Australian Idol Smashes Pop Stereotypes
Those leery and weary of the idol phenomenon belting out songs with high-pitched tones in their diva-like stances need not shudder at the sound and sight of this new Australian idol who has more than charm and looks under his belt.
When he bested all hopefuls with his big hair, hazel eyes, and tender but powerful voice, Guy Sebastian had yet more talent to reveal. That's why he came up with his very own brainchild to mark his entry into the music biz as the newest singing sensation.
Just as I Am is a wonderful collection of songs that beat most 'idol' babies' productions that include only a few original songs and mostly borrow or remake old takes. The album deviates too from the practice of some artists of sticking to one genre and sound he or she became known for. Guy Sebastian explored with confidence his musical niche by singing and even co-writing to the tracks that go beyond R&B and slow jams.
Unlike most 'idol' babies who sing to the emotions of love and relationships, Just As I am goes a little farther as Guy speaks not only of love or heartbreaks, but also of failures, friendships, and adoration to obviously one of his favorite artists The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.
Before skeptics start throwing stereotypes like saying he's an artist who hardly struggled, or was born with a golden voice, consider his story. He had his shares of criticism, mockery and disbelief in his talent. He explains:
"I remember in school I sang this really high note and people were laughing because I sounded like a girl! I reckon in my whole school I was the only freak who listened to Prince! I can't stand to be laughed at by my school friends. I hope they sort of get it now!"
Now, after all the struggling, losing, and winning, Guy Sebastian just leaves Just As I am to prove his gift of singing. Though the admiration may not be unanimous, the styles he kicked off are nowadays atypical.
Just As I am, composed of 12 tracks, is a perfect sampler of a style that needs not the standoffish, 'cool', snobbish appeal to reach out to music lovers. Its sweet, naïve, rhymes and respectful lyrics blended perfectly with the artist's rich voice.
The album opens with 'Angels Brought Me here', a very inspirational song that reminds Guy of his winning moment. "I reckon it really sums up just what I felt as far as the competition goes. It's a very overwhelming process to go through and you really do feel that there's something else that got you there. Especially with how I didn't feel confident before and then something just clicked and I could look people in the eyes and really try and deliver a song. It's a great, inspirational song that sums up how any of the winners would have felt", said Guy.
It is followed by So I, the R&B track in the album. It has a bit fast beat and a dancing feel to it. 'Can You Stand The Rain' follows. This New Edition original is given justice in Sebastian's modern upbeat version. A slow Jam backed by guitar and clear of fake synthesizers is what 'No One Can Compare To You' is. In his high-pitched voice, the song reminds listeners of Prince in its old school melody. This love song is a dedication to that one person who stands up above the rest, Guy sings "friends and lovers come and go, but no one can compare to you, that's why I stand by your side".
'All I Need Is You' is a happy song that marks a shift in priorities, for it tells that when you meet someone so important, everything changes, career comes next to that special someone. Guy admits he was in a relationship at the time he wrote this song. A Loius Armstrong original, 'What A Wonderful World' is arranged by Sebastian himself. His own version spells an R&B style for this old song with choral background.
Friendship is one thing he doesn't want to leave out. While lavishing on his success, he pays tribute to it in 'My Beautiful Friend'. The song speaks of the value of friendship both in success and in failure. 'My Beautiful Friend' touches the core of human struggle and the healing power of friendship. Guy reveals he made someone cry with this song:
"I remember singing this song at 4 in the morning. Adam (Reilly, producer) will kill me for saying this, but I was in the studio and I'm singing and just feeling it and I started crying and I walked into the room and Adam's sitting there and he's crying too."
As much as there are happy times, this idol is no loneliness-proof. In his sad song 'Something Don't Feel Right', he questions trust and fidelity as he reminisces his lowest times. Co-written by him, this soulful song envelopes sadness in ear-pleasing melody. A fast song follows in 'When Doves Cry'. The song is welcomed by guitar strings before hitting the percussion. Guys considers this as a tribute to Prince. The sultry 'Just As I Am' is a bit melodramatic, but it wraps him up as person. "It's just a great track that just says all I can give is myself," says Guy.
In an acoustic type melody, '3 Words' stresses love without saying I Love You, while 'I 4 u' bring listeners to the mood of dancing.
Guy Sebastian disproves that talent and provocation has to go together. Hearing an artist that is more than the bling-bling type, Guy Sebastian is one musical icon devoid of raunchiness and explicit vibes, and he doesn't need those to go far.
-Ma. Rowena Alera