On so many levels Charlie Puth is the perfect pop commodity – good looking, able to write short, hooky three-minute songs as easily as sneeze, all delivered with pristine vocals (more on this later)…basically flawless on every level. Only problem is, everything he touches sounds like a production line hit-factory without much depth or breadth. It’s no coincidence Puth has written hits for everyone from Katy Perry to Justin Bieber. In the end these icons run the risk of sounding the quite similar. Quelle surprise.
That said, New Jersey-born Puth’s self-produced third album is yet another masterclass on how to deliver the exemplary contemporary multi-million seller. Part electro, part RnB, part American Idol type anodyne pop, it’s still bound to sell by the shedload…visualise a soundtrack to your high street shopping experience. Interestingly, though, this time he shared the production in progress via social media and asked for fan’s advice and opinions.
Kicking off with That’s Hilarious – an auto-tuned kaleidoscope of synthetic sounds – Charlie is essentially a coming-of-age break up album (even though he’s 30). His lyrical message is best communicated on songs such as When You’re Sad I’m Sad, a touching ballad which features classically trained Puth on piano, and Left And Right which features Jung Kook of BTS – a track which has already picked up over 229 million viewers on YouTube. But by far the best is left until last: No More Drama is Daft Punk through and through, so much so you’d swear Nile Rodgers had co-written it.
Puth has undoubtedly come a long way since being discovered by Ellen Degeneres (via his YouTube channel) and then signed to her label eleveneleven in 2011. Four multi-platinum hits followed: One Call Away, Marvin Gaye (feat Meghan Trainor), We Don’t Talk Anymore (feat Selena Gomez) and See You Again (feat Wiz Khalifa) – the best-selling song of 2015, spending 12 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The latter earned him three Grammy nominations, including ‘Song of The Year’, a Golden Globe nomination and nine-times platinum certification in the US.
Is anything on his latest album going to propel him onto the next level? Probably not. But Puth is already on a high enough platform where he can take that…
Writer and professional flautist Grace Twomey (MMus) performs regularly at gigs in South London where she’s based. All her areas of expertise include classical, pop, indie, latin and folk music.