Colombia Records / Sony Music Entetainment
Release Date: July 16th 2021
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Have you ever listened to a song, an artist, maybe an entire discography, and have been totally amazed, flabbergasted, lost for words, full of pride and admiration, for the artist- even from the get-go? Have you ever listened to a song and been grateful that you are alive in this very moment while this particular artist is alive, to breathe the same air as them? On second thought…wow, that sounded creepy and hero-worship like, don’t you think? No, but seriously, have you heard a song by an artist, and have concluded from the outset that ‘this person gets it, he/she knows what the point of music is, and that that’s what music is all about!’? Have you ever heard a song and immediately concluded that this artist is ahead of their time and is bound to be an instant fan favourite and a future star? Perhaps it was an artist who was very young and they were writing music as accomplished and as resonating as veterans of 30 or 40 years. Or perhaps they were talked about as being a has-been, a fading star that has recently recaptured their spark and has also ‘made it’ with the younger crowd. Whatever the case, I am sure there has been one artist that has clicked with you, that has made you want to dive deeper into music as a whole and has challenged you with questions about life, love, death and everything else in between. For me there have been several- influential artists whom both Jon and I have written about, that have stood and are going to stand the test of time, and have indeed written about and sung about meaty issues and often taboo topics. Artists that have looked at a blank canvas and have declared “Yes, I will sing about this, this, and this, even if it doesn’t win me any awards”. Artists that have used a proverbial blank piece of paper and a proverbial paint brush and just painted for themselves, and not for others. Artists who aren’t afraid to shake the status quo, artists who in my mind are fearless. So for these artists, you can read about them in our blog series, and yes, I intend to briefly touch upon another artist right here and now- but let me first speak about the concept of walking fearlessly and what that mindset does for you.
There once was a man who walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. After the tightrope had been fixed in place, he started gathering a crowd to watch his daring and dangerous feat. “Come one! Come all!” he shouted into his bullhorn. “Watch me walk above Niagara Falls, balancing on nothing more than this little rope!”
As people started gathering, he passed around a sample of the rope so people could see how small it was. “One little slip, and I will tumble to my death in the waters below!” he shouted. “You never know when I might fall. The rope is getting wet from the misting water. A wind is coming up the gorge. I don’t want to die, but today could be the day!”
Most of the crowd shouted that they believed he could do it. Many of them cheered him on to try it. So he climbed up onto the rope, and balanced his way across Niagara Falls. When he reached the far side, he turned around and came back. He didn’t slip. He didn’t fall. In fact, he barely wobbled or wavered. So when he returned to the safety of the shore, he motioned with his hands for the cheering crowd to quiet down.
“That was too easy!” he yelled. “That wasn’t a challenge for me at all! Let’s make it more difficult! Who believes I can do again, but this time, while pushing a wheelbarrow? If my hands are on the wheelbarrow, I will not be able to use them to balance on the rope. Shall I give it a try? Do you believe I can do it?” He motioned to a nearby wheelbarrow, which he had brought for this very purpose.
The crowd cheered their approval, which caused the number of gathering people to swell even further. So with the help of two nearby men, he lifted a wheelbarrow up onto the rope, and then started pushing it across the Falls. He went more slowly this time, and even had a few wobbles, which caused the crowd to gasp and cry out with fear, but he made it to the other side and back without any great problem. The crowd went wild.
“That was too easy!” he yelled. “Who believes I can do it again, but this time, with another person inside the wheelbarrow?” The crowd roared their approval. “I would not only be risking my own life, but also the life of the person in the wheelbarrow,” the man shouted to the crowd. “With a show of hands, let me see how many of you believe I can do this!” Almost every person in the large crowd raised their hand. It was nearly unanimous.
“Wonderful! I am so glad to see that you have such faith in me! I think I will give it a shot!” the man yelled. “Now … among all of you who raised your hand, do I have a volunteer to get into the wheelbarrow?” Every hand in the large crowd went down. “What?” said the man. “You’ve seen me walk across Niagara Falls twice without any problems, once while pushing this wheelbarrow! And most of you believe I can do it with someone else in the wheelbarrow with me! But when I ask which of you wants to get into the wheelbarrow, none of you volunteer? Do you believe I can do it or not?”
There are sometimes during the weeks where I sit and ponder and wonder. What really, really constitutes a great song or artist? Is it the message of the melody, the lyrics, what is being said, that would make the song stand the test of time in the end? Is it the musical composition, and the various layers of guitars, drums, keyboards and the like, that evoke different emotions, considering who is listening to it? Is it the general perception of the artist that determines whether a song or even an album by that artist, is successful, impactful or even decade-defying or not? Does an artist make a song, or can a song make an artist? These are the questions that have been haunting fans of music, and critics of it, for quite some time, and as we sit and think about all this, in 2020; I don’t think we’ve ever come to a clear conclusion sooner, if at all. For artists, songs, and albums are people’s preferences, and what one person can deem in their own lives as influential, the other can avoid with a ten-foot-pole. That’s just life, and there’s millions of genres available for people to listen to, to their hearts content. Music is very, very subjective, and so for me to tackle this year-long (and then some), project, about the top 100 Influential Artists (in my very own subjective opinion)- and then to top it off, 40 artists that are deemed the ‘classics’…you see what I mean right? People can call this ‘music experiment’ mere folly. And yet for me upon reflection- since I started embarking on this vastly daunting (yet equally exciting and rewarding) venture, I’ve been realising that such an exercise as this, as led me to appreciate music in all its facets all the more.