Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad: Lizzie Marvelly ‘Generation Young’

Lizzy Marvelly

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 to see reviewed next time around.

[YouTube / iTunes]

[Grade: 3.9]

Robyn Gallagher: So, this is interesting. Classical singer Elizabeth Marvelly realises her heart isn’t in being wheeled out to sing the national anthem at rugby games and reinvents herself as Lizzie Marvelly, pop singer. She still sounds like a classically trained singer – it’s like she knows too much about proper singing technique to have that wild pop sound. The song itself sounds like an Australian X Factor winner’s single. Sonically and lyrically it’s reminiscent of Sara Bareilles’ ‘Brave’, with the plinky piano and uplifting lyrics – but that’s all kinda trendy in pop right now, anyway. And the “young” theme of the lyrics – that’s like a throwback to the early 2010s when “young” songs were all over the charts. It’s not a terrible song (except for the drama lyric “We’re tearing doooown the prison waaaalls” – WTF?), but it just sounds like something written as a calculated attempt at a contemporary pop song, a patchwork of what songs got radio play in 2013. [4]

Sean Quay: Great. Another youth anthem that’s about as fresh and new as Peter Dunne’s wardrobe. The principal problem with ‘Generation Young’ is not the style but that it is so badly done. The lyrics possess a level of blatant meaninglessness so severe that it’s as if Moss Bioletti himself wrote them. Does Marvelly even know what a federation is? This is, in fact, terrifyingly bland and generic. [0]

Gavin Coughlan: John Key has described Lizzie Marvelly as ‘a national treasure’, which, on the basis of this song, might be jumping the gun a little.

The video is populated with downtrodden white kids carrying balloons proclaiming themselves to be ‘disowned’, ‘isolated’ and ‘blamed’, rather then ‘comfortable’ and ‘actually quite privileged compared to 95% of the people on the planet’. Oh, and there is a sullen homeless kid who is ‘invisible’, except to the girl who mocks him by giving him an old teddy bear rather than glue money.

Lizzie prompts us to stand up and ‘be the federation of the sun’ as ‘a revolution has just begun’, I assume ‘revolution’ is a new social networking site, which explains why it’s only parents and creepy old guys left on Facebook as ‘generation young’ is off sharing selfies in a much cooler space.

The song; it’s poppy, has a catchy chorus, may be a local hit, and possibly even replace one of the six songs Lorde currently has in the NZ singles top 20. I shall avoid it like the plague. [3]

Andrew B. White: Lizzie has made the transition from ‘popera singer’ to ‘pop singer’. Changing genres is often a hard thing to do with many considerations to take into account – the reaction of existing fans, breaking in to new markets and whether the artist can find the right team of people to make the transition work. The Miley Cyrus’ of the world go for shock-tactics while others try a less abrasive approach which doesn’t always get them the headlines they need to make an effect.

Based on this song, Marvelly seems to have done everything the right way musically for her new direction. I’m not exactly sure who the songwriters and production team are but they have nailed down a great sounding slice of well-produced, ‘feel good’ A/C-pop. There’s something here that reminds me of Celine Dion’s rousing ‘Where Does My Heart Beat Now?’ in the way that the song builds. Moving on there’s a nicely done bridge and then a spotlight a cappella – Marvelly’s voice is powerful, sits in the right place and sounds perfect for this type of pop music.

The song along with the accompanying music video is definitely a ‘warm fuzzy/empowering’ type of song making people feel positive about themselves and the world at large. It could easily be the theme song for some kind of charity group or cause; definitely the type thing people here at The Corner love to rip to shreds lol. The only thing that I would have like to have heard in this song is a killer key change for the last chorus – producers take note. [8]

Stephen Clover: Marvelly has a track-record of doing this sort of thing but I was concerned that repeat listening to ‘Generation Young’ failed to reveal to me its clearly heartfelt message. A balloon with “Shamed” printed on it made me wonder if there was a sexual-politics theme. Or drugs — an “invisble” street-kid can’t “eat” a teddybear but perhaps he can hide his stash in it? Eventually I became distracted, trying to work out how YouTube’s algorithms picked the related videos: 25 Worst Animal Attacks In Recent Memory; Faith No More “Angel Dust”; Westlife: Love Can Build A Bridge; Top 10 Best National Anthems in the World; Air Crash Investigation 2013; Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby. So many thoughts.. [3]

Luke Jacobs: Oh dear how to approach this one. Look, I like the message – it’s positive and affirmative – but the sound is so lacklustre it really doesn’t inspire me. It sounds a bit like a song I would have sung at youth group when I still liked church, except without the Jesus parts.

She does possess talent however but I wonder if this song would have gotten the funding it did if she were not connected to the Morrison family. To reiterate, she can sing – I digged up some of her operatic singing, and I appreciate that she is learning this process, but it seems awfully rough and it’s amazing it got through the NZ On Air selection process. The song is pretty simple and really does not push any boundaries. It feels tame compared to some of the best pop music today. If she gets to work with some better producers then maybe she can make an impression on the New Zealand music scene. [4]

Nick Raven: Opening pulsating synths and drums signal a heavenly pop effort. I’m not disappointed. Or should I be? Its quite good. Lots of catchy choruses to caress my ears and a strong vocal performance. However the sounds are very stock standard and I’m not going to be listening to this in my spare time. I usually like pop music much more once its out of date. So ask me again in five years and I might say something more. [6]

Vincent Michaelsen: I not sure what the “federation of the sun” is or what they do, but I guess I can see how it’s supposed to sound inspirational and in a way I’m a little jealous of people who can get swept up in this ‘generation young’ thing. I’m not going to bag this as it’s an all round solid and catchy track and sounds by no means amateur, but on the grand scale of one-to-ten it’s simply to thin to push past a [4]

Oliver Carle: I have no problem with Lizzie Marvelly as a person and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the music, but I don’t think I am being hyperbolic when I say these are some of the most asinine lyrics I’ve heard in a while. Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ is four years old now and perhaps it really is high time someone wrote a new song to make teenagers feel like they aren’t totally useless; Lizzie Marvelly certainly seems to think so and has given it her best shot. She sings about standing up and fighting for things and believing in yourself and joining a counter government movement known as “The Federation Of The Sun”. Much like Hitler, she is targeting youth as a key demographic and is marketing herself as a leader ‘of the people, for the people’. She also brazenly divulges her next move: “breaking down the prison walls” (sic) of Rimutaka Correctional Facility to fill the ranks of her military junta and, in all likelihood, march on the Beehive. Does her megalomania know no bounds? In the music video for this song she joins her serfs in an ominous rite of staring directly into the sun, the purpose of this is yet to be seen but I suspect that we will find out soon enough. [3]


  1. I am forming a youth cult called the Federation of the Sun.

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