Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad: Drew Neemia ‘Feel Alright’

Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad is a column which sees a panel of writers for The Corner review a range of local singles and grade them out of 10. Check out the song below, read through their opinions and let us know in the comments section your own thoughts and what you’d like us to review next time around

[YouTube / iTunes]

[Grade: 3.2]

Maddie Collier: disneyDANCE4eva raves in YouTube comments: “Once again you’ve managed to create a real masterpiece. Great work Drew <3”. I respectfully disagree. You have already heard this song three million times before. It’s formulaic, forgettable, plastic, uncooked. If your introduction is via the video, don’t be fooled by the opening scene in which a morose, suited-up Drew sits on a beach and quits his job via text (“I quit!” – sent from my iPhone). You are in for a violently upbeat and grating three and a half minutes, including a limp, blink-and-you-miss-it verse from Five A. I would say I hate this song, except that in fact it arouses no stronger an emotion in me than a kind of bland, mediocre sadness. This guy will probably get fat NZ on Air grants for the rest of his life and the equivalent of a Rugby World Cup ambassador role. Almost comical. [1]

Djinous Rowling: Wowsers, I felt like I could write this without hearing the song just by the first 10 seconds of the video. But then the joke was (kind of) on me! Because this song is catchy and I wouldn’t say I “like” it per-se but I would not be really angry if it played in a cab or anything like that. Until the rapping starts there’s a bit of a Jamiroquai-esque vibe to the song I think. More emphasis on the esque. But seriously, those first 10 seconds of video. And is that the guy from TV that everyone hated for ages? [3]

Danielle Street: Ex-kids TV host Drew Neemia seems to be in for a lifelong ride with his viewers and is now making pop music for the pre-pubescent. This is news to me but apparently it has been going on for sometime now. Drew’s an international champagne swilling jet-setter who is “Loving the #musiclife”. At any rate, listening to this song caused me to become physically nauseous #truestory. The rapid left-right panning effects and the digital tremolo (à la Cher 1998) made my head hurt. [1]

Laura Vincent: I like Drew Neemia – he seems like a driven person who’s not afraid to put himself out there and get some fingers in some pies. This song absolutely does not appeal to me and it feels rather lacking in personality – it reminds me of a lot of songs that played when I went to the gym once. Songs with a synthetic sound, and general themes of the importance of tonight, the emphasis of things being high or up in the sky, and appraisal of bodies. It sounds sharp, professional and set for popularity but it doesn’t hold a candle to my favourite song by a TV star-turned-popstar, that honour belonging to Donna Air’s band Crush, with ‘Jellyhead’. [4]

Luke Jacobs: Drew Neemia is doing what he knows best. Be smooth, be clean cut and don’t scare the parents of pre-adolescent girls who shill out the money so that they can buy his singles on iTunes or whatever people that age use to get NZ pop music these days. I don’t hear a lot of new ground being broken in this track and frankly I like that. He can stay within the limits of his vocal ability, the song’s video is slick enough to enjoy a couple of times and the hooks are there. Many other New Zealand acts struggle to actually give us a hook on a flat out pop song. Neemia is not writing for me or at me and I’m okay with this. Looking at him though I wonder how much longer he can do this without reaching a crisis that every ‘nice boy’ has to reach and that is when they stop being that nice boy and become a bit more of a man. [5]

Sean Quay: Upon hearing the statement “You can’t polish a turd”, Neemia interpreted this remark as a challenge and went immediately to the studio. We now have a shinny faeces. Thanks Drew. [0]

Eden Bradfield: I genuinely thought this was some big fuck-off pretend-gangster production like half the music videos coming out from big fuck-off-music-video-land at the moment. That is, I didn’t know that “Drew” is the man off Sticky TV and more recently C4. I had to Wikipedia that. And perhaps that’s mission accomplished for Drew: he sounds just like all the other big fucks. Of course, it isn’t music he’s making, it’s product. And that’s just fine and dandy – I’ve been known to eat a cheeseburger every now and again. [2]

Eamonn Marra: I know there has been debate on The Corner before about whether authenticity is a legitimate criticism or not, but this has so little authenticity I think it needs to be pointed out. Everything about this screams mass produced lifeless generic music, from the melody to the production to the structure (with the rap in the exact same place as every other pop song released in the past five years). There is nothing personal and nothing natural about this song at all – it’s so removed from any creative place. This has no artistic integrity and no authenticity and doesn’t deserve a rating for it.

Devon Kemp: It’s an excruciating process trying to milk tracks like ‘Feel Alright’ for their creative merits, so I’m taking it as a given that you and I agree that this track has a function far removed from holding one’s interest, or being inventive or unique in anyway; that it doesn’t attempt to say or do or comment or be insightful about absolutely anything except for the gutter-born teen angsts to which it provides futile anecdotes and resolutions. It’s a ‘persuasive’ track designed to entice you into ordering another round of Jager Bombs so that you can spill your insides into a toilet bowl, flush them down and start another week which will most likely end the same way it started. Awesome. So, does the song do what it sets out to do? Absolutely, it provides a repetitive beat, prescribes a certain carelessness in times when responsibility frustrates itself, sounds inhuman and – if you happen to be in it’s target market – makes you want to do all of the above. [8]

Tim Herbert: He’s getting a whole lotta love on the YouTube video and he can dance – that’s two more things than I’ve got going on. Does it mean I’ll buy this track? No. Does it mean this track will do well? Probably. There’s the “Baby tonight, we’ll light up the sky” line that is either empowering or repulsive – take your pick. This song does everything it’s meant to do but it’s not my cup of tea (perhaps using the phrase “not-my-cup-of-tea” further illustrates why it isn’t). [3]

18 Comments

  1. George says:

    Im interested in this panel of reviewers, firstly why is it that none of you look at the body of work an artist has put out and critique the growth, musicality, history and comparisons of the artist?
    It would seem far more relevant if you took the time to review Drew not only from this video clip/single he has released but also from his previously released clips/singles in order to establish his credibility as an artist. Its about the sustainability as much as it is the musicality.
    Secondly the context is always a necessity when dealing with authenticity, from a 14 yr old high school girls perspective this song has everything she needs to be sold, partnered with his history as a presenter its a perfect storm! And why shouldn’t he be NO. 1 he’s relevant to his market.
    Secondly musicality, surely its the marriage between the music and lyrics. Do they fit their specific genre are they catchy? Is there a continium within the music that ties the lyrics in with the overall feel of the song or is there a discombobulation that brings the listener to a place of uncertainty and uncomfortablitily?
    If that takes place then the artist has ostracized and isolated his audience, the most obvious can be found with his singing voice at the start of this song it sits at odds with the tune and struggles to find its place, he’s rushing to get to the hook there he will hit his stride and find his place.
    Lastly we all love to compare artists it brings about familiarity and helps find relevance to an artist, my comparison to Drew would be Justin Timberlake.
    His voice has been loosely modeled on JT and he pushes for similar vocalistic stylings, now that unravels something interesting because we all know JT hasn’t released an album since FutureSex/LoveSounds ’07’ which could mean Drew is focused on a market left behind by JT and may help his chances to reach international growth (food for thought).
    With that all laid out now comes the personal opinion.
    Drew is growing as an artist he’s looking to solidify his place as a pop artist and he makes no bones about it.
    With ‘Feel Alright’ its a step in the right direction from his debut “Get Over You” but its still a hard pill to swallow watching the comical C4 presenter take on a pop career, but stranger things have happened.
    One thing i do find that urks me about Drew is his loss of identity in his music, the presenter that is so widely known comes across far less serious but it seems he has taken a different approach with his music, its sad to see an artist with so much character throw himself into music that has the same expiry date as the milk in my fridge.
    Unfortunately Drew is a poor mans Justin, he lacks the charm and style that the former pop star holds but thats not to say Drew might release a song that oozes his character and finds its place amongst the greats… here’s hoping.

    So to finish up, maybe you guys could start reviewing singles with a little more depth rather than talking about shinny turds. It would make far more sense to issue the artist with a challenge and hope they escape the murky depths of product based music and find themselves at the cross roads selling there souls for the purpose of authenticity.

    Just a thought…

  2. “The wasps in my shed are really bitey and they’ve made a big stinky nest in the corner, but that’s what wasps are supposed to do, and they’ve done a good job of that, so I give them a [8]”

    You’re not allowed to do this any longer please. Wasps suck.

  3. i have never met drew so this is purely made up garbage, but i always imagine he could be quite terrifying in person. like if you pissed him off. he’s got that small-man-rage vibe, but he’s quite good at dancing and therefore martial arts. i also imagine he’s got a sweet poker face, and you can’t tell if he’s kidding or not, joe pesci style, until he smiles and pats you on the back and says “i’m just fuckin with you man!” and then immediately reverts to his blank death face.

  4. KLANE says:

    “why is it that none of you look at the body of work an artist has put out and critique the growth, musicality, history and comparisons of the artist?”

    Context is great, but I always figured the idea was to (hopefully) look simply at the single itself and let those 3’30” be the only real criteria for judgement. If he can sustain those few minutes, then great.

    That said, kinda impossible to review something in a vacuum right? Even if that’s your intention from the get go. It’d be interesting if the tracks were able to be reviewed without any knowledge of the name of the artist (obvs kinda impossible in NZ, but yah) so conscious or subconscious preconceptions wouldn’t play as much of a part.

    Some of the panelists are heavily predisposed towards other kinds of music imo (and that may reflect the readership of The Corner to some degree)… but that’s the beauty of a panel – if you don’t think someone’s opinion is valid for a certain type of music, then concentrate on the discourse of the panelists whose opinions you do value.

  5. Luke Jacobs says:

    I think music like this is IMPOSSIBLE to review in a vacuum especially with a person like this who is/was heavily involved with the NZ pop music scene.

    As a fan of music that is nothing like this, I can still appreciate a really good pop song. I think of unabashed pop music I like. They still write good and interesting songs. Its not about pumping out a product, its about expressing something. Neemia expresses absolutely nothing ‘real’ at all. In 20 years time I doubt he can sing this song with any conviction. I listen to 80s Madonna and I don’t hear anything like this, she’s real and she takes risks. This is the anti-risk. It deserves nothing more than a mild thumbs up.

  6. Missy says:

    With the exception of a couple, the above ‘So called music critics’ spurt nothing more than irrelevant garbage. It’s amazing the clarity that comes with psychotic jealousy. It’s your typical cyber bullying! Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius. Where is the genuine, credible critique, void of hostility here?

    These comments are not about the song, they’re about envy! Those that can, do, those that can’t, ridicule! Unfortunately, tall poppy syndrome is truly alive and festering in New Zealand.

    We just LOVE to hate someone who is successful, or someone attempting to actually give it a go. We get our adrenalin rush from incessant character bashing bordering on hatred. It’s a sad society we live in and a gutless one at that.

    Some of your twitter pages, speak volumes!!! This is NOT a creditable blog…..it’s a JOKE!

    I will now give my valid opinion on this song: Unbiased and objective…….I think it is very commercial and I think it HAS a market and isn’t that what the aim is here? I’m not going to overthink this….I know what I like and I Like it…..end of story.

    I don’t give a monkey’s about whether or not he can sing it in 20 years. Who cares? I like it NOW. Do you think you can concentrate on the task at hand and inject at least an iota of worthy conviction?

    Leave the juvenile jibes for your twitter pages, otherwise go teach Sean Quay how to spell…..that dude is one ‘shinny’ ninny!!

    • Jamesss says:

      incredible, five stars

    • Dan Taipua says:

      Cuts right to the bone of the issue; and then through it (★★★★)

    • George says:

      I think its about issuing a challenge more so than complaining about culture.

      Bringing that “old chestnut” argument about tall poppies, cyber bullying and love/hate relations isn’t really a critique on someones work.
      Its more a rant at those who know full well they aren’t critiquing from a place of jealousy, but a preference towards “other” types of music.

      The sad reality is our NOW culture is what continues to produce mediocrity, our lack of patience to see an artist grow because we look for the next big thing is creating shallow songs of course it could also have something to do with our current cultural disarray.
      It seems music in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s had far more to talk about, but they also had greater events to draw from.
      Maybe its about digging a little deeper and finding artists outside the main media outlets?

      This panelist is a great idea because its got varying arguments, but its also about putting in the work to critique. Again its about challenging these ten to critique fully and give the reader a better understanding of what they think.

  7. There is no denying that Drew has got a whole lot of talent. Whether he is your cup of tea of not (I don’t think he cares), Drew obviously knows who his audience is and those are the people that love it!

    He can sing, he can dance and I know I loved him on TV.

    I think it’s a shame NZers can’t just appreciate the talent and leave it be. Turn it off if it isn’t for you. Don’t make everyone else listen to your spiteful moaning.

  8. Marie Reynolds says:

    No wonder our artists all flee this sarcastic, jealousy riddled country! These negative comments have zero substance and display very little constructive criticism! I believe that he is a talented musician and is doing what he obviously loves, as are you cretins, with your venomous comments, so full of hatred and envy, don’t you have something better, more productive to do with your pathetic lives!! I truly pity you!!

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