Embarrassment-by-proximity, also known as second-hand embarrassment, is an unfortunate symptom of day-to-day life that most of us have had to deal with. It’s the feeling you get when your friend asks the big-boned woman if it’s a girl or a boy, when she’s not even expecting. Or the feeling you get when you listen to a certain Canadian four-piece who somehow continuously churn out such bad music that you begin to feel a tinge of sympathy for them. And as I recently discovered, it’s also the feeling you get when you listen to Michael Lee’s sophomore EP, Blown Away, as it is yet another unfortunate addition to the Nickelback-influenced excuse for rock music.
The EP opens with the track “I Won’t Back Down”. As is explained on Lee’s bandcamp page, the song is about being in a relationship with an individual who “has the upper hand”. “Not only does this song have such an imaginative and original message, but the sound is so fresh and unheard of that I was almost rendered speechless upon my first listen” is what I wish I could say about the song, but unfortunately the only part of the song that induced speechlessness was it’s complete lack of everything that I just mentioned. Lyrically, there isn’t much in the way of creativity. The message from song to song varies from the sometimes-done-right-but-mainly-overused “trouble in paradise” theme to unclear jumbles of words that are supposed to sound artistic. The EP as a whole serves as an encyclopedia for examples of rhyming for the sake of rhyming, which is probably a huge contributor to the nonsensical aspect of the lyrics. Specifically, in “New State of Mind”, the message has something to do with self-betterment, but outside of that, not much is really said by the end of the song, making it virtually impossible for anyone to relate to his lyrics.
The absence of originality flows perfectly throughout every aspect of the songwriting process, as can be heard in the riffs, beats and song structures — all of which generate a feeling of boredom like no other. There just isn’t anything enticing enough on the EP to rank it as anything other than filler music. It’s the kind of music that you would settle for after scanning every other preset on your radio, having to choose between silence, this, or some song featuring Pitbull that’s inevitably playing on one of the other stations.
Although Lee’s range is impressively high for a guy, the way in which he uses it comes off as whiny and a little bit annoying to listen to for a long period of time. The closest comparison that I can draw would be Gavin DeGraw and Daniel Powter’s lovechild after a bitter breakup. While the sound that he’s aiming to achieve seems to be somewhere in the rock category, his voice simply does not match the genre. All of this aside, the actual calibre of his singing isn’t terrible. The man can undoubtedly hold a note, but the music for which he is putting his vocals to use only clouds any smidgeon of potential that they may hold.
Overall, the cons of Michael Lee’s “Blown Away” definitely outweigh the pros. And while musical preference is subjective and there is no definitive answer as to whether or not this EP is a success, I personally wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is looking for stimulating new music. For those of you who are curious all the same, you can find the EP as well as more Michael Lee originals on his bandcamp page, or stop by his Facebook page for all of his latest endeavours.
Written by Karyna Evangelista