Sunday, November 25, 2018

Weekend Diverison: George Ezra

It doesn’t happen all that often, but sometimes I’ll hear a pop song and then when I see the singer, I’m surprised because they look nothing like I was expecting. British singer-songwriter George Ezra is a perfect example of that.

The first song I ever heard by George Ezra was 2013’s “Budapest” (above), which was his first hit. It was pretty much everywhere when it came out, because it was a big hit: Number One in New Zealand (2x Platinum), Number 5 in Australia (3x Platinum), Number 24 in Canada (3x Platinum), Number 3 in the UK (3x Platinum), and Number 32 in the USA (Platinum). The song sounded very different from anything else at the time, partly because of the song structure and lyrics, but especially because of George’s bass-baritone voice. The video has been viewed some 140 million times on YouTube.

I was surprised the first time I saw him on TV (I think it was The Graham Norton Show). I was expecting someone older, probably bigger, not a 21-year-old average-sized guy. I wondered what he would do next, where that voice would take him.

His next hit, in 2014, was “Blame It On Me”:

“Blame It On Me” hit Number 8 in New Zealand (Gold), Number 10 in Australia (Platinum), and Number 6 in the UK (Platinum). It didn’t chart in either Canada or the USA. I liked the song, and was interested that in some ways it was more conventionally pop-oriented than “Budapest” had been.

“Budapest” and “Blame It On Me” are both from George’s debut album, Wanted on Voyage, which was released on January 27, 2015. The album hit Number 4 in New Zealand (Platinum), Number 4 in Australia (Platinum), Number 19 in Canada (Platinum), Number 1 in the UK (4x Platinum), and Number 19 on the Billboard 200 (Gold).

It was a long time between drinks, and it wasn’t until this year that he had another hit with “Shotgun”:

I first saw the video for “Shotgun” (around 110 million YouTube views) on our free-to-air video music channel, and to be completely honest, at first I wasn’t taken with it. But that chorus is so damn infectious that it now just pops into my head every now and then. It’s one of those songs that’s grown on me over time. Plenty of other people liked it, to: The song hit Number One in New Zealand (Platinum), Number One in Australia (3x Platinum), Number One in the UK (2x Platinum). It only hit 100 in Canada and didn’t chart in the USA, but it was nevertheless his most successful single so far.

His fourth most successful single was “Paradise”, which was actually released before “Shotgun”, on January 19, 2018, and the YouTube video a week later [WATCH/LISTEN]. It only charted in five countries, the UK the only one I regularly write about (it hit Number 5 there and went Platinum). I don’t particularly care for that song. He also performed it live on The Graham Norton Show in February of this year. I watched that episode.

His most recent single is called “Hold My Girl” and was released as a single and YouTube video [WATCH/LISTEN] on September 28. It’s only charted in the UK and Ireland (Number 33 and 78 respectively). Although apparently one critic felt the song was “destined to become first-dance material”, I wasn’t feeling it.

“Parade”, “Shotgun” and “Hold My Girl” are all from his second album, Staying at Tamara’s, which was released March 23, 2018. The album hit Number 7 in New Zealand (Gold), Number 7 in Australia, Number 22 in Canada, Number 1 in the UK (Platinum), and Number 68 in the USA.

Because I like to include four videos in these Weekend Diversion posts, I decided that if I had to pick one of his less successful songs, I may as well pick one with a fun video. So, “Listen to the Man”:

The song was released on October 28, 2014, and I saw the video on our free-to-air music video channel some time later, and thought it was fun. It features Sir Ian McKellen who is so into his part that it’s infectious. I also think the song is nice, though most people didn’t agree with me on that: Among countries I write about regularly, it only charted in the UK where it hit Number 41 and went Gold. Oh, well.

George has a particular sound, putting aside the specifics of individual songs, and he won’t appeal to everyone. But his career so far has shown that he can put out very popular songs, and some good ones that aren’t as popular. I have no idea what that says about his future, but it may suggest he’ll be around while. After all, he’s only 25.

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