Music, Pop Culture

Gene O’s “COOL”

Gene O’s “COOL” lives up to its relatively simple billing, but it’s harder than it looks. Bringing off a mix quasi-Latin rhythms with the classic R&B horn section could end up crashing without fanfare into the mountainside. Gene O, however, obviously began the recording process for this single with a clear idea of what he wanted to accomplish with this song and, as such, there aren’t any audible missteps. It sounds like his new single emerged from his head fully born rather than written and labored over before Gene O committed it to a recording.

The conversational nature of the lyrical content and punchy qualities of the chorus are among the several elements enduring that the song has broad-based appeal. He isn’t a classically gifted vocalist by any measure, you won’t hear any vocal gymnastics during this track, and nor does it demand such moments, but he exudes personality from the outset. It doesn’t bristle listeners, sound strident, or strike an overwrought note. Instead, he navigates cleanly and simply through the arrangement and holds our attention from the beginning. ‘

The recurring brass included in the song doesn’t place any sort of bold exclamation point on the arrangement dwarfing all else. It does not, however, figure into the final tally as one of the song’s chief selling points and Gene O. does an excellent job incorporating it into the overall fabric of the song. He never risks making the horn section omnipresent.

The drums are well-treated within the mix. The distinctly Latino/Caribbean flavor of the drumming has an undoubted swing as well. There’s obvious care taken with orchestrating this song into just the right final result, but he hasn’t fussed over anything to such an excessive degree that the attention drains it of life. “COOL” sparkles with life and draws you deeper into its musical web the longer that the song goes on.

It balances itself well between making a meaningful musical statement, not simply relying on the lowest common denominator musical idea and nothing else, but instead taking aim at engaging both listener’s mind and body. It pulls this off without ever slipping into pretentiousness. It doesn’t make any heavy handed demands on the listener’s time either as the relatively condensed running time of the single gets listeners in and out the door with a minimal amount of fuss.

Gene O has, in the end, given his listeners a first class single that would also work well in the larger scheme of a longer release. He’s an artist as well who, with the proper exposure, could easily find avenues for his music to find a wider audience than he currently knows. There is not any doubt, however, that the new single “COOL” will expand his audience far beyond its current numbers and his upcoming release in the fall will have a similar effect on his commercial fortunes. His artistic fortunes have certainly never burned as brightly as they do now and there’s no sign of them dimming anytime soon.

Cleopatra Patel

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