Thursday, June 25, 2020

Bryan, not Ryan, Adams

Marco Maas / CC BY (

I rarely admit to being a fan (fanatic) of anyone. It dates back to my adolescent years. Engaging in hero-worship inevitably ends up in disappointment because people are humans and their imperfections are always eventually revealed. But in the musical sense there are some people whose work I have always liked to near that point. Some songs are better than others but I consistently like everything at least to a degree. One of these is the Canadian singer/songwriter Bryan Adams.

Bryan was one of the earliest rock stars that I would unapologetically state that I liked. Prior to that, there were very few non-christian recording artists that I would admit to liking. Still love his music.

If I had to criticize it in any way, then Bryan Adams tends to be derivative, however I have always perceived this as much as tribute, or simple affection for the style, as copycat behavior. Every artist is influenced by previous artists anyway so to me, it's ok to imitate another artist's style as long as you don't infringe copyright.

There are elements of Beatles songs in "This Time," Rolling Stones in many of his songs, Blue Oyster Cult in another huge hit "Run to You," and probably some others that I'm not thinking of right now. His sense of melody is wonderful, and in just a few years in the early to mid 1980s he wrote or co-wrote numerous hits both for himself and other artists, including Joe Cocker, .38 Special, Roger Daltry, and the Canadian band Glass Tiger. He charted additional hits in the 1990s and even wrote a hit for one of the Spice Girls in the early 2000s for her solo album.

Bryan Adams wrote so many hits that he gave away some that he merely thought didn't have the right characteristics for his personal material or sound. Although most of his songs have co-writing credits for others, these were typically producers he was contracted to. They really just arrange music but the co-writing credit is a way for producers to make money from their efforts.

Ironically, my favorite album of his has long been Into the Fire, which has a very different sound. Unfortunately it wasn't as well received as his more guitar-pop oriented albums and he went back to making pop music (and had several more huge hits).

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