Because of having the similar fascinating high range vocal, James Durbin was often compared to Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert by the audiences during the competition of American Idol Season 10. In fact, although they both have a rock vocal, James Durbin is more loyal to heavy metal, which during the competition, he often begs to the audiences for “give metal a chance”. Indeed, based on the current music industry, dance music and pop seem to dominate the music markets, heavy metal which was popular in the 70s seems to be difficult to be mainstream nowadays. However, James Durbin still sticks to his beloved music style.
Even though James ended up being the top 4 of the competition, it also happens to be the same position of the other rocker in the history of American Idol, Chris Daughtry, and Chris is one of the Idol alumni who are not the winners that sold more records than the winners. Therefore, maybe it is more than the coincidence for rock-lover James to be at the same spot as Chris. This also makes audiences wonder that whether James can continue or even surpass the glory of “No.4 rocker” by Chris.
James’s first single “Stand Up” was released in the end of September, this rock song prove us that James will stick to his own style. The beginning of the song uses a very heavy-metal style guitar solo, which set up the whole style of the song. Likewise, the high-range vocal that James must show every time in the competition is revealed at the end of the song. Honestly speaking, in rock music, such high notes can really make the songs better. In this song, James’s high vocal can no doubt ignite listeners’ emotion and get crazy with the music.
The second single “Love Me Bad” is a soft rock style song. Slow guitar solo at the very beginning gives the song a heart-break feeling. After repeating “I miss you”, the emotion spurts with the sudden drum beats in the chorus. This also shows the emotional side of James. These two singles also serve as the nice fast-slow appetizer to the debut album Memories of a Beautiful Disaster.
The album was released at November 21st. Before the day of the releasing on AMA red carpet, James said that this album would be whole lot of rock. Indeed, James did not lie. The first song of the album “Higher Than Heaven” is such heavy metal style song. Guitar riff at the very beginning with guitar effect give people a strong energy. Nonstop screaming and the high note at the end of the last chorus gradually push the song to the climax. By just hearing this song, rock fans would not be disappointed to the album. Likewise, another song “Outcast” features the guitarist from heavy metal band Mötley Crüe, Mick Mars. With James’s unique rock vocal, Mick’s guitar solo continuously attacks our eardrum. In the bridge, Mick’s solo pushes the song to the peak. Indeed, as a rock album, it would not be perfect if there is no fascinating guitar solo. At the end, James’s incredible high note ends the song, leaving people to taste it.
However, the second song “All I Want” slows down the atmosphere. Although it is still a rock song, from the arrangement and the melody, it is not a heavy metal but an ordinary alternative rock song. Similarly, “Love In Ruins” and “Right Behind You” follow the same pattern of alternative rock. Even thought they are no as passionate as the first song, clean guitar strum and heavy drum beats are still something you can’t find in current dance music.
Besides, “May” and “Everything Burns” are the few ballads from the album, which also can make the album take a rest from the heavy guitar strum. In addition, these songs also prove that James is not a singer who just screams, when there is a slow emotional song, James can also do it.
Take a look at the whole album, James reduces his high note. Such high note during the competition makes James have the suspicion of showing off. Although such vocal can make the rock songs powerful, it is too much for slow songs. In this album, however, James’ biggest improvement is not to oversing all the songs. Not every song is suitable for screaming, for example, in “May” and “Everything Burns”, James softly sings the songs with piano and acoustic guitar to tell us one another heart-breaking stories. Besides, songs such as “Higher Than Heaven” and “Outcast” need some powerhouse vocal, and James appropriately shows his powerful vocal and high note in proper way.
It is hard to say whether Memories of a Beautiful Disaster can sell well. After all, heavy metal is no longer mainstream in contemporary music industry. However, if you are truly love rock music like James does, it is no need to worry about that. Comparing to that, why not just put this record into the player, and rock with the music.