Charlie Puth gained his fame through posting pop and doo-wop videos on YouTube since 2009. Nine Track Mind is his first album, which features the infectiously catchy single ‘Marvin Gaye’ featuring Meghan Trainor, that has bound to have gotten on your nerves already. Puth attempted to honour the soul and Motown legend (whose music, lyrics and voice cannot be compared to Puth’s) but fails to do so with this single due to the repetitiveness and meaninglessness of the song and the fact that Puth is not a soul singer. Rather, it seems Puth used such a well-known and acclaimed artist to make try and manufacture a fame of his own.
It’s sad to think that most people will sing Puth’s song now when Marvin Gaye’s name comes up rather ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’. ‘Marvin Gaye’ is overly joyous and bouncy and is one of those pop songs that refuse to stop getting stuck in your head like Eliza Doolittle’s sickly sweet ‘Pack Up’. It shows us that as long as an up and coming artist makes a song catchy enough and sings with a popular artist of the time, it’s bound to do well. At least the tribute is vibrant and merry enough to be a celebration of Gaye’s life rather than a eulogy of sorts.
Some believe that Puth is bringing back old school Motown, but it’s hard to see this in his new album. It’s definitely pop with doo-wop rhythms, but it’s nowhere near the likes of Motown classics just because it uses finger clicking and references a quintessential Motown figure.
The album opens with the rather uninspiring ‘One Call Away’ that feels more like an album filler than an enticing first track. The song has the cringe-worthy lyric ‘Superman’s got nothing on me’, just one of the face-palm moments in the album. ‘One Call Away’ is followed up by ‘Dangerously’ that was another outstandingly cringe-y track. Puth deliberately makes his singing of “I loved you dangerously” choppy and fragmented, because the adjective ‘dangerously’ really doesn’t fit in the lyrics. He then decides to quickly repeat ‘I love you’ at the end of the song that may rile you as much as when you find yourself singing ‘let’s Marvin Gaye and get it on’ for the hundredth time, a day after you heard someone say ‘Marvin Gaye’.
The album ends with the most bearable track, the single ‘See You Again’ featuring Wiz Khalifa, a tribute to the late Paul Walker, from the Furious 7 soundtrack. Again, Puth’s voice between lyrics is off-putting to say the least, but the song seems to do more in terms of paying respects than it does in ‘Marvin Gaye’ possibly because it’s not as infuriating but because some lyrics seem to offer comfort.
Though Puth may have a ‘good voice’, this album doesn’t showcase it in an appealing or satisfying way. The way he sings because of his music and lyrics is annoying and repetitive and doesn’t exhibit him as something different to his contemporaries. Each track, especially ‘Up All Night’ have mind-numbing and exasperating hooks where Puth mostly emphatically sings the song title in a bid to show that he can reach the high notes. The album’s track list is bland, with nothing jumping out at you; it compares to any other other current pop album. You could listen to the album the whole way through and not realise the song has even changed. It seems that Puth’s voice and talent as an artist could be displayed through a better written and more varied album. It would be hard to pick his music out of a line up of Justin Timberlake and One Republic songs.
Emily is currently listening to ‘Open Eye Signal’ by Jon Hopkins
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.