accessed 25th June 2011]. Available from: <http://www.hiponline.com/10100/owl-city-sells-a-million-copies-of-ocean-eyes.html>.
- Wikipedia (2010). Fireflies Single Article [online]. [Accessed 25th June 2011]. Available from: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fireflies_(song)>.