Single Review: Owl City ft. Shawn Chrystopher – ‘Alligator Sky’

“‘Alligator Sky’ sees him marry a more urban pop sound into his heavily stylised, surrealist productions”

3 STARS

Digital Release: June 19, 2011

Physical Release: N/A

Owl City, the world’s biggest Postal Service fan, first broke into the mainstream when the majority of people in the UK had ‘Fireflies’, the first single from his second album, bashed through their ear-drums one time too often during the summer of 2009. Since then, his popularity has somewhat trailed off, as the far superior ‘Vanilla Twilight’ failed to follow the same success, as did third single ‘Umbrella Beach’. But now he’s onto his third album, and even though his unmistakable synthpop sound is still prominent – you get that much just by glancing at his song titles – ‘Alligator Sky’ sees him marry a more urban pop sound into his heavily stylised, surrealist productions.

In typical Owl City style, the lyrics appear to make sense only to him – “Where was I when the rockets came to life/And carried you away?”, he sings, assisted by his staple auto-tuning, and then Shawn Chrystopher, who, rather uncannily, sounds like B.o.B., and his intonation mirrors that of Chipmunk’s on his UK #2 single ‘Champion’, so no points for originality there. But the lyrics appear to speak of jumping in head first into a situation that actually needs care and attention (the mention of alligators riddling the sky), and the concept of launching into the never-ending sky without ever knowing “what’s up ahead” shows how Adam’s lyrics do make sense to others, but only to those who look past their surface.

That said, the chorus is what holds the song together, and rightly so because with the warming strings and psychedelic synth patterns that adorn his melodies, any hiccoughs earlier are completely forgotten as Adam provides a dreamy escapism for his listeners. But the best part is that middle eight – “Rollercoaster through the atmosphere/I’m drowning in this starry serenade”, Adam sings accompanied by a gradual crescendo, before one more spin of the chorus.

On paper, Owl City and rapping – especially rapping from a bit of a nobody in the music industry – may seems like quite the juxtaposition, a not one that will pay off. And to some extent, ‘Alligator Sky’ doesn’t work or flow well, with only Adam’s twiddling at the production desk creating the link between the two artists here, but to a further extent, it’s a decent attempt at making this hybrid genre; much more so than if Chrystopher were rapping about girls and clubs and the sex, so whilst he may seem out of place, think of him as a bull in a china shop who, in an attempt to try and fit in well, has hidden amongst the china teacups with bulls on them.

 

 

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