I'm just going to just call it like it is: single male musicians are having a moment. Charlie Puth, Shawn Mendes, Donald Glover, Frank Ocean, Harry Styles, and Kendrick all said so.
In 2001, Room For Squares was huge for me, way up on my 6 CD-changing stereo rotation. John Mayer was often chosen above the other hits that summer—over Jessica Simpson and 98 Degrees, Blink 182 and Mandy Moore. There was something so rustic about the Connecticut born newcomer, his voice a little edgy but his guitar strums romantic as hell. "Neon," "3 x 5"... I was smitten; my mom was a big fan too.
Over the next decade and a half, John slowly fell out of my heart. I paid attention, but lost my lust. Yes, there were stand out tracks on his next 5 studio albums ("Vultures" from 2006's Continuum is still one of my favorites), but I didn't care for the twangy, cheesy sounds that became consistent in his music. And, Mayer's developing reputation for douchery, his womanizing, and the many slips of tongue did not help his case. "There have probably been days when I saw 300 vaginas before I got out of bed," he told Playboy in 2012 of his pornography habit. Really, dude?
In Mayer's defense, it would be unfair to say he didn't forewarn us of his knack for dumb-ass comments (there were plenty more, here's another example of blabbery in Rolling Stone) from the beginning: track 3 on the Room For Squares is entitled "My Stupid Mouth."
Refreshingly, in the first two waves of his upcoming album, The Search For Everything, there's an obvious rewind to the tender sounds that I fell so hard for as a 12 year old. "Still Feel Like Your Man" is a charming, sharp and upbeat harmony—not to mention the vulnerability of a song clearly written for an ex (ahem, Katy Perry). And "You're Going To Live Forever In Me" has that feel good James Taylor-esque quality that sticks. The lyrics allude to a certain 'I know I fucked up' ("If I'm helpless, tell me now, and I'll stop trying to figure it out," he sings in "Helpless"), but I truly believe the man wants to turn a new leaf.
So, I think I'm ready to give him another chance, open up my heart for John once again. For as perverted as he very well may be, his music is so at odds with the man in the interview. Why would such a vile casanova sing such sensitive, wooing sounds (as opposed to, say, someone like The Weeknd, who shamelessly admits "I only fuck you when it's half past 5")? Music speaks louder than words, my friends. "I may be old and I may be young, but I am not done changing," he croons on Wave One of his new album, plainly seeking our forgiveness. I accept.
The full The Search For Everything is out April 14th from Columbia Records.
There's something about Jillian Rose Banks—aka Banks—that just hits all the right notes for me. Maybe part of it is the Victoria's Secret commercial to the tune of her "Waiting Game"... but the California songstress herself is so undeniably sexy.
If I were to use one word to describe her voice, it would be tantalizing. A little cryptic, a lot of soul. Dark. It is hard not to take this girl seriously. And I can't seem to take my eyes off of her. I started my binge with "Gemini Feed" and fell down a k-hole of video goodness from there. The way she grabs you with her presence. Man.
So you can imagine the happiness I felt this weekend when I saw Banks featured in the October issue of Glamour. So well deserved, and what a delight. I'm also truly happy that the magazine hasn't lost its music edge in my absence. Wink.
"I think I'm sexy, and I don't give a f--k if you think I'm sexy," she tells Glamour. For the record (and I'm sure by this point you can tell), I do.
Her new album, The Altar, is out September 30.
For someone that taunts with false hope, at least the eventual delivery is worthwhile. Yes, I'm talking to you, Frank Ocean—your unexpected stream of weekend treats that came in the form of a visual album on Friday, a music video on Saturday, and a full-length album this morning—one after another. The return of the voice that makes my knees weak. I may have called you
Frank-oncé at first, but I would now argue that this surprise has a very different weight than others. Anticipation built up for years, only one big project before it, a lot to prove. So thank you for giving us enough to satiate our hungry appetites. Kind of you, really.
While at first I found the releases and tracks themselves a bit random (black and white Frank doppelgängers in Endless, drug rants, a track inspired by a Facebook Story) the more I listen the more cohesive it sounds together, and the more I fall in love. There are the perfectly sung, upbeat tracks (Pink + White, Nights), the guitar-laden romantics (Ivy), and the deeper, more vulnerable Frank that we so adore. "Maybe I'm a fool, maybe I should move, and settle. I'm not brave. Been living in an idea, an idea from another man's mind," he sings in Seigfried. Introspective, the way we like him.
You can hear Ocean's perfectionism in every verse, you can almost feel the patience this project took on his end. He wanted to get everything just right—a hefty delivery that I will argue is worth the long, long wait. Instant gratification has its perks, but why rush through something this elusive? Music so good it almost brings me to tears—truly. This is art to spend some time on, to absorb. So thank you for the delivery, Frank. A good lesson in patience, I'll admit.