The guys in Emblem3 aren’t like the other guys.
Until they are.
In less than a year’s time, the Southern-California-based trio of Washington-state natives has gone from finishing fourth on the U.S. edition of “The X Factor” to landing the opening spot on Selena Gomez’s upcoming tour, getting nominated for a 2013 Teen Choice Award and releasing their debut, “Nothing to Lose.”
Not bad for brothers Wesley and Keaton Stromberg and their long-time friend Drew Chadwick, who come across as an alternative to boy bands as well as a poor man’s version of a boy band as well as a straight-up boy band.
At its best, “Nothing to Lose” celebrates the American dream as these young men (ages 17 to 20) identify a demand (songs for boy-crazy girls recorded by seemingly girl-crazy boys) and offer a supply. At its worst, it exposes the disservice that network talent shows are doing to the music industry, and the competitors themselves, by giving a national platform to performers before they’re ready to be stars, potentially undercutting their careers instead of boosting them.
Emblem3 performs "Chloe (You're the One I Want)"
Thanks to producer Savan Kotecha (One Direction, Maroon 5, Usher), “Nothing to Lose” gives Emblem3 enough juice to succeed and carry on. There are legitimately good cuts here – the earthy, surf-rock flavored “Just for One Day” (which owes a little to David Bowie’s “Heroes”), and the tenacious “Girl Next Door” with its bold wall-of-sound production, fine singing and monster hook. And there are cut-and-paste songs whose formula goes over well with the mass market, like the “I believe in you”-messaged “Chloe (You’re the One I Want)” and the bossy anthem/pasta romanticizing “Spaghetti.”
Then there’s the forgettable stuff, nondescript filler songs that occupy the spaces between the memorable ones. At least only a few of them are aggressively bad (the mundane “Teenage Kings” and the double-flop of California-themed “I Love LA” and “Sunset Blvd”).
And although the act is undercooked, there does seem to be a lot happening under the surface as the group toys with reggae lilts, rock bluster, pop confections and light rap. Plus they get some songwriting credits, which is a positive sign.
So unlike other boy bands, Emblem3 goes more than one direction.
Unfortunately, that sometimes takes them down dead ends.
Rating: 2.5 stars (out of five)
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!