Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Kelleigh Bannen – Famous

In which we question the possibility of achieving fame via Top 40 production.


Anthony Easton: This is pretty and delicate, and the lyrics have a clear and precise narrative, but none of that overcomes the Toyota commercial blandness. 

Mallory O’Donnell: Trad instruments compliment and generic slap-backbeats compromise the rusty, dry rage summoned by Bannen on the chorus.

Alfred Soto: How is she going to make him famous — with the mandolin or “I Knew You Were Trouble” electrobeats? Imagine this farrago as a dialogue between producer and struggling artist.

Juana Giaimo: “I’m gonna make you famous” she repeats and repeats, but by the end of the song we still have no idea who she is talking about. 

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: “Before you get a chance to break another heart / I’m gonna make you famous.” Yeah, we’re coming for you THIS year, Kony!

Brad Shoup: The famous bit is supposed to be sneering, but she goes to it so often that she starts to sound like a talent agent. She’s as jittery as the banjo: barely any sustain, mostly cadence, cadence. In at least one place, this tracks the melody from OneRepublic’s “All the Right Places”. I hope to God it’s a coincidence.

Edward Okulicz: Bannen’s pain and anger on “Famous” is lyrically about as deep as a puddle, and her capacity to sell it with her voice is somehow even shallower. Can you even do revenge with a sound this slick?

Katherine St Asaph: Midtempo country tradcraft undermined by and undermining top-40 stomp. Shania, who made a few scrubs famous, would’ve solved this problem by releasing separate mixes.

Scott Mildenhall: There’s something about a threat of notoriety from a scorned lover with a major label record deal that makes it seem a lot more immediate, and biographical too. It’s like the Engineered Public Confession TV trope, only with the twist that — draw back the curtain! — this message is being broadcast for real. The chorus is the point that should become clear, the title delivered in a one-two-three punch, but just as the sound is missing a real edge, it also becomes apparent that she’s not actually going to name him. Maybe she’s just keeping him hanging.

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