“There are heroes and there are legends, heroes get remembered but legends never die”. With the passing of country legend Kenny Rogers on Mar 20, 2020, at the age of 81, an era has come to an end. Music never fails to grab our emotions. We enjoy listening to music and reading the best reviews of our favorite artists. ListenOnRepeat presents you with the weekly reviews of week Mar 15 – Mar 22. Happy reading!
Kenny Rogers – The Gambler
Country music legend Kenny Rogers has peacefully passed away at the age of 81. The three-time Grammy winner hit his heights in the 70s and 80s, where he was celebrated for a husky voice and an unmatched tonal delivery. He once described his popularity by stating that his music said “what every man wants to say” and what “every woman wants to hear.” Though never a critic’s favorite, Rogers was one of the most successful artists in American history in terms of album sales, and he never truly lost relevance even in his later years.
When an artist of his stature passes away, there is an inevitable climb in the charts for all of their greatest records. People tend to treat the passing as an opportunity for remembrance, and the songs they use are a good indicator of the hall-markers for that artist’s legacy going forward. With Rogers there were a few options to pick from: “Islands in the Stream,” his crossover smash hit with Dolly Parton; “Lucile,” “Lady,” and many other country standards like “Coward of the Country” and “We’ve Got Tonight” … while all of these have spiked in terms of downloads and listens, there is one song that has risen above them all, claiming top spots in pretty much all downloads tables.
“The Gambler” had another resurgence in 2007 when it became the unofficial anthem for the England rugby team. Now, it is acting as a hub for tributes from across the world. In the song, Rogers delivers the cautionary tale of the gambler, a person whose secret to survival is “knowing what to throw away and what to keep.” The piece is a masterstroke in narrative music-making, and it will continue to represent Rogers’ story for years to come.
OneRepublic – Didn’t I
The new track by OneRepublic, “Didn’t I,” combines everything that the group has become so popular for simple vocals with emotional delivery, electronic drums and epic synths that build into a chorus in which everything finally reaches a climax.
The incredibly popular pop-rock band from Colorado first announced that they were working on their fifth studio album, Human, back in 2017. However, all the various delays that come from both the creative and business sides of things have meant that the record still hasn’t seen the light of day. With the full project slated for May, 8, “Didn’t I” acts as a preemptive single, and with nearly a million views on Youtube in one weekend, it has certainly got their fans excited.
According to statements from the band, they are “no respecters of the genre.” Instead, they prefer to focus on the effect a song has, rather than its musical DNA. Having said that, the group’s releases are never too wildly different from each other and they certainly stick to a formula that works.
If we needed to find common threads between their tracks, it could be said that they are searching for greatness, in everything from their musical tone to their utterances. They have even gone as far as citing the likes of Mozart, The Beatles, and Prince as acts who have had an influence on them. It would take a super fan to treat this statement with the same sincerity it was delivered with.
“Didn’t I” is a song that focuses on lost love, reminiscing about plans that were made and the mistakes that followed them. The band performs in a stately home, and renaissance art acts as a backdrop for the breakdown of the couple’s romance. As the camera zooms through the corridors, the group’s singer can be seen, head in hands, brow furrowed, describing the loss.
Watch OneRepublic – Didn’t I
Brian McKnight – Back At One
Brian McKnight is a singer of soul and Motown whose career spans many decades. He has been nominated for a total of 16 Grammys despite never having won one. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, until now. It is a strange turn of events that has led McKnight to headlines once again, and though he is a musician that can’t be said to have been on the radar of millennials, he has certainly made himself part of the conversation once more.
It all began through a performance on the voice that was given by a contestant called Roderick Chambers. That performance, in which he delivered a belter of a version of “Back At One” is gathering views fast, and it has led people to rediscover the original. Now, McKnight’s 1999 Motown release is climbing the downloads charts. Who would have thought it?
Here is a chance, for all that haven’t yet gone down memory lane, to rediscover the magic of the late 90s. though the music has proven that it has got real legs, the official video certainly seems dated. McKnight is all polo-necks, sultry stares into the camera’s lens, and smooth hand gestures. Behind him, an orchestra provides the accompaniment, and an audience sways the to soul pouring forth.
The lyrics talk of a prospective lover and McKnight delivers arguments of why they should be together. It is a well-structured pitch, as can be seen in the chorus: “One, you’re like a dream come true/ Two, just wanna be with you/ Three, girl it’s plain to see” etc, etc for numbers four and five.
Though McKnight hasn’t yet tweeted about the song’s resurgence, it isn’t hard to imagine how happy he is. It’s not every day that an archive piece becomes relevant again.
Luke Bryan – One Margarita
The country comes to the beach with Luke Bryan’s new track, “One Margarita.” Along with his party crew, Luke dances on the sand wearing palm tree swimming trunks, sipping on frozen drinks and coconuts with straws in, and smiling at the camera as a mariachi band plays in the background and Day of the Dead carnival people mingle with the crowd.
It is Mexico, with American tourists, as made evident in the first line: “Everybody here ain’t from here but we’re here doing our thing.” That is to say that there is a suitably exotic tinge to what we are seeing, something you can rarely say about country-pop songs.
In essence, this is a track about letting loose, “little by little” as the lyrics tell us. Luke plays the role of a fun-time guy, strumming his guitar in bare feet, and pouring drinks as he goes. Gone are the worries that weave themselves into 50% of country songs, the lost loves, the regrets, the reminiscing … this is a place where all that fades away.
Comments sections seem to agree: “For 3 minutes 18 seconds I was in my own world & not hearing the word ‘Coronavirus’ & it was so nice.” Indeed, Luke Byran’s new track does act as a balm for difficult times if looked at through a particular lens. After all, it could be a while before large groups of people are able to drink margaritas together in some parts of the world.
Bryan is tongue-in-cheek about the whole thing. On Twitter, he quipped “no fun was had in the making of this video … ” to his nearly 10 million followers. “One Margarita” is the latest release from BornHereLiveHereDieHere, an album which will surely mark just another chapter on the extraordinary career of this modern country star.
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