Live Like We’re Dying Is the Best Debut Single ever by an American Idol Winner
Live Like We’re Dying, although a cover (nothing unusual about that; that's the purpose of demos) is a masterful composition; very well-written; very well constructed. I heard the song a couple days ago and can't get it out of my head; great hook, very catchy. Unfortunately, Kris is awash in a backlash as a result of winning AI. That’s unfortunate. Many of his detractors will miss out on what is without doubt the most cerebral and clever song ever recorded by an American Idol winner. I never expected such a wise choice from Kris. The fact that he’s clearly willing to risk losing the millions of fans he earned in a hard fought competition with Adam Lambert to follow an artistic vision is very courageous and financially risky. If this song does not receive sufficient radio play to generate sales could actually jeopardize his entire music career. If this song doesn’t perform to expectation, it will certainly interfere and decelerate album sales in November, and Jive will almost certainly drop him.
While I love this song and admire what he’s trying to do, I would have advised him to take the money; at least for the time being, before pursuing his artistic vision. Opportunities like his are rare. All he had to do to rake in money was play a part; embrace the sex symbol, teen idol image for a few years; just long enough to maximize his financial rewards. There are far worse things than being a pop idol. After securing his financial future, he could then change musical direction. My way allows him to become financially secure now AND pursue his artistic vision later. Kris has chosen a very bold and risky path. This song will not appeal to the tween/teen fan girl base that worked so hard to win him the title of American Idol. The song is simply too adult; too good; too message oriented. 19 Entertainment is a very successful enterprise, a bussiness savvy group, so lets hope they did their homework. Nonetheless, it is highly unusual for a budding artist to reject a fan base of any kind; especially one that was hand-delivered on national television. I expected Kris to play the game; to repay his loyal fans with music they could enjoy and relate to; something light-hearted, slick, playful, and sexy; e.g. the Jonas Brothers. The prudent thing to do was thank them with at least one smooth, cool, teen-oriented love song. They deserve that much.
Not only is it unusual for an artist to ignore a fan base, it is even more unusual for a budding young singer to successfully replace one fan base with another in a short period of time; a feat that usually takes years to complete. Building a fan base is a very slow process. Since 19 Entertainment exists to make money, I will also assume that Kris, who truthfully was never comfortable with sex and teen idol image, retained some artistic control over his music. What else explains this song choice? I can’t believe 19 Entertainment encouraged this. I can only guess Kris was able to convince management to support his aggressive, bold, and financially risky career gamble.
Generally, when a singer completes an album, his management team (back in the day, we called them A&R reps) picks a single they believe will receive radio play and bolster upcoming album sales. Unlike No Boundaries, Kara’s shamelessly dull and unoriginal collection of platitudes, Live Like We’re Dying is an intelligent composition. But is it commercial? The odds are against it. Can you name a song in the top ten (or top twenty) of Billboard’s Top 100 Pop Chart that sounds like this one? I can’t. That doesn't mean it won't succeed. The song is tailor made for Adult Contemporary and/or Country genres. It’s too early to predict sales numbers but early tracking data, while okay, is not bullish. Hopefully, his A&R team will get behind this, bolster interest (they know how); and work hard to get it on main stream radio; give it the attention it clearly deserves. As I said before, Live Like We’re Dying is a masterful composition.
I had fun with Kris last season; my favorite targets were his pretty boy image and his lack of artistry. It’s a good thing I like the taste of crow because I’m eating lots of it. He’s working hard to be the best artist he can be. What he's doing, while unusual, is not unheard of. John Mayer and Bruce Springsteen did the same thing early on. They refused to play the sex card in favor of art. Eventually both gained the respect of their peers, fame, fortune, and somewhere along the way, still managed to become bona fide sex symbols. Time will reveal the wisdom of Kris choices. I keep saying it because I find it hard to believe. I admire his courage and conviction. Even if this decision proves the right one and he cements himself a genuine artist, at what cost? His music career will likely prove artistically satisfying. It better be, because this career move could cost him millions.