Alternative Rock, 2004
I have a fondness for men that sing in falsettos. I don’t know why: where some people see these falsetto-warbling men as a sign of emasculation, I think it’s sexy as heck that a man can sound as if he is so choked up by emotions that his voice cracks. A-ha’s Take on Me is pure genius in my book. I never liked Ryan Adams until he shrieks his way into my heart with that fabulously falsetto-friendly Alive.
John Ondrasik, who goes by Five for Fighting, should be a man after my heart: he has a voice that is perfect for falsettos – not painful falsettos, but a falsetto that soars easily over the highest notes with grace and ease. He can easily switch from his normal octave to a heavenly falsetto in a blink of an eye with a transition that feels so natural.
The Battle for Everything, his follow-up to America Town and that “Superman song”, is unfortunately a somber CD that has no distinguishing hook or melody whatsoever. The tracks here sound very similar after a while, and with only one song 100 Years standing out as a track that doesn’t feel like a filler, this CD is a dull, dry, and staid affair. The only moment of (unintentional) humor comes from the track One More for Love, which is so cheesy that I’m not surprised if they are making a Broadway musical out of this unnecessarily overwrought song.
Lyrically, the songs of this CD are as deep as typical songs by other male singers like John Mayer and the increasingly de-blued Jonny Lang who sing mild-rock tunes catered to swooning college-age girls too hardcore for matchbox twenty but too yuppie-fied for the White Stripes. Mr Ondrasik lacks the gormless looks of those men to appeal to the demographics, however, so he’s stuck in the limbo with the likes of Counting Crowes and the Dave Matthews Band. Unless he comes out with something that is more listenable than this utterly dull CD, he will miss out on what seems like the expected new trend that will replace mainstream R&B and rap in the next year or so.