Eccentric synth sounds, head-turning melodies, and catchy lyrics describe the three-piece band, AJR. Brothers Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met began playing in 2005 in New York City busking the streets until they could afford to buy instruments and recording equipment. From there, the band began writing, recording, and producing from their living room so that their sound and lyrics were honest and authentic. They often talk about how they strive to make their music original, and at-home production gives them a better chance to talk about popular topics in a different way than traditional pop songs.
In 2017 the band’s second album, “The Click,” was released. Their single “Weak” took the 27th position on the Mainstream Top 40. The band is currently on the second installation of “The Click Tour.” The brothers of AJR are creative entrepreneurs whose EDM-style drops and intriguing lyrics create a refreshing sound as expressed in “Three-Thirty.”
The summary of “Three-Thirty” is simple: AJR has much to say, and little time to do it without the fear of listeners hitting skip. Three minutes and thirty seconds is the ideal length of songs for radio play, which sparked the idea for the title. They realize that their music has more of an opportunity to be played if they have fewer lyrics, shorter lengths, and more EDM-style drops. But that isn’t their artistic direction.
Jack, the lead singer, explains, “You start thinking ‘bout the clock ticks / You get nervous, you start stressin’,” referring to their looming fear of not being able to produce a song that keeps listeners paying attention. Before this, in the first verse, he says, “If I ever started rapping / They’d be laughing, they won’t believe me / But, I got so much I wanna say, so / I’m thinking rappers, they got it easy.”
The music industry, radio stations, and critics like to fit bands in a genre. The genre becomes the measure in deciding if a song plays on a particular radio station or not. The group is saying because of their music style, rapping will not be taken seriously, and people probably won’t listen. They struggle with the idea of slowing down and choosing lyrics in that smaller amount of time.
Why is it a “Must Listen?”
The first time I heard AJR, I was confused. Not because their music or lyrics are confusing, but because their songs are unique for pop. In their two studio albums, they have SpongeBob overdubbing, yodeling, a song dedicated to the show The Office, and plenty of vocal splices that keep you guessing. I became a fan after listening to “Three-Thirty” because of their genuine lyrics and creative melody.
According to Adam Met, the song acknowledges that this generation is “schizophrenic in its likes and dislikes,” and people change their mind often: “Listen to my aching heart / Quick, before you skip the song / We are human after all / And we don’t stay for long.” These lyrics relay the truth that humans have short attention spans, so length and wordiness might not keep everyone attentive. But, they have ideas to share and hope people won’t write them off for their musical difference.
One of my favorite lines in the song is the outro, “If Ed Sheeran writes my songs / I’ll finally top the charts.” Hilarious, but real. They realize it’s about who you know, especially if who you know is already famous. So, maybe if these lyrics came from Sheeran’s brain, this song might not be skipped? Interesting.
I highly encourage you to listen to this band. Their music is engrossing and I promise it will not make you want to hit skip.
[Photo Courtesy of Mile High Feedback]