Following Greyson Chance’s performance of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” on the Ellen Degeneres Show in 2010, the world became obsessed with him overnight. But with becoming a viral sensation comes the pressure of sustaining such stardom. There are plenty of other stars who have risen and fallen in a matter of months (Iggy Azalea, I’m looking at you). The question was, could this sixth-grader from Oklahoma really become a viable pop sensation? With the upcoming release of Somewhere Over My Head, we get some insight into an aptly-named EP; Chance may have felt like he was drowning in the pop music genre, and this is his opportunity to claw his way back out. Though he has toured extensively in Asia, Chance has yet to see the craze in North America that he experienced when he first became famous.
This EP is short and sweet; right off the bat, “Afterlife” is reminiscent of Justin Bieber and Zayn, influenced by some soulful R&B vibes, but still overwhelmingly pop. You can really hear the evolution that Chance has gone through. Moving away from the dance-pop sound of his youth, as Chance has matured, so has his repertoire. “Hit and Run” has Chance singing about his experience with fame and fast lifestyles, and his struggle to maintain personal relationships. He even delves into his relationship with his father for a moment, giving us a glimpse at the real Greyson Chance, and not the industry-churned, spat-out image of the young artist. I think the biggest problem with this EP is not the tracks that comprise it; indeed, each song is skillfully executed and performed. Instead, the problem lies within the material itself. Each song, while impressive, still lacks some oomph, some je ne sais quoi, something that makes listeners’ ears perk up. None of the tracks are particularly outstanding, and instead, they ride the line of slightly better than decent. None of the tracks are overwhelmingly catchy, and I can’t really imagine any of the songs being on top 40 radio. To be honest, Chance’s electronic dance track, “Oceans,” with tyDi and Jack Novak, is more noteworthy, and is the one that deserves airplay.
The one weakness to this EP is that despite all the growth that Chance has gone through in the past few years, I still don’t really know what his intention is in the music industry. As an artist who exploded onto the scene at such a young age, I think that there is some self-discovery and self-understanding that Chance has yet to go through. He hasn’t found his niche yet, but Somewhere Over My Head, may be his first foray into that space. This EP sounds more genuine than his previous work, indicating that Chance may finally know what his sound is, though there is definitely still more work to be done. I’m excited to hear new material from Chance, and experience the moment when I can hear something of his and say immediately, “Ah yes, this is Greyson Chance, this is iconic and obviously him.”
3 out of 5 stars
Must-Listen Tracks: “Afterlife,” “Hit & Run”