Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Chris Brown – Changed Man

The comeback starts here, I guess…


Kat Stevens: Some people do deserve a second chance. But just because now they are now counting to ten under their breath and punching the kitchen wall instead doesn’t mean I have to listen to their whining excuse for an apology.

Edward Okulicz: An apology is necessary when wrong is done that cannot be amended, but that doesn’t make it sufficient. This is a hollow gesture as an apology and a complete misstep as a song that doesn’t even work if you try to work a more universal meaning into it. But even if it were possible to redeem yourself just by singing a song (it’s not), singing it in the same lobotomised and vocally-treated haze he used on “Forever” would ensure it falls a long way short. And the lyrics: “They can never understand”. Dude, you assaulted your girlfriend. There’s nothing to understand, you’re a fuckwit, and this is a neon sign on your back reminding us.

Alex Ostroff: This is nauseating on the conceptual level alone, so I’m oddly pleased that “Changed Man” is criminally boring. If it had been even an eighth as good as “Forever”, I might have felt the need to listen to the song more than twice.

Erika Villani: People in movies and music are always doing things that would make them seem creepy and abusive in real life — he stands outside your window playing Peter Gabriel on a boom box, she flies to Seattle because she heard your sad story on the radio, he begs you to take him back because he’s changed, he’s better, he’s gonna make it up to you. And because it’s a script, because it’s a song, you think, well, gosh, isn’t it romantic? Except this time you’ve seen pictures of the bruises on his girlfriend’s face, and you know the thing he’s apologizing for might be hitting her so hard her mouth filled with blood, and that kind of breaks the spell. The problem with this song isn’t that the lyrics are creepy, or that the relationship it describes is questionable. The problem with this song is that it’s plodding and ordinary, when, if I’m ever going to give a shit about Chris Brown again, it needs to be anything but.

Anthony Easton: I still listen to Ike Turner, though he beat the shit out of Tina. But Ike Turner is a genius, and he did not seek forgiveness and redemption via middling pop ballads, with self pity and no self loathing.

Chuck Eddy: What a smarmy fuck. This is a half-assed apology if one ever existed, not remotely credible, and his falsetto’s nothing to write home about, either. But on my shelves I have albums I love by Spade Cooley and Noir Desir and Phil Spector — none of whom, as far as I know, ever made an asinine record like this where they begged us to feel sorry for the way they abused women, but I still want to be objective here. So I have to admit, the Everybody Hates Chris line is a decent hook. And it caught me off guard the first time, seeing how we’ve been Netflixing Season Two this month. Some episodes are better than others. But they’re all better than this.

Anthony Miccio: As a somewhat ironic fan of “Heaven, I Need A Hug” and Chris Brown’s incoherent lyrical froth (highlight: earnestly wedging a Doublemint ad into the contradiction “we’ve only got one night to dance forever”), I couldn’t give this an instant zero on principle. But compared to Kelly’s sniveling epic this is thin and grooveless. Auto-tuned saccharine and Chrisisms like “my patience is driving me crazy” don’t keep “I don’t wanna be done” from sounding like “I don’t wanna beat down,” and “it ain’t over” comes off like a threat.

Hillary Brown: Ugh. The thing is, it’s a very, very effective song, full of exactly the kind of sweet nothings and pretty up and downs with which Chris Brown won your heart in the first place. You want to believe it, with its pretty vocals, stuttering and breathy thumps, and its background guitar plucks. If only it were in Swedish, and we didn’t have all this messy context. How can you condone the “I’m sorry I hit you song” that will soundtrack thousands of misguided reconciliations? I’m pretending I just emerged from a Rip van Winkle-esque sleep, in which case I see this as a fiction and acknowledge its supreme prettiness.

John Seroff: I’ll admit it; I’m rooting for Chris Brown. Not as a human being of course; by all accounts he appears to be something of a bust in that department thus far. No, I’m hoping Chris pulls out of his current public relation death spiral to recover his POP SENSATION status as the crowned jester of R&B; seems it wasn’t that long ago that Brown’s goofy physical and vocal mugging had him pegged as an nonthreatening and affable doofus. His fair-to-middling voice somehow consistently and perfectly alloys with contemporary overproduction in a way that better singers would envy, yielding odd, tremulous timbre and nonsensically beautiful playground raps like “Gimme That”, “Kiss Kiss”, “Freeze”, “Shawty Get Loose” and “Get Like Me”. That was then, this is now. Chris Brown’s decision to release a song that might as well have been court appointed is offensive on a lot of levels; one that will be less debated is the foolish missed opportunity of releasing this slightly warmed over Bad Boy Gone Good whinefest instead of a legitimate and sorely needed Summer dance hit. Instead, we get Brown without a solid hook and at his least appetizing: wounded, apologetic, but still snotty enough to break out “Everybody Hates Chris” lines less than a year after photos of his brutally beaten girlfriend appeared on the front page of every major tabloid in the country. There’s still a few bits of panache on Brown’s part; some well-placed falsetto, some nice delivery. None of it adds up to make this more than moderately listenable. In cultural context, “Changed Man” is appalling; out of it, it’s somewhat better than mediocre. My score reflects the latter perspective; factor in the former and it’s more like a 1.

Michaelangelo Matos: “My patience is driving me crazy” is almost too easy an opening, “And everybody hates Chris” an acknowledgment that’s neither welcome nor gratuitous, “Saying sorry doesn’t make it right” a home truth, “It ain’t over” repeated on end not remotely convincing. Graded harshly because he deserves it.

Dave Moore: No, fuck you, sympathy denied. “My patience is driving me crazy”? “I’m gonna make it up to you and show the world I’m a changed man”? Really, you’re gonna make it up to her? Well, you’ve already decided not to stay away from her before you hurt her again (“this ain’t over; it ain’t over”). So what, you’re going to go into therapy and go on television and do prominent spots on domestic abuse for the rest of your life to set an example for all those kids in your fanbase trying to figure out “what she did” to make you lose that “patience” of yours? Dude either has the biggest stones of all time or zero sense of self-awareness, not that the two are mutually exclusive — and not that it makes a difference either way. FUCK YOU, CHRIS BROWN. If it were physically possible, I would deduct an extra point for the “Everybody Hates Chris” joke.

Martin Kavka: Is this genuine Chris, or is he doing this against his will? One hint comes in the lyric “I believe we can make it if we try.” If WE try? For fuck’s sake, what does she need to try to do?

Andrew Brennan: I suppose if he hadn’t released an apology song I’d still be angry, but the man violently beat his girlfriend. There shouldn’t be any more singles.

Chris Boeckmann: Ryan Tedder’s only beat should file a restraining order against Chris Brown. And, perhaps even more disturbing, the melody of “Boyfriend #2” should, too.

Alfred Soto: He’s so changed that he hides his sincerity really well behind the Auto-Tune.

Al Shipley: My score is more symbolic than a reflection of the music, but don’t get me wrong: the song does suck.

15 Responses to “Chris Brown – Changed Man”

  1. Well played Jukebox. I turned it off as unblurbable pretty much at “I remember your touch”: I’m sure she remembers Chris’ ‘touch’ too.

    The think that rankles most, I think, is that saying immediately afterwards that “I’ve changed” is – as I understand it – domestic abuser speak 101. There isn’t a lyric Brown and/or his handlers could come up with to ‘explain’ the situation but “Changed Man” less than a year after is really terrible. He shouldn’t get to decide if he’s changed. I’d like to say he “doesn’t get to” but honestly I fear this ploy might well work.

    Anyway I’m now saying what everyone else has.

  2. “Well played” as in “good range of well-articulated opinion”, not as in “villagers! let us destroy the monster Chris Brown!” though I’ve no complaints about the aggregate here.

  3. I’m not sure how I missed listening to or reviewing this, but since I had no idea of the context, I’m kind of glad I did.

  4. I agree with Alex – glad it was a rubbish enough song that there was no moral quandary re: ‘if I say I like this apologetic song then am I accepting his apology?’ Phew.

  5. Self-righteousness is definitely easier in the face of shitty music, but it can still win out (I’d be prepared to give a good-sounding song that I found abhorrent a “0,” though I can’t think of any examples of this ever happening off the top of my head, really…)

  6. From _Rolling Stone_’s “Rock & Roll Daily” column, Aug. 14:

    A new Chris Brown recording called “Changed Man” that features lyrics that could be interpreted as an apology of sorts to Rihanna leaked today. But Brown’s reps told MTV that the track isn’t the first single off Brown’s forthcoming LP Graffiti, but an old tune. A handful of new Brown songs have leaked over the past few months; however, Jive Records insists that no Graffiti-bound tracks have emerged as yet.


    While the lyrics do seem like an apology to Rihanna, as the blog Toya’s World points out, the backing track of “Changed Man” is exactly the same as Danity Kane member Dawn Richard’s “Falls Away,” a song that actually predates the Chris Brown/Rihanna incident. One of two situations are at play here: Either “Changed Man” is Brown’s own demo version of the track and the lyrics are coincidental, or Brown used Richard’s song as the backing track for his apology to Rihanna. Either way, it’s safe to assume “Changed Man” won’t be appearing on Graffiti as rumored.

  7. If that’s accurate it’s the SECOND time something “leaked from earlier sources” that could be interpreted as a Rihanna apology:

    Not to be cynical, but both of these certainly seem like his team testing the waters.

  8. Apropos of nothing: Cry No More is a much better track.

  9. Second the 0s. As a song it’s boring, as an apology it’s TERRIBLE. The self-pity of the “everybody hates Chris” joke was the last anger straw for me. Too soon, too feeble.

    (I’m not pretending I’m going to hold Brown being awful against him forever. I did like his songs before The Unpleasantness, I did smile at the “Forever” wedding video, I did jam “Turntables” when Fantasy Ride came out even though I was annoyed that Ciara was being made the vehicle to test his comeback. But…I haven’t been able to play any of his songs or hear his voice apart from that yet, and I’m not greatly concerned as to when I’ll be able to listen to them and ignore his actions.)

  10. what a shame. i still quite enjoy ‘Forever’ tho.

  11. Not knowing a thing about Brown’s private life doesn’t make this song any more interesting.

  12. Once an abuser, always an abuser. It’s real easy to say you’re sorry, it’s much harder to mean it. You disgust me Chris Brown and I will never buy or listen to any of your music. Men who beat on women are selfish little cowards!

  13. Like Tom, all I had to add was another 0 and some invective, so I didn’t bother. I wasn’t really worried the rest of the Jukebox would let me down, but I’m pleased to see they haven’t.

  14. I spent 168 words trying to say what Al Shipley said in 20. Nice job, dude.

  15. […] only respectful way they can think of to describe her is “Sexy Bitch”? Damn, girl. Chris Brown – Changed Man [1] Livvi Franc – Now I’m That Bitch (feat. Pitbull) [4] Heartland – Mustache [6] […]