Staff Pick: Don’t Look Down by Skylar Grey

Photo by Caleb Hsu

Photo by Caleb Hsu

By Alyssa McCord

I first heard Skylar Grey perform while watching the 2011 GRAMMY Awards as she quickly captivated audiences across the country with her powerful performance of “I Need A Doctor” with none other than hip hop geniuses Dr. Dre and Eminem. After quickly doing a Google search to find out who she was, not only was I surprised to find out that such a relatively unknown singer was featured on such a massive track, but I was excited to find out that Skylar had written one of the biggest hits of 2010, “Love The Way You Lie,” featuring Eminem and Rihanna. Fast forward to 2013 and I, yet again, found myself listening to whatever music from Skylar I could find on Spotify, including “Final Warning” from her debut solo album Don’t Look Down, the track she says was the first song she wrote for the album and the first song in which she’s been able to achieve exactly the sound she wanted – a fierce blend between alternative and hip hop. By listening to Don’t Look Down and looking at Skylar Grey’s impressive track record of penning hits for some of today’s most well known artists, it’s no surprise that her music is finally getting the attention it deserves.

After chatting with Skylar and checking out her show at Brighton Music Hall on July 12th, it’s safe to say that we’re witnessing the beginning of what is sure to be the very successful career of a true artist. While many avid music lovers prove to be rather skeptical of the artistry behind radio-friendly music, Skylar has triumphantly broken the barriers that have often infamously kept artistry and mainstream music from colliding. Skylar stated, “I write a lot about my past. A lot of my songs go back to my childhood and I’m able to analyze what I went through, because in hindsight everything is way more clear,” and mentioned how she prefers to write her music while alone in a cabin in the woods. She’s one of the few artists we’ve seen live this year that has possessed a style and sound that is truly her own.

Photo by Caleb Hsu

Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of Skylar as an artist, and as one of the few voices that can really connect to our generation, has been her journey. Through a self-proclaimed transformation, a singer/songwriter who was once known as Holly Brook became Skylar Grey after finding herself in hard times, resulting in the decision to move into that aforementioned cabin alone in the woods. Skylar, who proclaimed “I wanted to feel strong,” taught herself survival skills and ultimately realized she was capable of more than she originally thought. She went on to explain, “It was a soul-searching journey. Near the end of the trip I went on to write a song called ‘Love The Way You Lie,’ which got picked up by Eminem and Rihanna, and that proved to myself that I made the right decision.” Even just based solely on the success of that song, we’d say she made the right decision too. Nevertheless, even with the massive success Eminem and Rihanna reaped from the hit song, Skylar let us know that she’s nothing but grateful for the success and opportunity that has come along with the experience of having her song picked up by such largely famous performers, clearly speaking greatly to her character as a musician and further proving her genuine artistry and love for what she does.

While we all love a good transformation story, Skylar Grey’s transformation didn’t just affect her name – it has been one that has helped her create Don’t Look Down, an album with depth, rawness, and unapologetic honesty with thirteen songs that nearly anyone can connect to personally. “White Suburban” portrays that unrequited love that you can never escape when moving on from your first love, which sent the crowd at Brighton Music Hall into a mesmerized silence from Skylar’s stunning performance — not an easy feat. “Religion,” “Glow In The Dark,” and “Tower (Don’t Look Down)” are all songs destined to give hope to listeners going through transformations and tough times of their own, while “C’Mon Let Me Ride,” the addicting in-your-face tune featuring her mentor, Eminem, is sure to send anyone listening into a dancing frenzy, just as it did with the packed crowd at Skylar’s Boston show. Skylar Grey has managed to create an album and a tour that provides hope, energy, reassurance, and connection to anyone who listens.

As shown by the incredibly enthusiastic crowd at the double-encore show here in Boston, followed by proof of their loyalty with nearly the entire crowd staying after the show just to get a picture with her, Skylar Grey’s new album is something that listeners can hold close to their hearts in their weakest moments and then blast loud and celebrate in the strongest. Complete with addicting beats and punchy yet relatable lyrics, along with a tour that embodies Skylar’s one-of-a-kind charismatic strength and energy, she’s not only an artist to watch, but she’s an artist we promise you’ll want to get to know. We can’t wait to see what’s next from her, but in the meantime, give a listen to our official “Staff Pick” of the month, Skylar Grey’s debut solo album Don’t Look Down, and check out her tour dates to see her live in a city near you.

Want more Skylar? We thought so!
PHOTOS: Skylar Grey @ Brighton Music Hall
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