25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2014
Like many of you I was first introduced to this band when they performed the plaintive ballad "Say Something" on an episode of The Voice. I found the melody of this song so piercingly beautiful I couldn't wait for the release of their debut album "Is Anybody Out There?" So does it live up to expectations? I am happy to report I LOVE this record. If you are in search the kind of unpretentious pop music that will put a big smile on your face and keep you uplifted buy this CD now.
A Great Big World draws inspiration from some of the best pop artists in music history, including The Beatles, Queen and Elton John. Combining irresistible hooks with beautifully orchestrated vocals and upbeat lyrics, there is barely a weak cut on this CD. Here is my take on the individual songs:
1) Rockstar: Star-crossed lovers wonder Is there anybody out there in this totally infectious pop confection featuring the group's trademark gorgeous vocal harmonies building to a choral climax. Great opener.
2) Land Of Opportunity: Up-tempo rock influenced cut that showcases the band's restless creativity, including a Dixieland brass band instrumental break and flawless vocal harmonies.
3)Already Home: A romantic piano ballad in the mold of "Say Something." This one addresses a long-distance relationship, beseeching his lover to "promise to wait for me." Another simple yet beautiful melody.
4) I Really Want It: An up-tempo synth-pop based piece with the message that the more we love the more we learn. A contemporary take on the Beatles "All You Need Is Love."
5) Say Something: The song that deservedly put this group at the top of the ITunes Chart. My favorite romantic ballad of recent years. A great melody wedded to poignant lyrics.
6) You'll Be Okay: A driving rock ballad reassuring the listener that "the sun will rise to better days." Reminds me of The Beatles classic "Here Comes The Sun." Builds beautifully, love the organ fills at the end of the piece.
7) Everyone Is Gay: A theatrical song with a very gay-positive message, clever lyrics ("If you're straight well that's great-you can help procreate and make gay little babies for the whole human race") and rich vocal harmonies. I predict this could become the new gay anthem.
8) There Is An Answer: I love the syncopated melody in this medium-tempo inspirational piece promoting our shared humanity. (Random note: The opening melody sounds like the theme from Hill Street Blues.)
9) I Don't Wanna Love Somebody Else: Unabashedly romantic lyrics on this beautifully melancholy ballad built on a lush instrumental bed of guitar and strings. Warm falsetto infused vocals.
10) This Is The New Year: This song was featured last year on a Glee episode. This piece reminds me of `80's era Billy Joel (i.e. My Life). A rhythmically dynamic piece that should replace Auld Lang Syne as the new standard to launch every year with. Another great hook.
11) Shorty Don't Wait: A simple acoustic-guitar based sing-along type melody that is the least interesting piece musically and lyrically though it does have a country-gospel feel.
12) Cheer Up: A novelty song that is a bit of a throwaway. The instrumental track sounds like the kind of music you would hear while riding a carousel Sweet offbeat lyric.
13) Say Something with Christina Aguilera: Her harmony vocal adds beauty and texture to the original recording.
So overall a very strong debut record. This should also appeal to fans of Jason Mraz Mika and fun. This album celebrates the simple pleasures of melodic pop music.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2014
When I first heard the song "Say Something", I was somehow convinced that I wouldn't like this new band, A Great Big World. The song was a little too slow for my taste, and the melody a little too melancholy. Others praised the song for the intense emotions it was able to deliver and the great vocals provided by the band. I, however, was convinced that I wouldn't end up being a supporter of this hipster sounding band.
Upon realizing that their album had just been released, I decided to give them another listen and was more than pleasantly surprised. The songs on the album were nothing like what we've been hearing on the radio. The songs were mostly the happy-go-lucky songs that instantly put me in a better mood. I especially love the duets between the band members in several of the songs. Saying that they resemble the Beatles might be a bit of a stretch, but I do think they're something of a mix between Plain White T's, Owl City and We Are the Kings. This album is something new and fresh, the kind of music that hasn't been overplayed on the radio yet, and I'd recommend everybody to give it a try.
Rockstar (5/5) - The songs starts off with a repeated melody of piano notes while two of the band members switch off on leading the song. It's nice and simple. The song progresses into a chorus with some cymbals and light beats in the background. Overall, it's a great upbeat song about finding our purpose in this great big world.
Land of Opportunity (5/5) - Another super upbeat and happy sounding song, hidden behind a mask of sadness of lost love. The last minute or so of the song has a brief moment of nice trumpet melodies coupled with some big band moments that was pretty cool.
Already Home (4/5) - One of the slower songs on the album, that starts out with nothing but one of the main singers and a piano melody. The song remains smooth and peaceful through. For me, the first 30 seconds or so was the best part, but the song progresses into the kind of generic pop song.
I Really Want It (4/5) - This one was really fun for me for the first 2 listens, but then as I listened to it more it became much like the other songs, upbeat and too much repeating of the phrase "I Really Want It"
You'll Be Okay (5/5) - Lyrics and theme wise, it'd be a mix between You've Got A Friend In Me and Yesterday (Beatles). It's a slower, more evenly paced song, mixed in with the occasional drums, but mostly accompanied by the piano, and a duet within the band.
Everyone is Gay (5/5) - Probably my favorite song on the album. The lyrics made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it and I just love the lyrics in general. It's really fast and upbeat, and has that Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious feel to it, in addition to a rock tempo at times.
There is an Answer (3/5) - Another one of the more generic songs, but it's not anything to complain about. This one reminded me of a Five for Fighting song.
I Don't Wanna Love Somebody Else (5/5) - Another one of my favorite songs on the album. It's mostly just one singer's voice the whole time, with some soft piano touches and the occasional violin. It's simple, but it's perfect.
This is the New Year (3/5) - Another one of those uplifting songs that relies too heavily on the bass and the same chords at times. It didn't stand out to be too much.
Shorty Don't Wait (4/5) - I think this might be the only song on the album that relies the most on the guitar as the accompanying instrument, and it works great. It's an acoustic song, sprinkled with some gospel-y type chorus.
Cheer Up! (4/5) - This song has that children song quality, and I'm not really sure how to feel about it. It's short and the singer sounds like he could just be singing a generic children's song. But I'd say I like the change what we've been given in the rest of the album. I'm not sure this is one of those songs I'd listen to repeat though.
Say Something (5/5) - Won't say much about this one, but will just say that Christina's part really makes the song.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2014
In my 60 years I have seldom heard a more impressive debut album. Reminiscent of Beatles, death cab for cutie, and other rock/pop bands. The maturity and sensitivity of the lyrics were amazing. I love the hopeful outlook, the innocence, but know that's not the real world. But it's a wonderful escape from the evils we are surrounded by. Actually got choked up once. Great music, great themes. Buy this CD or download, you won't be sorry.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2014
A lot of what I really like is not necessarily mainstream (my boyfriend says I only listen to things nobody else listens to), but I like all kinds of music. I have never felt super compelled to encourage people to listen to what I am listening to, except in rare cases like this.
Many of you may be thinking that you have never heard of this band. I hadn’t either until I was sort of half watching The Voice last fall while reading, and heard one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. I look up and sitting there playing the piano, singing with Christina Aguilera, is this kind of doofy looking dude. I don’t judge much on appearance, but it is rare to see in any performance industry. I was so drawn to that song I looked it up to find out who that was and what the song was. The song title is “Say Something”, and the band is A Great Big World. They are two guys who met at NYU studying music. They had done some stuff previously but rebranded themselves in 2012 and things kind of went crazy for them. Their song “This is the New Year” was performed by the cast on Glee and was used in promo spots for the finale of this years The Biggest Loser.
The songs are upbeat with a positive message with only a few exceptions. The downer songs like “say Something” and “I Don’t Wanna Love Somebody Else” are beautiful and relatable to everyone at some point in their lives. I suppose there are people that have never experienced heartbreak or loss but they are few and far between.
My six year old daughter’s favorite song that she now requests all the time is “Rockstar” and is all about following your dreams. There is not a single song on this album that I have to skip or turn down for fear of her repeating inappropriate lyrics, which I love. There are a few songs “Land of opportunity”, “Everyone is Gay” and “Cheer Up” that have kind of a goofy feel to them, and a few lines that actually made me laugh out loud, but still have a good message.
The lyrics are well done, interesting and (my favorite) not overly repetitive. The music varies from simplistic but hauntingly beautiful like in “Say Something”, “I Don’t Wanna Love Somebody Else” and “Already Home”; to steering wheel drumming upbeat like “Rockstar” to calliope carnival music in “Cheer Up”. There is not a single song on this album that I did not thoroughly enjoy.
The music video for Say Something is beautiful and heart wrenching
The Tobuscus parody is awesome and hilarious
The Pentatonix version is also amazing
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2014
This is one of the most interesting albums I've purchased. Every song has its own distinct personality. Eclectic, poetic, sophisticated, & fun!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2014
In a chaotic world this album serves as a lighthouse. Wonderful from start to finish with sweeping highs (Everyone is Gay, There is an Answer) and dramtic lows (Say Something, I Don't Wanna Love Somebody Else). My heart connected to it right away. I am absolutly in love with this album. I tried it on a whim and thank God. It was just what I needed right now.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2014
A disappointing second venture from Ian Axel, who's first CD (This is the New Year) was a masterful mix of fun upbeat songs and a few tunes filled with quiet angst. Why he felt the need to join forces with Chad Vaccarino and call themselves A Great Big World is anyone's guess. It obviously didn't work to his advantage.
Say Something and This is the New Year were both released on Ian's 2011 CD and are once again included here. As for the other songs on this CD, most are fun, bouncy, polished little ditties that uncomfortably straddle the line between commercial jingles and show tunes. This is especially apparent with Rockstar, Land of Opportunity, You'll Be Okay, and There is an Answer. Shorty Don't Wait sounds like a party song sung by a room filled with slightly tipsy friends desperate to be included in the sing-along. I Really Want It is a weird little anti-religion ditty that strays dangerously close to becoming a nasty intentional insult. As for the worst tune included on this offering, Everyone is Gay, it just comes across as a silly gimmick or a public service commercial announcement/unwarranted lecture.
A mixed bag at best, not everything works here.
I'm almost sorry I bought this CD.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2014
Not a good album. Say Something is the only good song. Bummer
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino formed their duo band in 2012, naming it "A Great Big World" from part of the lyrics of their song "Cheer Up" ("It's a great big world and there's no need to cry") and listening to this album is definitely a cheery experience.
I do admit to a special fondness for "Say Something" and we're treated to the two versions on this CD, the one with just the band and the one with harmonies by Christina Aguilera. And that song is definitely not in the cheerful category, more plaintive and sad and, IMO, just plain beautiful.
So I bought this for that sad song and ended up very happy with all the other more cheerful songs on the album. This is the kind of music even an older generation can like. I mean, after all, how can you go wrong with a musical group whose go-to stop on the road is Whole Foods? (They're avid juicers.)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2014
Great new group. As least half of the songs are good enough to be released as singles. Lead singer has an awesome soft voice.