Hello Bandcampers! And non-Bandcampers as well, I just feel particularly exhilarated to shout out Bandcamp when there’s an opportunity to. It has been about a year since we last checked in with Mr. Leo Kelly-Gee, one of the esteemed artists from our Top 100 Songs of 2021, and his earworm of folk excellence, “Free.” The London based artist returns with a brand-new single entitled, “Headphones.” The official release date for streaming services is November 18th. However, in true Bandcamper spirit, you can hear it, buy it, and download it now on Bandcamp:
Never a far cry away from folk brilliance, with influence that many have cited as being similar in nature to the likes of Paul Simon and John Mayer, Leo Kelly-Gee’s latest single still indeed falls within that scope. Although, my first impression upon hearing the new song is that I would personally put a spin on it by saying it strikes me with the same vibe as Jason Mraz. Perhaps that is because the new single is a bit more upbeat than the last one. Full band arrangement, a bit funky. The chorus is delightfully uplifting and audibly paints a picture of blissfully strutting down the street listening to your favorite song. “Headphones” is a catchy, upbeat, folk-pop song that will have you tapping your feet and singing along.
For all intents and purposes that’s exactly what the single is designed to do. Afterall, it is a love song. There are a million love songs out there that we can relate to, or fall on one side of the fence or the other based on our own perspective, but this song? This love song is one I am certain we all should be able to rally behind. You would not be here reading this with me if it were not true. It is a love song dedicated to …. music! As Kelly-Gee puts it so poignantly:
Headphones is a love letter to the indescribable feeling that you get when you have your favorite music playing in your ears and you can’t help but dance along and imagine you’re the main character in your own music video. But, of course, you’re never really alone when you’ve got your headphones on.Leo Kelly-Gee on the “meaning” of latest single
Indeed, music is the ultimate mood stabilizer, the shoulder to cry on, and the therapist always on-call. Kelly-Gee sings, “I’m never alone in my brain, when I’ve got my headphones on.” Amazing how true that is. That is the true impact and unrealized power artists have with their creativity. Near and far, an artist has the ability and opportunity to establish that type of strong connection with an audience via their music. Thank you, Mr. Kelly-Gee, for your contributions to the world! The appreciation is not lost on me. Another great insight from the artist about the overall concept of the tune:
Ever since I got my first MP3 player (the selling point was 500MB and 100 songs!), I’ve always loved the way that music has the ability to act as a sort of megaphone for your mood. If you’re up, music can catapult your happiness into the stratosphere. If you’re down, it can help you plunge the depths of your emotions and really indulge in your own misery. If you’re feeling pensive, music can help you stare out of the train window watching the world go by.Leo Kelly-Gene about music and the theme behind the song “Headphones”
I’d also like to speak musically to the piece for just a little bit as well. There are some interesting dynamics applied to the song. For starters, there is a key change towards the end of the song. That to me is a demonstration of skillful songwriting. In my personal opinion that is a tough one to pull off well. You need to have a melody strong enough to withstand the change without sounding “weird.” Secondly when done right it gives you that “intensification” feeling when listening to the melodic reprise. That’s the best way I can attempt to describe it, in a key change like that it either feels dynamically “weird” or it feels “intense.” Bravo to the artist! The song also dabbles with a 6/8 groove, which I’m not musically inclined enough to speak to very deeply, but perhaps that’s where I’m getting some of the “funky” vibes I’m feeling? Kelly-Gene cited going for a “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” vibe with it. In closing, I’ll leave you with a humorous recollection by the artist which, while it makes me chuckle, is also a testament to how strong the melody of the song is:
The riff finally came in 2018 noodling around in my bedroom. I actually wrote the end of the song first (the ‘I’m never alone in my brain when I’ve got my headphones on’) and played it to my flat mate who proceeded to get really angry because it then got stuck in their head for a week, which made me think I was onto something.Leo Kelly-Gene on the creative process for “Headphones”
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