Singles Market: Kaleo’s Hit Single ‘Way Down We Go’

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Antonio Beliveau is a singer/songwriter and rock pianist. Known mostly from his band, Crash Kings, their single, ‘Mountain Man’ peaked the Alternative Billboard charts in March of 2010.  He has performed and recorded with such artists as Chris Cornell, Jet, The Veils, Natasha Bedingfield, Linda Perry, and Christina Aguilara, and is currenlty scoring for film and TV. 

This week, Kaleo’s single, ‘Way Down We Go’, tops the Alternative Billboard charts at #1.  It’s a very vib-ey track with plenty of emotion, yet there is something about the song that lacks authenticity and originality. As a pianist, of course my ears perked up to hear a haunting piano sound at the top. But when the vocals come in, it’s definitely a voice we’ve all heard before. Reminiscent of Hoizer (and certainly riding the coat tails of the success of ‘Take Me To Church’), vocalist Jökull Júlíusson sings with that deep voice that shakes with so much vibrato you’d think he was permanently frightened of something. It’s that oh-so-successful white-man-doing-his-best-to-sound-like-a-struggling-slave-in-the-cotton-fields sound that seems to be keeping the lights on in the rock department of the major labels.  Oh, and go figure, Kaleo is from…Iceland? I get it. Zeppelin did it, the Stones did it… I mean, the Black Keys tricked everyone into believing they are actually a band consisting of good musicians. Everyone has their thing.

Apparently the guys in Kaleo use some rare instrument that most people haven’t seen or heard of. Take it from me, no one gives a fuck about that.

It’s a good song. Doesn’t get stuck in my head. Doesn’t do it for me. But I get it. I’m sure the guys are talented. I haven’t heard any of their other music, so I am approaching this purely from the standpoint of their single on it’s own. I’m sure it’s possible that there are other great songs on their album, and that this single may not even represent what the rest of their record sounds like. But I still get into a band or an artist from their single — actually, these says, in this singles market, we all do. If the song doesn’t grab me, or I don’t like the singer’s voice, or the music is just, well, bad, then that’s it for me. And anyone who knows me, knows I don’t like much new music.

At the end of the day, it’s tough to know exactly why a song really gets that #1 spot on the charts (unless, of course, you’re RHCP, which I’ll get to in my next article — yeah I bet you can’t wait to hear what I think about that single…) Having had a #1 single on the Alternative Charts, I can tell you straight up that it wasn’t solely because I wrote a good song. We had the machine. And Kaleo has it as well (they signed to Atlantic Records in early 2015).

‘Way Down We Go’ is engineered beautifully and sonically sounds gorgeous. But as a song it doesn’t do much for me. The chord progression is boring. The guitar solo doesn’t go anywhere. I don’t feel like the song lifts me up the way it could towards the end (there’s a great snare hit that suggests we’re going to go there, but we don’t). The melody is mediocre, and ultimately, I just don’t believe the singer. Lyrically, nothing grabbed me.

Will it stand the test of time? What does these days?

On the flip side, I will say is that even though this song doesn’t do much for me, I do appreciate what sounds like an actual performance, regardless of how cut up the track might be. I like that they went organic and not too synth heavy or electronic. That’s a relief. It’s a hell of a song for placement, and while it has been featured in Orange Is The New Black, as well as in other shows and films, I do feel like it has plenty more legs to get placed in more TV and Film.

It’s not a bad song.  It’s just not a great one either.

Watch the official ‘Way Down We Go’ video here.

Feature image source: http://www.lyricsgaga.com/kaleo/way-go-kaleo/

1 COMMENT

  1. Tony’s writing now. Nice.

    I actually find the song interesting on the surface but would get bored with it by the 3rd listen. I can understand why it would be a great song for TV/movie fill because it has a moodiness but isn’t overpowering. I was just listening to Ted Nugent’s Stranglehold on the way into work this morning. Now that’s a song to get lost in.

    BTW Might want to fix that typo in the 3rd paragraph 7th sentence. 🙂

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