How are you all doing today?
Today we close the J’s series – my favorite singers with the name starting with J – and I am afraid there are no girls making the top 5 on my list. But they will show up here eventually, just not on this series.
Well, the guy from today is another British (what a surprise!!) and yes, he is definitely the youngest to make the list. He signed his first contract after a fan uploaded a video to YouTube of him performing at an open mic in London and a week later he signed up with Republic Records A&R, releasing his first EP, The Dark of The Morning (2013) and in a year time selling out his first UK headline tour.
If you thought of singer-songwriter and guitarist James Bay, you most likely got it right!
His second EP, Let It Go (2014) debuted in the top 10 iTunes album chart, having the lead single Let It Go peaked at #10 in the UK charts.
For his first studio album, Chaos And The Calm (2015), Bay released the single Hold Back The River before releasing the album and the song peaked at #2 in the UK chart and has been certified 2x platinum; the album debuted at #1 in the UK and #15 in the US, being certified 2x platinum.
He received the 2016 Brit Awards for Best British Male Solo Artist and he received three nominations at the 2016 Grammy Awards – Best New Artist, Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song.
The single Wild Love for his next studio album Eletric Light (to be released in May 18, but available to pre-order here: https://JamesBay.lnk.to/ElectricLightYD) has been uploaded to YouTube on February 19 and has over 5m views to this date and, although most of his fans are happy about his return to the music scene and all the changes (calling it evolving but I have a different name for what is happening to him), some, like me, are a bit disappointed with how his music is sounding much more commercial now and less heart. The comment of this girl says a lot about my own feelings towards this new song (but she wrote it very well for me to try myself):
“Found James (Bay) on SoundCloud five years ago. My favorite song of his was Stealing Cars. Move Together, Need the Sun to Break, When We Were on Fire – all incredible tracks. I couldn’t get enough of him. His fiery passion in the way that he sings, the depth and realism of his lyrics, ugh, it was fucking perfect. Let It Go and Hold Back the River were perfect transition tracks for his rising pop stardom. This shit? Way too fucking far. What the actual fuck, James? I HATE when people bitch about artists “selling out,” “changing their sound,” “going pop,” etc. Hate it. Because most of the time that hate isn’t warranted; most of the time, those artists’ core still shines through despite the changes. This? Nah. I don’t fucking think so. Of course, that’s just my take on it. I don’t feel James’ heart in this. This is not the James Bay I’ve known and loved. People are allowed to change, because that’s what people do. But there’s growing, changing, shifting, evolving into a new person – and then there’s (you guessed it) selling the fuck out. Maybe the music itself isn’t bad. But it sure as fuck leaves a bad taste in my mouth. What the fuck happened to you? (Katie Martin, youtube comment)
“I don’t feel James’ heart in this. This is not the James Bay I’ve known and loved. People are allowed to change, because that’s what people do. But there’s growing, changing, shifting, evolving into a new person – and then there’s selling the fuck out.”
Name: James Michael Bay
Born: September 4, 1990 (27y)
Occupation: Singer, songwriter and guitarist
Musical Genres: Rock, pop, soul
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, piano, drums
Years Active: 2013 – present
Biggest Hits: Let It Go and Hold Back The River
Relationship: Lucy Smith (girlfriend since teenager days)
In 11 March he released the second single of the album – you can check the live version released here – and weeks later he released the official video for Pink Lemonade (just this name makes me shiver) and I read many comments on YouTube and the question that remains is: what the hell happened to James Bay? I mean, we all understand evolving and all that but you can evolve keeping being truth to yourself; some people are defending the fact that he gave some interviews saying he wasn’t being himself before, but, come on: he has been doing that music for his whole life and was lying all that time and now, suddenly, he’s seen the light? Unfortunately, not all of us are buying that.
I got tickets to go to his concert with the Chaos And The Calm Tour – yes, he is my two out of 5 on the J’s list! – and it was a little disappointing for me to see him live; I sang all the songs (obviously!) and I enjoyed every bit of my Christmas gift (the concert was in March but I got it for Christmas!) but I found him already too distant from his music – great singer, not a lot of emotions happening, thou; I even commented afterwards with friends that I found him a bit of a star and that, when the artist starts acting like he is all that, breaks the intimacy and emotions with the songs and the public and that is how I felt.
I hope the album brings more of the James I fell in love with and not another commercial singer because what had set him apart from the mass was his soul and heart on his music. Now it is a matter of wait and see. And I know he is a very talented young guy but it is easy to be swallowed by bright shiny lights these days.
Anyways, he is still one of my favorite J’s and I hope you find his first album as touchy and soulful as I do.
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See you next time,