Electro-pop artist Owl City is Adam Young, and in his single he collaborates with CCM pop star Britt Nicole to bring us the inspirational, feel-good tune “You’re Not Alone.” The duet between these artists is an anomaly in itself; Young is one of the big names in the dance/electro genre which has risen in popularity over the past few years. Owl City found success before it took off, and due to this, he has landmarked the transition to the unique sound, both in the Christian and secular music industries.
On the other hand, Britt Nicole is a pop princess with a voice to take down the house. She possesses a beautiful and unique tone, allowing her to deliver a powerful pop/rock tune or a moving ballad. Separately, both artists are talented and accomplished in their genres. Put the two together, and we find ourselves straddling the best of both worlds. Idealistically, this could be brilliant. But in “You’re Not Alone” we are given a rather melancholy and substandard tune, that neither commits to the electro or pop genre the artists are known for.
Opening with a simple piano melody, Young’s distinctive vocals deliver a message of hope and promise in God. Back beats and synth are progressively added in, and Nicole joins the chorus. It is catchy and simple, but sadly the lyrics are quite cliché. Phrases like, “I’m lost without you, I’ll never doubt you,” and “You smile when you hear my prayer,” permeate the song and make it sound quite generic. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christian music, but these lyrics are predictable to the point where you could mistake them for any other song on your local religious radio station.
The highlight of this track comes in the bridge and chorus break down. Britt Nicole’s vocals have a chance to soar, and Owl City harmonizes beautifully before a simple backbeat powers home the message of the song. My criticism of this song is not about the artists or their vocal abilities. You hear shades of their brilliance dotted through the single, but as it fails to turn into one of Owl City’s epic pop tracks akin to “Fireflies” or Britt Nicole’s empowering anthems like, “Good Day,” it leaves you feeling neither here nor there about the quality of the tune.
Both artists have their individuality and talent sacrificed for the generic tone that seems to celebrate the fact two Christian musicians are singing together. Furthermore, while I can appreciate the lyrical intent and the truth behind the words, they sound like every other typical CCM song out there, and so appears to lack sincerity. If this tune had been created in the style of Owl City’s usual work, it could have been a fun, meaningful and quirky take on the promises of God. And if Nicole had molded it for her usual style, we would be given an emotional and powerful ballad. Instead, their talent appears to be overshadowed by a marketing opportunity.
If you are after a poignant and catchy tune about God’s love, I’d encourage you to instead listen to some of Owl City or Britt Nicole’s individual work. While “You’re Not Alone” has the potential to be great, their talent is tainted by the non-committal content. That beings said, I would love to see what these two could create together if they were given the space and time to stretch their wings and really embrace their artistry, rather than to create what sounds like market driven content.