There’s a big difference between enjoyment and awe.
It’s pretty easy for me to enjoy a song. Give me a catchy beat, fun lyrics, a clever melodic trick, and I’m generally going to like the track. These elements are staple features in essentially every pop hit today, making it easier than ever for me to explore different artists and shuffle constantly between styles. While that doesn’t mean I’ll fall in love with every record I hear, I’ll be able to enjoy most for at least a couple listens. When I began listening to Jon Bellion, a pop singer, record producer, and rapper from Long Island, I expected something similar.
As it turns out, Bellion’s records aren’t most people’s records. Last Friday, the artist dropped three new singles—and I am in awe.
Each one of these singles is an acoustic version of a track from Bellion’s most recent studio album, Glory Sound Prep (2018). While I could sing the praises of that release all day long, these new renditions reimagine the tone and overall listening experience to such a degree that I felt as though I were listening to the songs for the first time.
To put that in perspective, I’ve listened to Glory Sound Prep all the way through probably over fifty times since it was released last November. That’s what professionals in the industry refer to as a “whole heck of a lot.” So trust me on this one—Bellion is doing some really interesting stuff here on these singles.
Out of the three, “Conversations with my Wife,” impresses me the most. The original album version of this track is already satisfying to listen to thanks to its pumping bassline and wonderfully produced vocal effects. By stripping some of that production away, however, the new release reveals a layer of emotion which, when complemented by outstanding piano and viola performances, brings a whole new life to the track. The second single, “Stupid Deep,” uses similar instrument substitutions in order to completely redefine the emotional weight of the record. Even with those substitutions, I never felt as though the identities of the original tracks were compromised in any way. While acoustic covers at large often lose the original’s pacing, Bellion’s arrangements don’t suffer the same fate. In particular, “Blu” keeps its iconic percussive bounce by implementing a brass section to fill out the latter half of the song.
After only a few listens, it becomes evident just how much thought went into constructing each record. That sort of attention to detail when producing music is what differentiates this release from much of what I hear on the radio today. Sure, I still enjoy a lot of it. But this—this is truly awesome.