Singles Market: Bishop Briggs’ ‘River’



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. Beliveau has performed and recorded with such artists as Chris Cornell, Jet, The Veils, Natasha Bedingfield, Linda Perry, Courtney Love, and Christina Aguilara, and is currently scoring for film and TV. 

Simple. Space. Repetition. Straight to the point. This is what comes to mind when I hear the single ‘River’ by artist Bishop Briggs. It’s not a song that goes into my iTunes after hearing it even for the third time. But there’s a lot to appreciate about this cut.

First of all, I always love when an artist starts a song with its chorus. When it’s actually possible to do so, opening with the chorus can be really effective in making the listener feel like they’ve heard the song before—even when they haven’t—especially when the chorus hits big the second time around.

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to make a comparison. And it’s only because using the ‘chorus at the beginning’ tactic isn’t the only thing that makes me feel like this song is familiar. ‘River’ has much of the same vibe, sound, feel, and sonic characteristics as Awolnations hit single, ‘Sail’. Only, instead of hearing the typical male voice, we’re hearing the badass vocals of the only female currently in the top 10 Alternative Charts.

I’m not going to take any stabs at the record industry today (I woke up and it was cloudy and cool in Los Angeles, which actually makes me happy). But it’s interesting to consider why the Alternative Charts are so heavily dominated by male artists. Is it because there are less women who find it appealing to tackle the genre? Is it because the alternative rock audience prefers to hear male vocals? If I were to guess, I’d say that it’s more about the lack of women who choose to dive into this genre. And in Bishop Briggs’ case, I don’t believe she knowingly chose it for her current single. This is rarely, if ever, the artist’s choice. But it is the choice of the artist to decide their aesthetic and potential target audience.

‘River’ uses the stomp-and-clap approach to penetrate the masses and makes the assumption that people are getting dumber and dumber. This song doesn’t need that. It’s got a great hook, and Bishop’s vocals are effective, straight, and free from the ‘American Idol’ syndrome, which we all know and hate so much.  It’s the lack of vocal acrobatics, use of space, grit, simplicity in melody, and that familiar bluesy feel that people love and that makes this song a hit.

‘River’ isn’t a favorite of mine. It doesn’t pass the-morning-after-test.  But it’s really nice to see a girl kicking ass in the rock world. I’ll be interested to see what happens next for Bishop Briggs.


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