Review Summary: The machine will swallow you whole, kid.
You’ll ruin dinner with too many spices, mix too many colors you’ll end up with gray, and if you cram 12 different writers and producers onto one album you’ll suffocate the artist who’s name is adorning the cover. Shame is, Greyson Chance deserved better. At 14 he possessed the most uncannily developed voice since Alex Chilton hit number one at 16 and unlike other YouTube famous artists who have already felt the full brunt of my wrath, Greyson’s star making cover of “Paparazzi” is spectacular. On stage at his 6th grade talent show Greyson crushes the songs demanding range while flipping the middle finger to whoever’s kid is following him. His thick croon belongs in the throat of someone 10 years his senior and here it is coming from someone over half a decade away from the legal drinking age.
A few weeks after hitting the Internet it found its way into the hands of one Ellen DeGeneres who brought him onto her show. After appearing on Ellen the contract offers poured in so the Chance family regrouped and contemplated their next move. After some deliberation they announced that Greyson Chance would be the first artist on Ellen DeGeneres’ newly formed Interscope imprint ellevenelleven.
This was a huge mistake.
Signing to someone’s vanity label almost immediately relegates you to weed roller status, just ask the myriad of G.O.O.D. Music/MMG/Young Money artists patiently awaiting their album release dates, but to sign to the brand new vanity label of a talk show host
? You’ve now limited your fan base to bored soccer moms and channel surfers while simultaneously scuttling any chance of your record being properly promoted. It’s amazing to me Greyson got an album onto store shelves at all. What’s not amazing and all too foreseeable is that album is so bland it makes The Fray look like At the Drive-In.
A phalanx of songwriters descended upon poor Greyson, who got consolation credits on every track, and saddled him with an exhaustingly vanilla run of songs. Lead single “Waiting Outside the Lines” was written by an algorithm designed to produce music for elevators, “Unfriend You” manages to overcome its Facebook-offical chorus to become the album highlight thanks to the only hook that sticks. On "Heart Like Stone" those professional songwriters show an utter disregard for Greyson’s age, it might be about Greyson sleeping with groupies while pretending they’re his ex (“Late at night when I’m dancing with other girls/I pretend its you”). The sound of the album is schizophrenic, flitting from swinging pop (“Little London Girl”) to victory lap arena rock (“Take a Look at Me Now”) with little regard to what would actually work with the kid at the center of it all.
The album’s only saving grace comes in the form of Greyson’s voice. Muscular and dramatic, his fluttery falsetto runs could silence arenas. Even though Ellen boogied away any chance of this album being a hit (It, and all its singles, bombed on the charts) Greyson still has that voice and is, after all, only 15 years old. His latest release, Truth Be Told, is a small step in the right direction featuring sparser arrangements that put the emphasis on his voice. He has plenty of time and attention to develop his own artistic voice but before he can he must escape the clutches of eleveneleven records. Someone should introduce him to Big Star; he could learn a thing or two.