Belinda Carlisle’s “Sun” radiates in all its glory
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In our article about “The rampant trend of ageism in the music industry“, we made a reference to a comment by Tears for Fears band-member Curt Smith. He mentioned that “making another record is a money-losing proposition”. He was not simply making a reference to Tears For Fears. He was referring to ALL bands and artists from yesteryear that take a hiatus. It seems almost unfair that new and great material by older artists is always ignored. Yet, some of them continue to dig deeper into a creative well that mainstream media claims is dry without even giving these artists a real shot. Some of these artists have released their best material in decades within the last two years. The latest to join the ranks of this esteemed group of artists is the strikingly attractive and incredibly talented Belinda Carlisle.
Belinda Carlisle belonged to a class of female solo acts that distinguished themselves from the rest through their unique vocal style, striking image, and melody-driven tunes that just might never leave the radio airwaves. Many of these solo acts also suffered a tough transition into the 90s. Belinda was no exception. It appeared that the mainstream had no room for anything besides grunge, britpop, and hip-hop/R&B – thus making it very hard for artists that worked in the spectrum of conventional pop. Fortunately, the internet has broken the walls that mainstream media erected back in the 90s for many of these artists. These broken walls have allowed some of these artists to do what they do best and remind us of why we fell in love with them to begin with. “Sun” is hands down Belinda’s best single in over two decades.
The “secret sauce” of standing out from the clutter (especially for someone that is considered a star of yesteryear) is to hold on tightly to the defining elements of your musical legacy while giving your new music a treatment that allows it to blend in with the music of today without it getting lost. Belinda has found her secret sauce with the addictively upbeat “Sun”. The song opens with a beautiful piano intro (almost making one believe that Belinda is moving into balladeer territory) and quickly breaks into pounding electronic beats with a repeating synthesizer refrain. The production is noteworthy as it builds incrementally with each section of the song. On the verses, it is not glossy and hence does not drown out Belinda’s trademark vocals. In fact, the inherent vocal sexiness she showcases is quite reminiscent of the way she sounded on her hit single “Circle In The Sand” (a song that continues to induce weak moments). The line that truly epitomizes that style is the one where she sings “We are stardust”. The layered production is bumped up a tiny bit on the harmony-driven pre-chorus and is followed quickly by an overlay of a light layer of rock to give the soaring chorus a punchy sound. The sing-out-loud chorus might just stay stuck in the heads of listeners even though the real magic of the song is on its verses.
I have to admit when I first heard a 10-second snippet of the song, I was afraid Belinda was trying to step into “modern rock-chick Kim Wilde” territory and not do it as well as Kim. Fortunately, Belinda unapologetically re-embraces her pop roots and celebrates it for all it is worth on “Sun”. I had a massive crush on Belinda Carlisle when I was in the 7th grade. It didn’t matter to me that she was 20 years older to me. “Sun” reminds me exactly why. My only hope is that Belinda released a new “back to roots” pop album and reclaims her place in the world of pop music.
STAR RATING: 4/5 Stars
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