Some artists constantly change up their formula, while others are content. There is nothing wrong with being content, but sometimes it puts your artistry into serious questioning. There are many artists I could characterize as ‘one dimensional’, but I chose five who truly epitomize this description. And yes, some of these are artists I highly respect and listen to. I’m a meanie, I know.
I really do respect and enjoy India. Arie’s music, but I feel that she hasn’t truly ‘spread’ her wings for a couple of albums. I’m all about “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but still… “Video” will always be a classic, but can the same be said of “Cocoa Butter” from 2013’s quietly released SongVersation? Arie is one of those artists who’s so ‘chill’ that she sometimes comes off a bit boring and blasé. She remains prudent mind you, but I wouldn’t mind if she shook things up just a wee bit.
Another artist I really respect and enjoy listening to is John Mayer. However, since his best album Continuum (with all the blues and soulfulness), he’s not had that same spark. Battle Studies had its moments (“Who Says” and “Half of My Heart” among them), while both Born and Raised and Paradise Valley were enjoyable but lacked the spark of his earlier efforts. Or maybe they just lack the ‘commercial’, pop appeal. I mean he doesn’t have to relive “Waiting on the World to Change” but still…
I don’t know about everyone else, but frankly I’m pretty tired of hearing about Wiz smoking weed. Because of this lack of range (or artistry), Wiz’s sophomore album O.N.I.F.C. was incredibly forgettable. As I’ve referenced earlier, his song “It’s Nothin’” featuring 2 Chainz truly was ‘nothing’. Of course, the lack of another banger like “Black & Yellow” would hurt anybody. Still, no pass Wiz!
One Direction (and various other teen-pop bands/artists)
Before I get stoned, this doesn’t merely apply to One Direction. Why are they highlighted? Well they are easily the most popular boy-band / teen pop artist(s) not named Justin Bieber. Basically, the formula for the teen pop band is what makes the majority of them one dimensional. The format is so tried and true that in many respects, it hurts the artistry. We’ve come to expect extraordinarily good-looking girls/guys and corn-ball/schmaltzy songs slated somewhere between pop, R&B and rock. Sure, One Direction’s Take Me Home was a good album contextually considering its fan base, but other than teen girls, who’s really listing them as their favorite ‘artist’? Exactly.
Last year I wouldn’t have listed The Weeknd on this list, but Kiss Land had a hand in this change of heart. I enjoy listening to The Weeknd… on Trilogy. As for Kiss Land, he boxes himself into the same thing he did on his mixtapes only he does it much less satisfyingly. The voice is still incredible, but how many more times do you sing about weed consumption, being oversexed, so on and so forth? I’d say the same about The-Dream, whose IV Play was clumsy as albeit and lacked the fun of the artists previous efforts.
Isn’t this one obvious? This man goes dumber than fudge… replace ‘fudge’ with another word. I’m not gonna lie, I own both of his albums and was even onboard during his “Duffle Bag Boy” days when he was Tity Boi in Playaz Circle, but that doesn’t mean I don’t consider him ‘one dimensional’. That said, can anyone really imagine ole boy being truly serious? Nope, didn’t think so.
- Playlist: September 2013 Jams To Lead Into October (brentmusicreviews.com)