by Dom Jones
After being at Berklee for a while, it’s easy to become jaded. All of the dramatic over-riffing and overly produced tracks to cover up the emptiest songwriting ever can just make you never want to click another one of your classmate’s Soundcloud links ever again! That’s kind of how I started out this semester. I was over it. And not surprisingly, it was one of my songwriting classes (again) that exposed me to an artist that I probably would not have come across otherwise and who, frankly, blew my mind. If you know me, you know that I have a reputation for being unimpressed with a lot of music. I’m not sure why having high standards for the music we create at one of the most prestigious institutions is looked upon with disdain, but I’m going to keep the standards that I have for myself and for my peers. Yes, we’re here to learn and to grow as artists, but we were also all chosen because we’re supposed to be the best of the best that the world (THE WORLD) has to offer. If I see a classmate operating beneath their potential, I’m going to be disappointed, and yes, I’m going to be unimpressed. We should be pushing each other, and I guess, that’s why I entered this semester feeling so “blah.” I haven’t felt challenged by other songwriters. And then I walked into Lyric Writing 2, and my professor pressed play on Chloe Jane.
“People Like You” isn’t even in my genre, yet I still was like WHOA… she’s coming for me with this song. The guitar riff at the beginning already has you ready to jam, but once she starts singing, her melodic choices are complete ear candy. The transition into the hook is insane, and it’s the transitions that will keep you locked into this tune. Each section is a pleasant and unexpected melodic surprise. If that weren’t enough, Chloe takes what could easily be a tragically clichè song about a person in a toxic relationship with a person they keep going back to, and makes it feel like something you’ve never heard before. Lines like, “I’m so damn brokenhearted” and “You like me better when I’m down” are upheld by remarkable phrasing and the lines around them like “You’ve got the power, wear the crown” that bring more imagery to the age old story of unhealthy relationships. When I first heard the song in class, my feedback was simply, “This is my new jam.” Not since Alanis Morrisette debuted (when I was a kid!) has an artist in this lane evoked such a guttural response from me. It’s a song, an anthem for women, a phase of love, heartache, and finally, freedom, that we’ve heard in other genres: in Mary J. Blige’s “Not Gon’ Cry,” in Niia’s “Sideline,” in Bonnie Raitt’s “Have a Heart,” or Vivan Green’s “Emotional Rollercoaster.”
Though I abhor this new idea that people “listen to music with their eyes first,” Chloe’s aesthetic does fit her sound like a glove. The dirty blonde bob with hints of hot pink is and the (sometimes oversized) rocker look is so her. In this age of visuals first, it will serve her well. Ultimately, hearing Chloe Jane reminded me that being challenged at Berklee shouldn’t be siloed to one’s genre or instrument, but that we should be looking for challenges and growth from all of the talented people that we inevitably interact with on a daily basis. Actually listen to that person’s arranging project who doesn’t make music that you usually jam out to. Collaborate with those who have a completely different sound that you do because, although some say there’s nothing new under the sun, these kinds of collaborations are what bring something new to the palette of listeners who are pummeled with whatever’s trendy for months and months on end. Your branching out doesn’t diminish your brand, it shows your versatility. I heard Chloe Jane in a class and thought, “Step it up, Dom,” which is a feeling I’m always chasing. When was the last time one of your classmates inspired you?
FOLLOW CHLOE JANE ON SOUNDCLOUD AND LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OF
“PEOPLE LIKE YOU” IN THE COMMENTS!