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Snap Judgment: “Live Like We’re Dying” First Listen

September 21, 2009

First off, if my plane fell from the sky, chances are I would be dead and not deciding to whom I would be making my last phone call, especially when mobile service would be nill and I doubt on-board wi-fi would be up and running if all systems and pitot tubes failed. You couldn’t even tweet before plunging into the dark sea. (Hey, I’m the type of weirdo fuck who discusses Air France Flight 447 if I’m sitting next to an off-duty pilot on a cross-country flight. I take airline safety and maintenance very seriously.)

Anyway, what do I think? I like it enough. Live Like We’re Dying is catchy, upbeat…nothing earth-shattering in the least. It’s pleasant, one of those I would turn up if it came on while I was driving. These songs often differ from those I keep in frequent rotation on the iPod — know what I mean?

I must give HBD props for doing the little speedy rap-esque chorus, however, ESPECIALLY on those sections of the song, I could have done with the digitally-mastered HBD echo effect. I agree about it being overproduced. I feel like a little less could have taken it a lot farther. As of right now, its very Gavin DeGraw-y, and I sincerely hope the rest of his album steps back from that sort of sound because I think the sterile, benign styling of DeGraw (and John Mayer. I hate John Mayer. I wish he and Perez Hilton would make out some more because they truly deserve one another.) isn’t the best way to distinguish oneself from the masses — especially starting a career with the hindrance of Idol. I’ve always thought HBD’s strength lies in his ability to actually connect with a song, rather than just going through the motions. I would prefer to see him go the Ray LaMontagne-Citizen Cope route over the DeGraw-Mayer path.

I don’t believe the rather humble Kris Allen considers himself a trail-blazing original attempting to make his mark on the music world. I think he’s just a guy who wants to write and sing songs he believes in to connect with his audience on a personal level by conveying genuine emotion. I think he is about singing songs people can identify with based on shared experiences. Sadly, this is often not enough for Idol fans, many of which tend to believe personal connections are fostered through meet & greets rather than stage performances — even if the ones guilty of this mentality seem to always chant a shared mantra claiming it’s all about the music.

But I’m pulling for Kris Allen. I think he can do it. I would like to hear the rest of his album, but as far as expecting some radical, awe-inspiring religious experience based upon his music, I think that’s setting the bar a bit too high. Let’s just see where the kid goes in his career. (The same goes for Adam Lambert, too.)

On my previous post, Kimberly posted a killer quote:

“What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.” — William Ralph Inge

Exactly. Perhaps I’m cynical (I call it being realistic), but I would argue true originality is impossible, given we are all a product of the things around us. It’s just what you DO with the influences which make you “original”. Pure, unadulterated originality, however, is bullshit. If I was raised by monkeys & parrots on a desert island in the South Pacific, only to be discovered by human beings decades later, would this make me an original? Frak no. I was just copying monkey & parrot shit. Monkey see, monkey do. Squawk like a parrot. And by having opposable thumbs, perhaps I would fling my poo differently, but that really doesn’t change a thing, does it? I still would be heavily influenced by monkeys & parrots…a product of my own environment.

While that’s an extreme analogy, this belief is probably why I give Lambert a hard time every so often, because I don’t consider him to be a revolutionary. He’s just trying to bring things which have been done in gay/dance/underground clubs for years into the mainstream through the Idol machine.

And Lady GaGa? Is she original because she eschews pants, wears stupid masks and hangs herself on stage? No. She’s setting things which have been done ad nauseum on the performance art & club kid scene to catchy little pop songs. In actuality, it’s not much different from Madonna’s early career and frankly, give me Borderline and Like a Prayer over the likes of Paparazzi any day.

Everything has been done before and everything will be done again. And again. It’s just all in the way you package it. Elvis Presley was just a white boy singing what he had seen African-Americans performing in the south for years. In an era when black artists recorded LPs featuring white models on the covers, a lily-white boy from Tupelo suddenly emerged onto the music scene with a seductive allure and a rockabilly sound encompassing rhythm & blues, country and gospel sensabilities. This was unlike anything white-bred 1950s America had ever seen the likes of on The Ed Sullivan Show, however, I would bet serious cash it was probably because they weren’t hanging out with “colored folk”.

In this day and age, people are exposed to a lot more than in 1950s America. And frankly, if you’ve never seen the likes of an Adam Lambert or a Lady GaGa before 2009, perhaps you should leave your home. Leave your town. Leave your state. Leave your country. There’s a whole world outside filled with interesting, incredible people of ever shape, size, ethnicity, sexual preference and cholesterol level you would just not believe. Check it out. It’s awesome. Even colorful psychotic freaks (mainly furries & plushies, or any related varietal) are fun if you keep your distance. (Hell, why do you think I am somewhat fascinated by Idolfanlandia?)

So yeah…if that’s originality for ya, get out of your house and start experiencing something new. You know, maybe try and live like you’re dying.

36 Comments leave one →
  1. Shari permalink
    September 24, 2009 3:35 am

    Sorry, but what’s an HBD?

  2. Shari permalink
    September 24, 2009 3:33 am

    Boooooooooooooooring, canned, lame.
    An exciting artist could make this their own & make it rock.
    We all know this.
    Just say it w/out all the frills/hyperbole.
    No Excuses!
    Now that’s a good title for a song.
    But I’m sure it’s already been done…

  3. kimberly permalink
    September 22, 2009 10:05 pm

    “where are all these over enthusiastic Adam fans I keep seeing referenced on here? I swear sometimes I think it’s a figment of people’s imaginations. I do see Adam’s fans excited about his music.” Sammy

    Try MJ’s Blog, they ain’t hard to miss.

  4. wino permalink
    September 22, 2009 6:36 pm

    gald im not the only anit-gaga person on earth. her persona and style is so contrived, it screams “bored suburbian in desperate need to differentiate herself”. you aren’t cool or different if you have to point out 24/7 you are cool and different.

  5. wino permalink
    September 22, 2009 6:19 pm

    I dont think “stripped down” or “acoustic” would work as a 1st single for Kris (or most artists). AI albums are not to be judges by the same standards as other singers since the turnaround time is incredible quick. So given the circumstances, a poppy/catchy top 40 tune is a pretty solid move on the part of the record company. Draw the masses in w. a radio friendly tune and then you can hook fans with the more subtle, subdued songs. Lets keep in mind they want to make money…we live in a world where guys like Flo Rida rule the charts. Sooooo….whats a record company to do? Respect HBD’s type of talent and make limited cash….or provide enought catchy tunes on the 1st album that will insure HBD can release a 2nd or 3rd or 4th album. Its not “selling out”…its being fking smart.

  6. sammy permalink
    September 22, 2009 4:52 pm

    where are all these over enthusiastic Adam fans I keep seeing referenced on here? I swear sometimes I think it’s a figment of people’s imaginations. I do see Adam’s fans excited about his music. I do see them saying he’s brought something that’s been missing for a long time in music (namely a male voice that is amazing and versatile and not indie white guy with guitar).

    I see much more “putting down” of Adam and his fans than their behavior would indicate is necessary.

    But then again, I don’t troll every single Adam message board seeking out this delusional behavior and why anyone else would is a mystery.

    As for the song, I think Kris did a credible job with it. However, The Script did it better.

    • Caitlyn permalink
      September 22, 2009 7:11 pm

      “But then again, I don’t troll every single Adam message board seeking out this delusional behavior and why anyone else would is a mystery.”

      The delusional stuff does exist, and it seems to happen to every contestant on that show, especially the more popular ones–Daughtry and Cook still seem to be dealing with it, which must be irritating.

      But I do think that most fans of Adam, Kris, and Allison (if we’re going by the ones who are signed) are rational and don’t expect something that will change the face of music from a first album produced in a few months while on a 50 city tour.

      And I don’t think that Adam or Kris were “selling out” by going on the show: it’s extremely hard to get discovered. AI offers a really good platform for that, and they took that opportunity.

    • TopIdol permalink
      September 22, 2009 8:38 pm

      A figment of the imagination? Then who were those people calling me a violent hater and homophobe? 🙂

  7. kimberly permalink
    September 22, 2009 1:06 pm

    Glad you liked the quote. Your review was spot-on. I’m willing to cut Kris a break on the single. Like I said — need to make money to feed the music making habit. Selling-out? I don’t think so. He picked a cool song in his genre with relatable lyrics. It isn’t earth-shattering, but it is enjoyable. American Bandstand says: “it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it”. Why the hell does everything need to be so monumental, so epic? Most people’s lives aren’t, so why put it on a young kid from Arkansas just starting in the business? He’s got a lot to learn, but the one thing he does have is a love for music. This song will sell and maybe his album will sell, giving him time to grow. A stripped-down, acoutstic only version won’t sell on TOP 40. It’s a give and take. I think with this song Kris compromised a little, but he still remained true to himself. Again, I think there’s some gems on the album, especially his songs and the co-writes with the likes of Mat Kearney.

    To be perfectly honest, I like Adam Lambert’s voice, but I think I’ll need to stay off the blogs and such when his album comes out. I won’t be able to tolerate the media blitz and the fantarding. I’m just not strong enough.

    • deez permalink
      September 22, 2009 4:02 pm

      “I think I’ll need to stay off the blogs and such when his album comes out. I won’t be able to tolerate the media blitz and the fantarding. I’m just not strong enough.”

      A wise choice. We may all be trampled by the stampede.

    • badmood permalink
      September 22, 2009 10:58 pm

      Thank you! He can’t make an album full of unplugged acoustic tracks, come on. And he’s always stated that he’ll go the pop-rock route on the album.

  8. SarahBeth permalink
    September 22, 2009 12:52 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your take on this — I was curious. That being said, the song is starting to grow on me. I listened to it on his official site last night and the quality there is very good. It’s a good driving song, catchy and upbeat. I just find it overproduced and I think that Kris gets drowned out in the vocals a bit by the music. I’d love to hear this live because I think it’ll be much better, and stripped down? Most definitely.

  9. September 22, 2009 11:27 am

    Top Idol, I agree with your analysis of the current music scene. It has to be extremely challenging to come up with something original. I found Kris’s new single a bid disappointing. It would have been better stripped down and with Kris playing the guitar.

    Adam is doing what he loves. It may not be new but he does bring enthusiasm and ecitement. Adam does know how to bring it! My feeling has always been; real talent doesn’t have to be theatrical. It is my hope that Adam will maintain balance with his music performances. This may be just whistling in the dark. Adam’s performances will probably always be over the top. That’s the way he likes it. . .

  10. LeighKat permalink
    September 22, 2009 11:19 am

    Enjoyed your review! eye opening in many respects.

    As it relates to Kris’s new single, I actually love the song- although I must admit that I was a bit disappointed that the label didn’t choose a single that was co-written by Kris to kick things off.

    Your observation about Idol fans is really interesting, and sadly, it’s also true. Many of them are not REALLY about the music and emotional connection- it seems to be more about the frenzy and the hype.
    I learned about Kris Allen because of American Idol but, I was never an Idol fan and I never watched the show before this season. What was the pull? Kris Allen! I think that his ability to connect to music and make the listener actually feel something is going to make him successful- in spite of all the hurdles he will face. It’s ironic, the machine that brought him to the forefront is also his biggest obstacle.

    Where we seem to differ- you post implies that Kris doesn’t connect in Live Like Were Dying and that he seems to be going through the motions (am I wrong?) I, on the other hand, still get the feeling that Kris committed himself to the song and he relates to it in someway. That’s what drew me in and made me love it- cheesy airplane lines and all! 🙂

    • TopIdol permalink
      September 22, 2009 11:22 am

      I think the over production of the song detracts from his typical emotional connection to the music, as well as the fact the Idol machine makes the signed contestants record a debut album in a ridiculously short amount of time while also sending them on a cross-country tour.

  11. MAM permalink
    September 22, 2009 7:27 am

    “Love overcomes hate. Love has no color. Love has no orientation. All is love. :)” Adam Lambert

  12. Tristan permalink
    September 22, 2009 4:59 am

    “He just got lucky that he sold out to reality tv when his stage career didn’t take off in LA and horny frauen accepted and want to fuck him.”

    Maybe there are some fans who are delusional but I still believe that there are more who admire Adam for his talent, charisma and personality. Of course, there are also people like you who despise him for whatever reason which only you could understand. Yeah, he sold out to reality tv, and so did Carrie, Kelly, Daughtry et al.

    • badmood permalink
      September 22, 2009 9:49 am

      Lol you don’t really have to take anything VFTW says so seriously

  13. September 22, 2009 2:57 am

    Your information is very helpful

  14. September 22, 2009 2:55 am

    Adam’s fans may be a bit young to remember Ziggy Stardust. I still can’t get over how much he looks like Jack Grisham of TSOL.

  15. on the edge permalink
    September 21, 2009 11:55 pm

    I already posted this on the 20 second thread but it bears repeating. I like the song and liked it from the first time I heard The Script’s version. I think it will do well for Kris. That being said I hope this is the low end of the album tracks. 19E seems to repeat a trend of releasing the WORST track for the first single. If this is an indication I’m not worried about Kris’ album. I’m frankly looking forward to hearing this live (as I think that, like David Cook, Kris probably sounds better live and stripped of the over-production).

    Finally, I gotta say I liked the song but it didn’t MOVE me. Now, I downloaded Pearl Jam’s new album Backspacer tonight, and the track “Just Breathe”? THAT moved me.

  16. cimi permalink
    September 21, 2009 11:12 pm

    I think Lady Gaga is a Madonna wanna be….This struck me as I watching a performance of hers on utube (vma). She is no Madonna though. I find her half-nakedness to be disgusting and absurd. If she was truly a performer to be desired, why would she need this added shock-fator?? give me a break. A true artist (in my book) doesn’t need to attract attention in that absurd way. I do like her song “Polker face”, but come on–put some clothes back on, lady.

  17. Tristan permalink
    September 21, 2009 11:03 pm

    Just because Kris single didnt impress you, that’s no reason to bring Adam down. Kris has always been generic and boring both on record and live. He is likeable because he is unassuming but he is not a GREAT artist and performer.

    Adam didnt say that he is revolutionary and extra ordinary because he is not. Yes, some of his fans thinks he is but I believe there are a lot of artists who are much better than Adam. He just got lucky that he got discovered and America accepted and loved him.

    • TopIdol permalink
      September 21, 2009 11:09 pm

      I agree. And I wasn’t trying to bring Adam down.

      I don’t think Lambert thinks he is revolutionary. I believe many of his fans have put him up on such a high pedestal and have claimed as such.

    • September 22, 2009 12:49 am

      He just got lucky that he got discovered and America accepted and loved him.


      He just got lucky that he sold out to reality tv when his stage career didn’t take off in LA and horny frauen accepted and want to fuck him.

    • Caitlin permalink
      September 22, 2009 7:20 am

      As far as I remember, Kris and Adam have both said that they hope to be distinctive, but neither has any pretense of being some kind of music revolutionary, and yeah, any fan who’s anticipating that is delusional.

      I do think that Adam’s voice is unusual and that as a vocalist he’s genuinely something special; same with Allison–voices like theirs are not unheard of or anything, but they’re not common either (I like Kris’s voice, it’s not as unusual as Adam’s or Allison’s, but it’s really smooth and pleasant to listen to and extremely radio-friendly). But having a great voice doesn’t equal being a revolutionary, obviously. And I think that most fans are sane enough to recognize that. And certainly the fans they will all have to pick up outside the idolsphere to maintain any kind of reasonable career aren’t expecting them to change the face of music.

    • wino permalink
      September 22, 2009 6:28 pm

      LOL, from a 1000 world post, you choose to focus on 7 simple words? “the same goes for Adam Lambert, too”. i was pretty good at reading comprehension in school….how exactly does that sentence, given its context, put adam down? it was just an aside that kris and adam should not be saddled with high expectation.

      and umm, pot please meet kettle….love how you have the nerve to call out TopIdol for (assumingly) putting down Adam by then taking aim at HBD. wow. classic post.

  18. badmood permalink
    September 21, 2009 10:16 pm

    LOL I’ve got to run soon so I skimmed over and damn, what an ~*inspirational*~ concluding paragraph.

    Does Adam consider himself a revolutionary though? What I look forward to from what he says about the album is the varied genres he’ll tackle. I don’t think he says it’ll be the dawn of a new musical era, unless I missed that.

    And don’t be hating on Gaga, she cool. I agree with you though if only because you’re taking the word ‘original’ way too literally. The fact that it’s been done before doesn’t detract from the entertainment.

    • TopIdol permalink
      September 21, 2009 10:22 pm

      Lady GaGa has Perez Hilton for a cabana boy. Unless she starts dragging him around on a leash (he must be on all fours), my appreciation for GaGa begins and ends with the first two months I heard Poker Face.

      • badmood permalink
        September 21, 2009 10:40 pm

        Eh, really? Because of Perez? I know little about that guy to be honest (aside from him being a horrifically ugly douche), and I intend for that to stay that way. Gaga’s music is not at all special, she herself says so, it’s just fun stuff to listen to, as well as her performances.

        But I’m also the kind of person who judges artists based almost solely on the music they make, since you know, that’s what they’re here for…

        • TopIdol permalink
          September 21, 2009 10:46 pm

          I’ve never been able to get through a song by Anne Murray or Dionne Warwick because their voices just make me want to jump out of a window. I could give a damn about the latter’s psychic friends, I just never liked her voice.

          Lady GaGa just irritates me, her insistence that everything she does is art. It’s all been done before. Maybe she wants Perez Hilton to be her Truman Capote, who knows. Her music is catchy. I do like how its all sing-songy but talking about being wasted and being a dirty whore. I’ll give her that much.

  19. September 21, 2009 10:16 pm

    Personally I find the song unsurprising but disappointing. If they peeled off several layers of all that over production they might find him in there. It would work better semi acoustic, as it is right now it sounds like too many other songs. I heard it a few hours ago and I cannot even summon a memory of the chorus off the top of my head right now.

    I still hope it does well, just to irk the militant Madam frauen. 😈

    And frankly, if you’ve never seen the likes of an Adam Lambert or a Lady GaGa before 2009, perhaps you should get leave your house.

    Exactly. Neither are new or groundbreaking. I like Gaga’s sly sense of humour. But she’s replicating so much of the eighties.

    • TopIdol permalink
      September 21, 2009 10:23 pm

      And Michael Alig. Lady GaGa is Michael Alig 2.0…although I doubt she will kill anybody.

      • blacklisted permalink
        September 22, 2009 3:50 am

        ‘And Michael Alig. Lady GaGa is Michael Alig 2.0…although I doubt she will kill anybody.’

        Speaking as a former club kid, I have to say that Gaga is probably as sociopathic as Kenny Kenny. Seriously, I might have forgotten the last three months of 1990 but who could forget KK? Oh well, it’s bad enough that Lady Gaga completely bit off what he was wearing at Limelight and Palace de Beaute 20 years ago but for people not to know how much she took from her ‘forefathers’? Sad. Same thing with the rest. I love Adam but he’s not ‘revolutionary’ and I doubt that he would call his style ‘original’.

    • Claire permalink
      September 22, 2009 12:59 pm

      “I still hope it does well, just to irk the militant Madam frauen”

      Yes, this. For some (definitely not all) of his more passionate fans, it won’t be enough for Adam to be successful, but everyone else has to fail miserably so they can gloat about him being the “rightful” winner of his season. Between this and Perez hating it, this song has become my new favorite song of all time 🙂

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