Pleasant surprises at a time underscored by anxiety, uncertainty, social isolation (for many), claustrophobia (due to stay-at-home orders to varying degrees across the world), and economic hardship have the ability to be even more uplifting than they would be during periods of normalcy. It is fair to say the present is far from normal as the Covid19 virus has ravaged economies across the globe and sent thousands of lives into a tailspin. Difficult economic times do not lend themselves to brands and artists engaging with their audiences. In fact, the overtures of brands and artists towards their audiences can seem misplaced and out of sync in the context of the current reality. That being said, hiding from audiences can lead to a missed opportunity. There is a flavor of outreach that does not have to be distasteful, that brims with empathy, and that can provide an escapism for audiences at a time when they need this the most. Many artists and bands have postponed album releases in the wake of the new normal. Some such as Dua Lipa and The Weeknd have gone ahead and released new albums as per their original schedule while acts such as The 1975, Jessie Ware, and Johnny Hates Jazz are planning to release new material in the foreseeable future (although in the case of Johnny Hates Jazz, it is just a new single and not a whole album despite it being complete). While the albums by Dua Lipa and The Weeknd have their bright spots, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I heard what I believe is the first great pop single of 2020 (and hence also the first great pop single of the decade). What is particularly surprising is that comes from a DJ and electronic music producer associated predominantly with the deep house genre. In the past, I have been ruthlessly dismissive of the artists/DJs that define this genre because of its focus on production elements as opposed to conventional songwriting typically associated with great pop music. I first heard of Chris Malinchak when he did a remix of “Make my heart” by Toni Braxton a few years ago but never bothered following his musical trajectory after that. Hence, the fact that this new single comes from Chris Malinchak (an electronic music artist) has forced me re-evaluate the musical underpinnings of some of the celebrated figures in the deep house genre. His new single,“When the world stops turning” is 2020’s first ray of pop brilliance.
The dance music genre truly comes to life when blended with a soulful foundation and seasoned with a hint of melancholy to evoke emotion. We have seen this with Samantha James (a regular on our radio station playlists) but only rarely from other artists in the genre. Chris Malinchak has dug deep into that same sonic template and has unearthed something that balances ethereal beauty with a lightly pulsating beat. The song truly tugs at the heartstrings – especially on the chorus:
What do we do
When the world stops turning
I already knew
All the lessons I’m learning
Either love me or hate me
Please just give me something to feel alive
These lines hit at the heart of the debilitating sense of helplessness many of us feel as we navigate previously uncharted waters. More importantly, the feelings we’ve held on to prior to the onset of the Covid19 pandemic have only been amplified under these new circumstances. Apparently, Chris had written this song a while ago and only just chose to release it. It is unclear as to what context he was writing these lyrics for but to say they are prophetic would be quite the understatement. If Chris opts to record an acoustic version of this song, I am convinced that its embryonic beauty will hold up just fine.
I sincerely hope that Chris Malinchak explores the direction he has embarked on with this new single even further. More importantly, this song deserves far greater exposure and should be the benchmark against which pop music in 2020 is evaluated against. This cocktail of sophistication, escapism, depth, and soul is the sonic backdrop for the few precious moments of euphoria that us prisoners of circumstance experience as we dance in solitude while dreaming of better days ahead. Here is a full length audio clip of this sonic gem:
STAR RATING: 5 out of 5 stars
In case you did not pick up on this earlier, the blog you are reading is affiliated with Radio Creme Brulee – an online radio station that features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. Alongside newer artists, we also play plenty of newer music by bands that rose to prominence in the 80s and the 90s. Noteworthy examples include Simply Red, Wet Wet Wet, Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, Camouflage, Spandau Ballet, INXS, Depeche Mode, Suede, The Corrs, Jamiroquai,Johnny Hates Jazz, Simple Minds, and Culture Club.
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