CODY SIMPSON: DOES HIS TALENT HOLD-UP?

October 19, 2013
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CodySimpson95.5 (Photo credit: @JillSimpsonizer)

Last Thursday when my friend asked – no, told me we were going to Cody Simpson’s free acoustic show at Music Millenium in Southeast Portland, my reaction was basically: It’s free? Okay I’ll go!

It’s not that I wasn’t excited to attend the show, it’s just that…being a woman of 25, Cody Simpson isn’t exactly on my radar. I guess he’s just not marketed toward me directly. Sure, I had seen him a few times while he was opening for Justin Bieber’s Believe Tour, and had so appreciated how his music pumped-up the crowd for what was to come. (Consequently, I even ended up buying a couple of his songs such as “Wish You Were Here” and “Pretty Brown Eyes.”) I also gathered that he liked to surf, had an Australian accent, could sing well, and was friends with Kendall and Kylie Jenner from Keeping Up With The Kardashians. But to be honest, other than his associations with Justin Bieber, I didn’t know much about the kid until recently. Still, I agreed to attend his acoustic show on October 10th because:

A. It would summon nostalgia from the Believe Tour and maybe help with my post concert depression.

B. I wanted to see if Cody’s raw talent could hold its own, without the euphoric fog of Justin Bieber’s looming entrance.

And

C. IT WAS FREE!

In the process of attending this free acoustic show, I ended up waiting in line with his hardcore fans, listening to his acoustic set, meeting him, and actively listening to his latest album, “Surfer’s Paradise.” It ended up being an interesting, educational, and altogether enjoyable experience. I now feel like I have enough information to form an opinion about Cody Simpson’s career.

His Fans, er—“Angels”

 Music Millenium in SE Portland was too small a venue for Cody Simpson’s Portland area fans; we were packed. Here’s a shocker: most of the people in attendance were teenage girls. My friend and I were definitely the oldest people there who weren’t attending as someone’s legal guardian. Additionally, almost every parental supervisor was also female. The one male audience member I remember seeing was actually Cody Simpson’s dad, Brad Simpson. The only reason I could tell he was a VIP was because all the “Angels” were gazing at him with hope and wonder in their eyes, taking photos and asking him for selfies.

During his performance, a few of his fans would shout out proclamations of their love, which became somewhat distracting: I love you Cody! You’re so hot! Speak to me! When the yelling became trendy, it was only necessary that Cody gently “shhhhh” the crowd during a musical segway. He then responded to a young admirer by coolly saying, “I love you too, alright. Just…later,” and then tacking on a wink. Very impressive, Cody. And so debonair!

 His Acoustic Set

 For his big entrance in the tiny venue, Cody rushed to the edge of the loft-turned-stage, and looked directly into the eyes of several fans. As someone who values eye contact from her idols, I really appreciate Cody’s gesture. He then greeted the crowd, grabbed his guitar, and smooth-talked the show into commencement.

 He started the show with “La Da Dee,” which many of his fans sang shouted along with. To my satisfaction, Cody’s vocals sounded superb! In hearing his pure voice alongside his own acoustic guitar playing, I was very impressed with his natural musical instincts. He never missed a note or beat, and sounded quite comparable to his studio recordings.

With a bounty of ad-libbing throughout, Cody sang “Sinkin’ In,” and “All Day” with confidence and passion. I could tell he really wanted to show the audience his musical abilities.He ended the show with an ultra long and flowing version of “Pretty Brown Eyes,” which even I had to sing along to, since it’s in my iTunes library and I know it by heart.

It was a short set, but it was just enough to impress a critical listener like me.

His In-Store Signing

 As someone who has seriously considered selling body parts for a chance to meet certain people (Justin Bieber and Timberlake, I’m looking at you), I had a hard time wrapping my mind around this virtually free chance to meet Cody. All I had to do was buy his latest CD, Surfer’s Paradise for $9.99. DONE AND DONE.

While we waited in line for the signing we got to watch Cody’s interactions with all the other fans. (Anyone in charge of a meet and greet for other artists should take note – it’s only fair to let the rest of us see them up close for as long as possible! It’s just an all-around good call!) Cody seemed to be a sweet, mild mannered, and maybe even a bit shy.

I decided I should gift Cody a little souvenir from Oregon for his troubles. Moments before meeting Cody, I decided to give him my own personal Oregon Ducks keychain (and struggled tirelessly to break it free from my key ring). After receiving my small gesture, Cody thanked me, and said he would definitely be back to Portland, which was delightful. After signing my fresh copy of “Surfer’s Paradise,” Cody Simpson said the words: “Go Ducks!” To be quite honest, that made my day. Consider me a lifelong fan, Cody.

SignedCody_CD

 His Surfer’s Paradise

 I figured it was only proper form to listen to his album at full length. First of all, it’s a bit too summery to be listening to right now. “Surfer’s Paradise” is a bit mellow for my taste, but it’s still enjoyable for certain situations. It sets the mood for sitting on a beach log while listening to your talented boyfriend play songs on his guitar. Not a bad scenario in my opinion. With all of that being said, there are a couple repeatable songs on the album.

“Imma Be Cool” is my personal favorite. Its na na na’s, catchy chorus and cheery feel are particularly infectious. The lyrics describe Cody’s overall attitude toward life and give you a feel for who he is as a person.

The track also features a rap by Asher Roth, which gives the pop song a bit of a Justin-Timberlake vibe because of its inclusion of hip-hop elements. It’s clearly a sound that he’s going for. Cody has given JT a shout-out in his song, “Pretty Brown Eyes” and has even listed JT as an artist that influences his music.

When discussing his first EP Coast to Coast, Cody said, “I’d call it a Justin Timberlake mixed with Jack Johnson sort of vibe. There’s a bunch of songs on there that are sort of like that.”

I totally see what the kid is talking about in terms of his style, and it holds true for “Surfer’s Paradise” as well. His vocal style and use of rap is very much a reference to Timberlake, while his consistent use of acoustic guitar and mellower tunes is a nod to Johnson. If you ask me, the kid is pulling off the references quite nicely while also continuing to cultivate his own unique style.

My Conclusion

 After seeing him live now multiple times, meeting him, and listening to his more mature album, I have gathered that he’s a pretty mellow dude who really likes to play music and wants to be taken seriously. If that’s any indicator, this teen sensation could go on to have a pretty solid adult career. And from what I can tell, he seems to have a loyal and dedicated fan base. How far he goes will depend on how many more radio hits he can provide, if he can hold our attention in this competitive time, and if he can gain older, more diverse fans. I may not have technically been an “Angel” before, but after seeing him on his acoustic tour I can attest that he is a true talent. I am definitely down with Cody Simpson, and am looking forward to watching his career flourish.

Interested in seeing one of Cody’s upcoming shows? Check out his tour schedule here and tweet us what you think at @weknowtheDJ.

-Jenni M (@JenniferKayMo)

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