In the adult pop genre there are a handful of artists that consistently hit the mark for mass appeal. Doing so guarantees song placement in movies, television shows, advertising and, as one might expect, a sizable amount of Mood programs. Colbie Caillat, Jack Johnson, and Norah Jones all come to mind. One of the kings of the genre has hit a new prolific streak. John Mayer released his newest album, Paradise Valley, on August 16th. Over his entire career, this was the shortest time between studio albums. Perhaps there is maturity to credit, perhaps the sobering effect of successfully navigating back-to-back throat surgeries. Whatever the reason, it seems the man has found a pace suited for making lots of money and maintaining an already long-lived career.
While a small group of fans lament his turn toward “country”, the majority of them are on board and so are the critics. 2012’s Born and Raised garnished some of the most flattering reviews of his career and Paradise Valley seems to be following suit. Once again, the twang is kept to a minimum and the songwriting is warm and tasteful. It’s approachable and familiar enough to be used just about anywhere. This is where the Music Designer’s unsung weapon comes into play, omission.
The music that is left out of a brand’s program is just as powerful as the songs that are included. More progressive brands specifically want to avoid the mass appeal sound. And though John Mayer would please the ears of just about any customer as background music, knowing to omit him from certain playlists makes the experience purposeful, creating foreground music. As Music Designers we are very cognizant of the relationship between an artist’s image/sound and brand appropriateness. We appreciate John Mayer’s work for what it will and will not do.
– Submitted by Bo White, Music Design