All Things Bright And Beautiful
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All Things Bright And Beautiful
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2011 album from singer/songwriter Adam Young AKA Owl City. All Things Bright and Beautiful finds Young expanding his sonic palette as he takes his listeners into a verdant musical dreamland on such tracks as first single "Alligator Sky," "The Real World," and "Dreams Don't Turn To Dust." Throughout the album, Young retains his trademark optimism, letting the listener know that no matter how tough times get, there's always light at the end of the tunnel. "I would feel weird if I were to communicate anything other than optimism, because it's just who I am," Young says. "It's always been in me to make Owl City a vehicle that sends a hopeful message. As a listener, I'm drawn to things that are really uplifting. When a certain melody grabs my ear, it makes me feel like I could be a better person."
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“Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn't want to live there...”
Owl City is a surreal place of bright and dreamy magical reality, filled with rich colors of raspberry, emerald, and Venetian blue: daisies push through the floor, fire and ice collide, silverware swims with sharks in the sink, butterflies surround you, and you sail in deep blue seas of papier-mache. But for all its dreamy unreality, it’s a realm portrayed with the clarity of a photograph. Both musically and lyrically, the mood and imagery is as crystalline and lucid as the syllables that bounce from Adam Young’s tongue.
“When the engines cough, and you blast off...”
All Things Bright and Beautiful in particular is also an ode to space and spaceflight, although you still see a fascination with space imagery in later albums too. Track 7 is an overt homage to the 1986 Challenger disaster, but space, motion, and celestial objects permeate the whole album. Everywhere, rockets are coming to life and blasting off, stars are colliding, astronauts are seeing beautiful things, comets are coming down, galaxies are crossing, solar flares light up the nights, stars are singing so pretty to Mercury, and angels are all around.
My Overall rating of the CD - 4 & 1/2 stars.
Some songs move away from the previous sound of bassy electric melodies that were on Ocean Eyes and Maybe I'm dreaming, but not all of them. The CD is definitely enjoyable.
1. The Real World - 5 stars! I love this song! Classic Owl City!
2. Deer In the Headlights 5 Stars! Another classic!
3. Angels 4 & 1/2 stars. Good song, enjoy the lyrics, just a pinch from being 5 stars
4. Dreams Don't Turn To Dust 5 Stars!
5. Honey and the Bee FIVE STARS! This song is golden in my opinion. Great lyrics, great female vocals like in previous albums, catchy, relaxing, I just love it!
6. Kamikaze 2 & 1/2 Stars This song falls short of owl city quality. It gears a little off in an odd direction for my taste in owl city music.
7. January 28, 1986 - 4 & 1/2 stars. I actually enjoy this. It's touching.
8. Galaxies 4 & 1/2 stars - a pinch from being 5 in my opinion
9. Hospital Flowers - 4 & 1/2 stars
10. Alligator Sky (feat. Shawn Chrystopher) 1 star - This song is like throwing a Britney Spears song on a Garth Brooks album to me. Completely ruins the mood of the CD and forces me to burn a copy of the CD without it.
11. The Yacht Club - 5 stars - This is another fun Owl city song! Rather classic!
12. Plant Life - 4 & 1/2 stars - I actually really enjoy parts of this song, I fear it may not have fully grown on my quite yet. But a great song!
13. Alligator sky (Non rap version) - 5 stars - Classic Owl City! I wish it were the "album version" not just an extra.
Hope this helps!
This aside, I want to call out the song Alligator Sky. Both the rap and no rap versions are on the MP3 album, and both are fantastic while being quite different songs. The Rap version is a complete shock. Would anyone guess that Adam Young could put together a credible rap song? But oh My God he does and it is so surprisingly good. Adam manages to combine an orchestral beat with an electronica melody and his own typical whimsical verse. He then hands off the rap sections to a credible rapper. In what was probably a smart marketing decision, the rapper was allowed to completely modify his verses. Like most rap, the verses are a bit silly, but I understand from a marketing point of view this gives the song street credibility.
So my question for Adam's management is why wasn't this song marketed to black audiences? Why wasn't this a top 10 song in Adam's traditional market, and why wasn't this a top 100 rap song in the traditional black rap market segment? It clearly had crossover potential and there is something just wrong here that this song was only in the top 125 songs. I don't think the video helped this song any. It was a bit bizarre, and you aren't going to win any fans in the rap world by dressing a street rapper in a spacesuit and having him walk around an empty city. :)
The non-rap version of Alligator Sky includes Adam's original lyrics in place of the rapper segments, which creates quite a different song. It's also a great song, although it is clearly focused on Adam's primary market.
The Alligator Sky rap success is so amazing that I seriously wonder if Adam shouldn't put out a rap-only album with collaborations from different rappers. There is really something special waiting to happen here with the right crossover marketing.
Adam, you are the real deal. Dream big!