So picture this: For months, you’ve been hearing about the new solo projects from two of your favorite performers. You’ve waited patiently. You’ve read the blog updates, listened to their previous solo albums, anxiously anticipating their release dates.
They are released within weeks of each other, and you order them both at the same time to save money on shipping. They arrive. You rejoice! The next morning, you risk being late to work (and in fact, you are late to work) because you forgot to upload the albums to your iPod the night before, and have been looking forward to listening to the albums at work that day. They upload. You leave your apartment, and while walking to the train, you start listening the album from Artist 1. It’s magnificent, containing newer, crisper versions of a few live bootleg songs you’ve been listening to for months. The tracks you don’t know you like, and after a few listens, you love. It’s not quite a slam dunk, but it’s pretty darn close. You finish listening to the album by the time you get to work, and immediately want to listen to it again. But you don’t. You decide to listen to the Other Solo Album, by Artist 2.
Both artists are frontwomen for their bands. Artist 1 has toured solo, though this is her first solo album. Artist 2 has one solo album under her belt. Said album pretty much spent the fall of 2006 in your iPod on repeat. It is amazing. Her voice is rich and beautiful; the songs are both deep and clever. While the style of song is different from her band, the whimsy/seriousness of the lyrics remain the same. You love lyrics, so this is perfect for you.
You can’t WAIT to listen to Artist 2’s new solo album. You know that it might not be as good as her first solo album, but still, it’s gotta be good. The voice alone …
You get to work, settle in, and turn it on.
The hell? What the fuck is this? You check your iPod screen to make sure you are, in fact, listening to Artist 2. You are.
Except you aren’t. The voice is all wrong. The music is shit. And the lyrics? Psshh.
You listen to it in full once out of loyalty, but can’t bear to listen to it again. Friends tell you that, really, after a few listens, some of the songs kinda start to grow on you. A few weeks go by, and today, you try to give Artist 2 another chance. You get 30 seconds into the first track before you’ve gotta turn it off, and go back to Artist 1.
They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They also say try new things and continue to grow. Artist 1 stuck with what works for her. Some of the music is different, but the heart of it – her voice, her piano – remain the same. Artist 2 took a big risk. She completely changed up her style. Taking a risk is good. But in the case of Artist 2, it did not pay off.
As a fan, a consumer, and a listener, Artist 2 delivered a big disappointment. You were SO excited. Is there anything more disappointing then having something you were anticipating for months not pay off?
In the case of Amanda Palmer vs. Jenny Lewis, Palmer wins it. Big time. (Psst: She’s playing at the 9:30 Club in about a month. Any takers? Anyone?)
Jenny Lewis: We still love you. But what the hell were you thinking?