Perhaps in tacit, public response to several years of four-on-the-floor indoctrination, 2013 and 2014 have seen ballads become some of the most unavoidable mega-hits. Rihanna’s “Stay,” Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man,” John Legend’s “All Of Me,” and Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” all cut through a recent past dominated by big, obvious beats to top the charts by playing, at least in part, to a widespread hunger for organic sounds and traditional song craft.
While we’re not quite ripe for a full-blown ballad takeover, it does feel like there is an increased demand for stripped down, emotionally honest songs in the pop world. Of course, there’s always room to tweak the formula as well.
Singer/producer TOTEM’s “Wildfire” feels like a window into a possible pop trajectory, prettily sparse, stripped to a distorted electric piano and vocal (before building to something only slightly more produced). Its restraint warrants leaning in, close listens not usually associated with Top 40 radio.
Here’s to hoping the popular landscape keeps shifting and inspiring songs like “Wildfire.”