It’s been almost two weeks since the debut of Lee DeWyze’s new single “Silver Lining” on American Idol. Since then, I’ve seen several comments on YouTube, twitter and various blogs and articles regarding similarities of Lee’s “Silver Lining” to Phillip Phillips “Home” and to the styles of Mumford & Son’s and the Lumineers. Being compared to this caliber of talent is a compliment to say the least. However, unlike various commenters, I’d like to comment in a more mature fashion. There are some facts and observations that I’d like to point out.
The most common comparison and opinion of music consumers is that Lee DeWyze’s new song “Silver Lining” sounds too much like Phillip Phillips “Home”. Some may not know that “Silver Lining” was co-written by Drew Pearson who also co-wrote “Home”. This could definitely be a contributing factor. The style is definitely similar, but a copy?… I don’t hear it. And contrary to belief, it is my understanding that “Silver Lining” was actually written before “Home”.
Consequently, the whole idea that Lee is trying to copy Phillip Phillips is absurd. Anyone who is a true Phillip fan and not simply an Idol fan should know that Phillip’s true style is not that of the sound of “Home” which was written by Drew Pearson & Greg Holden or his newest single “Gone Gone gone” which he also did not write. It was written by Derek Fuhrmann, Todd Clark and Gregg Wattenberg respectively. Early after Phillips win last year, he was quoted by Kara Warner from MTV as saying “it’s not really something I would write”. Phillip stated that he writes songs in the “jazz and rock alternative sound; not really rock-rock.” according to Shirley Halperin from The Hollywood Reporter. These references can be found on Wikipedia. If you’re truly interested in the genuine sound of Phillip Phillips, take a listen to “Wanted Is Love” or “A Fools Dance” off his album “The World from the Side of the Moon” which were solely written by him or get out and see him live where you can experience his true sound.
In response to the insinuation that Lee is trying too hard to sound like popular groups such as Mumford & Son’s and the Lumineers is ridiculous. Although they are definitely musical influences, the fact is Lee DeWyze has been actively writing and making music since 2003. When Lee was 17 years old he wrote the fan favorite tune “Annabelle”. In 2007 Lee signed with Wuli Records and released two pre-idol albums, So I’m Told and Slumberland from 2007 – 2010 with much of that folk-rock sound. My guess is, this is the sound Lee desired to evolve and release as his post Idol album on RCA. Regardless, Lee stands behind every album he has made. It’s clear that the artistic direction Lee desired and the direction RCA had planned led to that ultimate fork in the road that resulted in the severing of the relationship. Furthermore, I’d like to point out that the Lumineers, according to Wikipedia became active in 2005 followed by Mumford & Sons in 2007. If Lee had released this type of music prior to these groups, would people be making the same judgments?
In several interviews Lee has stated, “All things happen for a reason and everything has happened so that I could make this record.” In his recent interview with Billboard, Lee refers to his forthcoming summer album as “folk story telling anthem pop rock. It’s a new genre.” In another interview with the Daily Herald, Lee referred to this album as “very organic”. What I like is that he isn’t trying to fit himself into a specific genre. He and his label, Vanguard Records, are on the same page. Also said in his recent interview with Billboard, “He explains that his newfound musical direction came together naturally in the studio. ‘We didn’t go into the studio and say, “We’re going to make this kind of album.’ We were like, ‘Let’s just make music. You play the banjo? OK go’.” They are adding instruments and changing things up as they go and are allowing the sound to evolve throughout the process. In my opinion, this is very refreshing. It’s obvious he prefers to just let the music flow naturally and not be confined to limitations of a particular sound and therefore, Lee DeWyze has been one of those unique artists that are far too underrated. I have a sneaking suspicion that that is all about to change.
Taking all of this into consideration, I’d like to make one last observation. Why do we have different genres in music if it’s not ok to have a similar sound? It is my understanding that music is classified into genres to group similar sounds for distribution and other purposes such as helping consumers identify other artists that they may like to listen too. Listen to what you like, but don’t waste your time bashing or criticizing people that you don’t prefer. The artistic nature of music means that these classifications are often arbitrary and in this case, can be controversial, but don’t you think your time could be better spent?
This is just my two cents… Take it or leave it. Now let’s watch that amazing performance again shall we? Lee performing “Silver Lining” on American Idol