Tom Odell

This Is Tom Odell – Spotify

Tom Odell – Another Love – YouTube

“Another Love” was a hit everywhere on the continent, going to #10 in the U.K. and #1 in Belgium, as well as being #11 in France and Germany and #6 in the Netherlands. But in America? Crickets, the track did not chart.

I was reading this story in “Rolling Stone” about Elton John being appreciative of the Weeknd sampling his music and the article ended with this:

“and then John also expressed admiration for the next generation of talented U.K. artists following in his footsteps, including Tom Odell, James Blake, Lewis Capaldi and Sam Smith.”

Tom Odell?

So I fired up Spotify and heard “Another Love.” I was stunned, because Elton was right, Tom Odell is following in his footsteps, I love this music, nobody is making this at this level of quality in the U.S., even the singer-songwriters have gone all beats, chasing the trends, although mostly unsuccessfully. A piano and a vocal? How retro, how right!

Why does this stuff always come from the U.K? Not only Sam Smith with his giant hits, but Ed Sheeran, even though Ed plays nice with the beatmasters. Who is to blame? The musicmakers themselves, record labels or the radio or all of them?

Now “Another Love” was a hit back in 2012, and Odell has not had this level of success since, although he’s had charting records.

And “Another Love” is not perfect, it’s not “Your Song,” then again it’s better than so much of the dreck paraded as popular music today.

Popular. Now that we’ve figured out music distribution, now that recording revenue is going up, we need to focus on creativity and broadening the kinds of music paid attention to. But the big labels are only putting their energy behind hip-hop and obvious pop, and their publicity people are promoting these to media outlets which basically just puppet priorities or promote obscurities and radio is so tight and so reactive that all we get is pop and hip-hop, but there’s tons more out there, and some of it is really good.

The web is all about niches, narrow verticals, but for some reason the big music business and the media refuse to adjust to this change, they believe there’s one top ten that everybody in America is listening to, but it’s not 1965 anymore, never mind 1995, the internet blew a hole in that paradigm. However, in the U.K., maybe because there’s state-controlled radio, a much greater swath of music is exposed.

The first crisis we’ve got today is connecting the music with the listener, and so far the music industry has done a piss-poor job. Playlists were supposed to be the panacea, but they are not. Too many songs, too many skippable, who can endure so much crap? And what is promoted on streaming sites, that which gets banners, is the stuff the major labels promote, everything else lies in a backwater. With so much music out there we need to hear less, not everything is entitled to the same exposure, couldn’t these streaming services feature great music in other genres? Not a ton of acts in those genres, just one at a time, to make it easy for the audience to listen and embrace.

And then we need more people making quality music in more genres in America. In an era where everything is available, we gravitate to greatness, good is not good enough. Listen to “Another Love,” and then try the wannabes, you’ll hear the clear difference.

Now the funny thing is we saw this movie again after Tom Odell. Rag’n’Bone Man’s 2016 single “Human” was number one literally all over the world, but it was a stiff in the U.S. Columbia was so busy working the track slowly from format to format that it never broke through on the only format that matters, Top Forty. “Human” made it all the way up to #74 on “Billboard”‘s Hot 100, whew! And the funny thing is both these records were on Columbia, was it the marketplace or did the label blow it both times? And do you need a major label to push something and is that why we’ve been exposed to one-dimensional music ever since streaming services gained a toehold?

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