Blog || The lead single experiment equation

I try my best to not be biased when it comes to singles nor judge an upcoming release based solely on one track. I've come to realize that one song alone, even though it's considered an asset of the album, is not necessarily indicative of the overall outcome. Take A Day To Remember's "What Separates Me From You" for instance. You can have catchy singles and a horrible rather unpleasant album. But then again, you can have singles that sound out of place but blend incredibly well within the album, like Parkway Drive's "Deep Blue". In the first case, we had a band trying to top the success of the previous album -we would be lying if we denied that "Homesick" was the breakthrough to a wider audience for ADTR. In the second, we had a band evolving, still trying to establish a signature sound. I know hardcore fans of both bands would disagree on that, but let me elaborate. To me, like with all things in life, expectation is the root of disappointment. What is the factor that defines if a song is good enough to represent an album? I can identify three of them.

First of all, demographics; what is the target market that we're trying to engage and lure into pre-ordering? Let's break it down to basic (target) group formations. A great female following is less likely to be impressed by a technical or a brutal song; a male following, on the other hand, will be more eager to dismiss a song about lost loves and breakups; a teenage audience will relate better to a rebelious concept or an artist who's deeply in pain, and so on.

Second; what taste did the previous album leave? Does the band have to prove there's a reason they're still around or do they have a legacy to maintainA form of "statement or validation" diptych, if you will. Either way, the pressure is present.The perfect candidate song should gather bits and parts that would intrigue their respective audiences and, ideally, attract new people too (maybe fans of similar artists) by making a memorable first impression. 

Third; what (or who) lies beneath. The enabler; the holy beast; the record label. A single song works as a pre-taste of the album which, if marketed correctly, is set to increase the album sales, digital or physical. What song makes the cut though is basically based on gut. Major labels' executives and marketing teams have the insight and experience to pick what stands out the most; they then use the available project funds to promote it to the set target groups through social media and streaming platforms. The success, of course, is not always guaranteed. What stands out in a versatile album with intended commercial airplay (let's use the ADTR exemple again) is relatively different than an album designed, recorded and marketed to fit a genre with less room for improvisation (any Hatebreed album for instance). 

So, on a recent case and a practical level, why is it that the new Motionless In White track had so much acceptance while Of Mice And Men seems to disappoint the older audience? Both bands belong to major labels and have outstanding following. What makes the differentiation point? I think the answer is simple. MIW has always been honest with their intentions. They established their sound, went on to (successfully, admitedly) experiment a bit with "Reincarnate" and are now returning to their roots; the sort of noise they've proved and they know they're good at making. OMAM on the other hand is still trying to figure out how they're supposed want to sound. They emerged from the metalcore wave, gathered a significant audience and exposure (for the sake of this text we will leave the image/idol factor out of the equation) and played along. "The Flood" is a great showcase of this era. That was the style that suited them the best, even though they were still lacking a trademark sound. The more hype they got, the more they tried to redefine themselves. Enter nu metal influences -and a strong marketing strategy behind "Restoring Force". For people who have loved the old OMAM, having Austin Carlile claim that "the new songs would sound more like reissue of 'The Flood' " was definitely something to aspire to. As soon as "Pain" was released, the reactions were clearly diverging. Fans praised it on Twitter but the comment section on Youtube? That's a different story. On a scale of one to ten, how much Slipknot can you hear in the song? I'd say a good 13. It is true, and I can say that I'm relieved, that the band grew out of the Linkin Park phase. However, it seems odd that people in their late 20s are going through a nu metal period almost fifteen years after this scene declined... OMAM seems like a confused teenager. Could it be lack of inspiration? The band themselves growing out of their original influences? Or are they trying to combine what they'd like to play with what the fans (and the label) might want to hear? At the moment, a big part of the album promotion is based on Austin Carlile's recent health issues and recovery. From my standpoint, the band is indeed in pain but at this point, in all honesty, so is a part of the audience.

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