October 19, 2016

Play On Replay: EP Review

One of the things I really like about the Play EP is that it only has one traditional love song. I know love is probably the single most inspirational factor in the history of music, but I often find myself wishing for more songs focusing on other topics. I’m used to loving melodies and instrumentals and sometimes ignoring the fact that the killer guitar riff I’m nodding along with is accompanying some pretty mushy lyrics. I really like that I can connect with most of the songs on Play with or without having somebody to love, and I think that is something that Hanson also did well with Loud.

 I'm all for a bunch of "love" songs when the object of affection is music and happiness.

"Do You Believe In Love
I LOVE the sound of this song. Those stacked acapella harmonies in the beginning are simply delicious. I have always liked Queen, and I’m not the slightest bit upset to see Hanson try a song in their style. My original reaction stands: It sounds like Queen and Hanson and birthday cake and money raining from the sky. I know the obvious Queen sound has been off-putting to some and may even feel like a rip-off, but as someone who could not even come close to ripping off Queen if I tried, I’ll stay impressed. Besides, Freddie Mercury wrote “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” as a tribute to Elvis and you can definitely hear the influence, so I doubt they’d mind.


What would make me love it more?
#UnpopularOpinion alert: I’d like it more if we didn’t get the full song as an early download. I was so excited to listen to Play on October 10th, and I can just imagine how much more excited I would have been if this song was part of that moment as well.

"Freak Out"
I think this song is the main source of my procrastination for finishing this review. I don't have anything particularly good or bad to say about it. I'm hoping it's one of those songs I fall in love with when I hear it live or at random three years later, but only time will tell. One thing I will say is that as a fan blogger, I never let myself read other fans' reviews before I write my own because I don't want to influence my own opinion before I can figure out how I feel first. Since I don't actually have much of an opinion in this situation, I'm happy to be influenced and I pretty much can't wait to read what other fans had to say about this song.

"Man On Top"
I want to like "Man On Top," but I feel like I need more context or more of a background story to really enjoy it. Something about the lyrics just feels out of place to me. Why is there a song about a guy thinking he's awesome in the middle of an album about great music and feeling joyful? If "Do You Believe In Love" is in homage to Queen, "Man On Top" feels like an ode to Kanye West.

It's similar to "You Can't Stop Us," but where that song feels like exerting confidence and proving your worth to someone trying to keep you down, this one just feels cocky and over the top. And maybe cocky and over the top is the exact vibe they were going for with this song, but I need someone to connect the dots for me and explain how that fits in on Play before I can embrace it. I'm happy to say it sounds way less Clarissa Explains it All than I originally thought when we were recording the background "na na" part, but it also sounds way more Zapp Brannigan meets Ron Burgundy than I thought, too.

"Joyful Noise"

Those catchy little "la las" in the chorus have been on loop in my head since we first sang them in May. A few weeks after we heard Play when my memories began fading to a feeling rather than a sound, this is the tune that still stuck. The whole song is this idealistic concept of healing the world with joyful music, and while that may not be achievable on a global scale, I think it can totally work at the individual level if you let it. Between the upbeat piano and the "la la" part, I think "joyful" is the perfect word to describe this song, and I think Hanson did a pretty great job at capturing that feeling of joy in song form.

A fan friend of mine (other Holly) mentioned that it reminded her of a Coke commercial. I was picturing the animated ones from recent years with dancing animals and super happy music and fountains of Coke spraying joyful little streams of happiness because obviously Coke makes everything better, and I totally agreed that the vibe was similar. Turns out she was actually talking about this one, and that I somehow missed the memo that "I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing" originated as a Coke jingle. To her point, "Joyful Noise" has very similar lyrics but with their own unique Hanson sound.

I don't think of this song as a Christian song at all, but I can't quite ignore the phrasing and the fact that "Make a joyful noise" is a verbatim quote from Psalm 100. I touched on a little bit of potential Biblical influence in my rambling analysis of "Feeling Alive" as well last week, but I think in both cases the Biblical wording was chosen to reflect a general feeling of joy and thanksgiving and community more than it was meant to make any sort of religious statement.

"Feeling Alive"
I'll keep this one short because I've already exhausted any reasonable word count when it comes to this song. Suffice it to say "Feeling Alive" is a definite standout to me and I think has the potential to be my new favorite Hanson song, but I'm not allowed to make that call until the newness has worn off some. The lyrics feel meaningful and genuine and I'm proud of the final product they were able to create here. There isn't a single line that leaves me wondering what it means or wishing they had tweaked it just a little bit. The message is clear and confident and that fact is perhaps reflected in Taylor's uncharacteristically perfect enunciation throughout the song. All the gold stars. I had no idea so many people would agree.

If you've somehow managed to escape my full praise report on this song, you can check it out here.

Now it's time for you to tell me an opinion of your own.

(There's been a reported mouse/thumb mishap where someone accidentally voted for Freak Out instead of Do You Believe In Love. So for accuracy purposes, consider DYBIL having one more vote and Freak Out having one less.)

1 comment:

asphodelia said...

Woohoo! Blog time! I feel the need for a series of bullet points here.

1. I feel the same about love songs, to the point that I borderline dislike them. I want songs about universal themes, the human condition, world hunger, whatever, but sappy love songs, I'm kind of over them (weird from an Isaac girl, I know).
2. TOTALLY agree about the early download. It spoils the surprise and the overall amount of new music in one go.
3. Freak out. Well, I rest my case.
4. "Man on Top". Cocky and over the top, yes. Also, the spoken bit is so cringey it's painful. Oddly, I still enjoy the song but with reservations.
5. DAMN THE OTHER HOLLY (in a good way) - I totally thought the same about the Coke jingle, they always showed that advert at Christmas and every Italian of my age knows it, obviously in the Italian translation. I wish I'd said that in my post, but I thought the reference would be too obscure for people. Lesson learnt.
6. I didn't know about the Psalm reference but it doesn't surprise me, from Zac. Personally, even as a not very religious person, I love Biblical references and Psalms are beautiful. U2 wrote a song called '40' based on Psalm no. 40 and I love it.
7. I think 'Feeling Alive' really stands out because of Taylor's delivery and as you said, "The message is clear and confident and that fact is perhaps reflected in Taylor's uncharacteristically perfect enunciation throughout the song."
8. Really good post ;)