Friday, August 2, 2013

Out in the Music Marketplace: Mary Lambert and Steve Grand ... This One Time, at Bandcamp

By John Hill

Being out and in the music industry is not a bad spot to be in right now. With predecessors like Elton John, Melissa Etheridge and even Adam Lambert leading the way, many newer artists are met with yawns when they decide to come out.

However, being out and being successful do not necessarily go hand in hand.

That’s why it is so promising that two out singer/songwriters are garnering attention in the mainstream press for their music. Coincidentally, both artists are also selling their current music at, but that may be where the similarities end.

Mary Lambert “She Keeps Me Warm”
“No I can’t change/Even if I tried/Even if I wanted to.” It’s getting to a point where you can’t leave the radio on a Top 40 station without hearing this refrain, and that’s a good thing. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love” takes up the torch for marriages of all kinds, and Mary Lambert sings the hook on the chorus that drives that point home with a lightness and matter-of-factness that is undeniable. The part I didn’t expect was that Lambert would take that beautiful hook and craft a lush love song around it. Rather than recap it, here is Mary’s take on how the full-length song evolved:

‘Same Love’ had to be written from a place of love, I believed. I think that the best way to impact the world positively is to come from a place pure of heart, with complete and total love for humanity. I love. I love so much it makes me cry for no reason. I love humanity even when it is sickening and fails miserably at taking care of each other. When humanity seems devoid of love, it’s because it hasn’t been nurtured enough. I believe in nurturing it.

Releasing ‘She Keeps Me Warm’ today is a massive and scary step. Simply because this song is not political. It’s not about oppression or marriage equality. This song is a love song. That’s all it is. It’s an honest love song, an extended version of my chorus from ‘Same Love’. It’s another side of the story. The only difference with this song is that there are female pronouns. I’m not trying to be shocking. I suppose it’s inadvertently making a statement, but I hope this song sits in all hearts- gay or straight. It’s not about any of that. It’s about love. It’s always been about love.

The song was a Bandcamp exclusive up until this past Tuesday, but is now available on iTunes as well. No matter where you buy it, just do it. Lambert’s voice, combined with a unique perspective in the pop marketplace, is a welcome and needed addition.

Steve Grand “All-American Boy”

If you haven’t heard about Steve Grand being “country’s first gay superstar,” don’t feel bad, because it is definitely a misnomer. Steve Grand IS a promising singer/songwriter and “All-American Boy” IS a good song, but to declare Grand a star off of one independently-released song that has tinges of Country in its melody is a huge overreach. Then again, all publicity is good publicity, right? Not to mention the pictures that have come out from his modeling career or how he charged up all of his credit cards to pay for the video that currently sits at 1.8 million views.

All hype and publicity aside, “All-American Boy” is a solid if not innovative song (besides the subject matter). “Boy” reminds me a bit of Ferras’ “Hollywood’s Not America,” which was utilized during season seven of American Idol in 2008. It does not take much to picture this playing on the radio alongside songs from Maroon 5 or Katy Perry, and hopefully he gets the attention that a song of this quality deserves.

While his full-time job is in education, John Hill also writes a successful music blog titled Pop Music Notes. He is also active on Twitter @popmusicnotes and lives in Denver with his partners in crime James and Bruiser.