Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Jon Bellion – All Time Low

Not even this year’s low, but there could always be a follow-up single…


Mo Kim: “You know what would be great?” asked a Capitol Records executive, as a table of interns shook their heads in horrified silence. “Adam Young on a twenty one pilots track.”

Katie Gill: One of my favorite vines is the girl forgetting that her keyboard is in sound effect mode. Now, go back and listen to that awful noise that literally sounds like someone vomiting that starts off the beginning of the “low low low low” chorus. With all that in mind, I’m kind of worried that Bellion took that vine as inspiration.

Katherine St Asaph: You’d think by now it would be standard, in the launching-a-popstar rulebook, not to commission any songs whose titles own themselves.

Iain Mew: It turns out that if Owl City had ditched the cloying innocence thing and swapped out hugs from fireflies in favour of singing about obsession and masturbation, it wouldn’t have helped.

Alfred Soto: A guy who gets off on the aftertaste of someone’s lips would treat an organ like Drake does women.

Will Adams: Your girl broke up with you so now you have to masturbate alone and all her friends are ignoring you? Damn, bro, shit’s tough.

Megan Harrington: Bellion has a Posnerian underdog appeal, but there’s no justifying that unsettling-verging-on-body-horror phlegmatic sample that coughs itself up and spits a loogie on the pretty enough melody. 

Scott Mildenhall: Better than his namesake Man Utd failure David? It’s a low bar. Better than The Wanted? Not a chance. There are a lot of odd choices in “All Time Low” that seem to be intended to suggest that it is habitually quirky. Sure, this song has gaps that go on for far longer than could be considered “glitchy”; it’s no big deal guys! If it ends up doing things like exposing muddled Outkast references then so be it. It’s just a shame that, the last minute of getting into its stride aside, nothing here is as entertainingly weird as the lyric “or I’m late for work, a vital presentation”.

Josh Winters: Like a lengthy, oversharing Facebook status update from that one asshole from high school you haven’t seen in years, this is worth putting out of sight (or hearing, in this case) and cutting any communication from the source altogether.

Will Rivitz: I’ve been a staunch defender of twenty one pilots’ artistic legitimacy for a good long while now, especially after a year which saw their staggering mainstream success and oodles of clueless quasi-thinkpieces from an increasingly insular music-crit literati who seem shocked that not everyone who listens to music is older than 25. Essentially, they act as a sort of Fisher-Price My First Misanthropy™ for mildly disaffected tweens, teens, and young adults, but for those people this is the first time they’ve heard anybody adequately articulate their stresses and fears and awkwardness and isolation in musical form. I understand what this means to them, since I had the exact same experience with (don’t laugh) Linkin Park when I was fourteen: this shit is bombastic, vague, and a little corny, but it’s got the perfect timbre and tone to resonate with scores of young folks who need the dreariness, terror, and ultimately hope that Tyler Joseph provides. Jon Bellion is, on the surface, aiming for the same aesthetic — sad music with goofy electronic flourishes and a rock groove — but his motions towards this style are at best an approximation. “All Time Low” is melancholy, but its melancholy is borne of comparatively trivial circumstances (post-relationship blues) compared to the all-encompassing, rotted-core tragedy of a twenty one pilots song. Tyler Joseph resonates because his perceived failures – feeling like an outcast, depression, fear of growing older – lie deep within him and are largely unchangeable; by contrast, a line like “I’ve been trying to fix my pride but that shit’s broken” implies that the pride existed once, that this “all time low” is temporary when all is said and done. Basically, what I’m getting at is that “All Time Low” is a cheap knockoff of what makes twenty one pilots so powerful, less “Ecce Homo” and more its Monkey Jesus restoration. At its core, it is vanilla. It is a thoroughly unexciting pop song with pleasant production and mopey lyrics. When its chief point of comparison is a band who have taken the world by storm by being definitively Not OK, a Just OK song like this is nothing short of blasphemy.

Hannah Jocelyn: It takes a lot of courage and confidence to reference “Captain Jack” (at least it’s 70s Billy Joel) and “The Boxer” (at least he’s not melodramatically covering “The Sound of Silence”) within 30 seconds of one another, then marrying that to a hyper-modern drop with just enough punch to be emotionally resonant. In fact, Jon Bellion and co’s production sounds almost self-satisfied, as if they knew that the “low-low-low” hook would fall into the shouldnt-work-but-does category, and they knew how fake-clever they were being with the “low” hook abruptly rising to a higher note, but did it anyway. Again, it mostly does work, aside from those cringey references, so they damn well should be self-satisfied. Respect!

Josh Langhoff: Jon Bellion is a dork but I’m here to defend him, because if music critics hated people for being dorks, we’d just go around hating ourselves all the time. (Oh wait.) On first hearing I dismissed Bellion’s album as Owl City rap. He called said album The Human Condition, btw, which is really making it hard for me to defend him because A Report on the Banality of Evil would have been so much cooler. But then the Top 40 DJ recommended it, claiming “Every song is good!”, which forced me to reconsider; after all, when was the last time you heard a Top 40 DJ acknowledge an album’s existence, let alone its quality? So, fine, now I think Bellion makes fun. rap with the Owl City kid’s diction. “All Time Low” is clearly the standout song, no matter that Bellion sings about masturbation and André 3000 like he just discovered them and wants three stacks of pancakes for his trouble. The song stands out! Several times it tapers into silence — which, if you’ve listened to Top 40 radio lately, you’ll agree is an especially welcome trait. Plus, whenever Bellion sings the word “low,” he doesn’t make it go LOW like Garth Brooks; no, he goes HIGH. Thus concludes my thesis: Jon Bellion is essentially Michelle Obama. Who the fuck doesn’t love Michelle Obama?

Reader average: [3] (11 votes)

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5 Responses to “Jon Bellion – All Time Low”

  1. “a sort of Fisher-Price My First Misanthropy™” IM SCREAMING

    for the record this would have been a [2] but then I remembered he titled his album The Human Condition and I had to dock another point for that

  2. I forgot about the hyuh sound (I used to own a Casio keyboard with that sound on it) and the Three Stacks line!!! I stand by my score, because as much as it seemingly begs to be unlikeable, I do like the song overall.

  3. fuck yall I like Owl City

  4. Better –

  5. Does anyone else think that the song, All Time Low, sounds like, The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel?