Chord Overstreet shows maturity and pop music skill on new single

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While some audiences might know Chord Overstreet from the successful series, “Glee,” Overstreet is making a name for himself as a musician. His second EP was released early in 2017. The first single, “Hold On,” is striking in its earnest portrayal of love.

Introduction: Chord Overstreet

Watching Overstreet perform on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” I had no idea his resume was quite full for such a young person. In the end, it doesn’t matter–if this were his first recording, it would still be an accomplishment.

Audiences watching the show at home are struck by the cool, contemporary sound of love as embodied by Overstreet. The visuals are even brighter. The background singers are clad in long, bright colored dresses with spaghetti straps. The dresses are a departure from the the black, typical background singer uniform. Maybe the clothing was to serve as symbolism, or maybe it was the result of a stylist’s whim. Either way, the stage looked brighter, overall, but nothing could detract from Overstreet’s sound

In addition to his work on “Glee,” Overstreet’s musical career includes a debut album, and the EP from which “Hold On” is derived. His first musical recordings were more country than pop, but “Hold On” is pop.

Chord Overstreet’s pop music: “Hold On”

Usually when a previously unheard of artist appears as the musical guest on a talk show, cynical audience members roll their eyes when the host gets excited about the performer. After all, it is the host’s job to at least make it sound as if the musical guest is the best ever.

Chord Overstreet appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show. As usual, there was enthusiasm about Overstreet. Yet, I didn’t expect anything special. Not that Fallon does not have stellar musical guests, there are always a few that surprise. At the appropriate time, Overstreet was introduced. There was something earnest and focused about his approach that made the performance special.

Musically, Overstreet sounds at times as if he picks up somewhere between Imagine Dragons and Ed Sheeran. That is as close to accurate as I can get, and maybe I am still missing the mark. But the track is sophisticated without the song being about sophistication. The song tells a story of lingering desire.

Pop songs about love are commonplace. The difference here might be the message. While dating in contemporary times might make people impatient, it was nice to hear a song about someone declaring the one he wants. As if to say, the breakup doesn’t have to happen.

“Hold On” is overwhelmed with percussion. This makes a stark soundscape, as Overstreet’s voice floats over the instrumentation. At what sounds to be the bridge, the instrumentation swells, as do the vocals. The guitar lines are delicate and lonely, which makes sense in a song about contemporary love.

Overstreet managed to create his own wall of sound. The backing vocalists didn’t always stay in the background–their voices meshed with Overstreet’s. In this way, listeners are treated to a full range of sound. The enunciation of each word is clear, even in a performance on a televised stage.

Overstreet makes love an aspect of his personal narrative. His careful, nuanced approach is performed clear and not-so-loud. Given Overstreet’s take, love, pop’s go-to topic, sounds new for a contemporary audience.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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