In the age of social media and the glorification of depression, optimism is underrated. When it is so easy to be lulled by the strangely comforting sadness and stress that envelops modern culture, sometimes the simple act of being happy and optimistic can seem impossible. But when the right song comes on, all of the darkness can fade away.
Andy Grammer is nearly a household name. He has pumped out multiple hits with “Honey I’m Good” and “Keep Your Head Up,” despite never really becoming a true celebrity. His demeanor is not one of fame and money, and despite some minor successes, he continues to be a B-list artist. Despite all of this, his music is the definition of happiness.
Grammer’s music all has the same kind of style. Typically, a verse talking about minor conflict or some form of nostalgia that begins to build to a chorus that explodes with joy. The hook is anthemic and catchy and the vocals express something that can sometimes be difficult to find: true joy. If there is anything that Grammer does better than most, it is sounding as though he truly enjoys what he is doing. Lyrically, the songs are naturally going to be shallow and empty, but can act as a good pallet cleanse from the deep and somber.
“Back Home” is an essential track in his catalogue that not only exemplifies these characteristics but shoes it at its absolute strongest. With a foot stomp acting as percussion, a light guitar introduces the song. Grammer discusses the value of friends and reminisces on where he came from. A piano comes in, followed by a rolling snare drum until the chorus explodes with a full band and a multitude of voices practically chanting the chorus. Even at its cheesiest moments of toasting the Red Bull energy drink, the song easily evokes that joy that starts in the gut until a smile sneaks its way out. Other songs that do this excellently are “Smoke Clears,” “Fine By Me,” and “I Found You.” This is the bread and butter of Andy Grammer.
Currently, Grammer is four albums into his career. While there are a few tracks that are just embarrassing, such as “Grown A** Man Child” from his third album, where the track title is sang to glittering synths, snaps and some horns that are almost indistinguishable next to his voice, most of the songs are simply fun and joyful. Even the more serious moments have this sense of childlike wonder while simultaneously having just enough maturity, making the most complex situations seem simple. This kind of sound can easily bring intense criticism from critics, but at times, it is nice to stop and just smile.
— Noah Estes is a music columnist for the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, a 2018 graduate of Bartlesville High School and a student at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on his YouTube channel, SMEB Reviews.