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A Great Big World Serves Up an Uneven Debut

  • Christa Banister Contributing Writer
  • 2014 29 Jan
A Great Big World Serves Up an Uneven Debut

Artist: A Great Big World
Title: Is There Anybody Out There?
Label: Epic

Back in the days before anyone could simply download the new single of the moment (yes, I realize I’m probably dating myself here), if you really loved a song you were (gasp!) forced to buy the entire CD, cassette, what have you, just so you could hear it.

And if you were lucky, very, very lucky, there were three or four more songs that made it worth the 15 bucks you shelled out.

So why am I taking you down musical memory lane, you ask? Well, it’s because you’re fortunate to live in a day where you don’t necessarily have to commit to an entire album. Take Great Big World, for instance. After doing his own thing in New York City for a while, Indie singer/songwriter Ian Axel found a kindred spirit in fellow artist Chad Vaccarino. Teaming up to form A Great Big World in 2012, the duo got the break of a lifetime when Axel re-released “Say Something,” a brooding piano ballad. After being featured on Fox’s hit show So You Think You Can Dance, one of Christina Aguilera’s crew played it for her, and the group’s future grew even brighter. By adding her vocals to a new mix and giving it a spin on The Voice, it quickly became a surefire hit with the masses.

Trouble is, with as much momentum as “Say Something” gave A Great Big World, one would expect the rest of the duo’s debut to be just as memorable. But for whatever reason, Is Anybody Out There? is one of those albums where there isn’t a lot of depth and excitement beyond that initial single. Unless one’s simply curious about what else this band has to offer, there’s really no compelling reason to purchase the entire album.

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With the exception of total stinkers “Everyone is Gay” and “Shorty Don’t Wait,” both victims of banal lyrics and production, there’s nothing about Is There Anybody Out There? that’s full-on embarrassing, but there’s nothing song-wise that really clamors for your attention either.

For two singers with Indie roots, A Great Big World plays it pretty safe from start to finish. Whether it’s the cliché ridden, plodding strains of “Land of Opportunity” or the trite ode to misplaced ambition in “Rock Star,” one can’t help wondering if the  rapid success of “Say Something” was just a lucky break.

No doubt, “Say Something” was a special musical moment, but to stay relevant in the ears of a wide audience for the long haul, A Great Big World simply needed a more tricks up their sleeves.

*Published 1/29/2014

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