Celebrities are often painted in a fantastical light. When this happens it gives off the impression that their lifestyle is something that everyone should aspire to. It is only upon closer examination or when a tragedy occurs that we realize that, while fame and fortune have its benefits, there’s also a darkness that can rear its ugly head if not careful. One of the newest signees to Darkroom/Interscope Records, Oliver Malcolm, explores this concept in his new single, “Outside.”
The track begins with the fingerpicking of acoustic guitar, which creates the initial heavy-hearted tone of the song before Malcolm’s vocals come into play. A few seconds before he starts to sing you can hear him take a deep breath, indicating the heavy weight of the lyrics soon to follow. As his vocal is introduced the raspiness of his voice serves in direct contrast to the cleanness of the guitar, creating a pleasing dynamic. He sings, “Oh, it may seem cool from the outside / But this is a crazy life / All my favorite entertainers / Got famous and then they died.” Malcolm explains, “At the time of writing ‘Outside’ I was watching a lot of old documentaries on music and legends of the past… The common theme which threaded through the different stories was that of a twisted, dark side of fame which the artists happened to find themselves in.”
As we reach the chorus Malcolm delves further into the darkness as he sings, “Cause I thought this life was for me / But it might not be after all / I’m hopeless / Hopeless.” While he may not currently be quite as famous as the musicians he’s referring to, Malcolm is able to relate to the feeling of loneliness that many people feel, regardless of their line of work. Eventually, he gets to the root of how the loneliness can cause someone to spiral during the last two lines of the second verse, “Ain’t no one there to cheer you on / Just you and your twisted mind.” During the outro we hear a recording of a conversation, from what we can assume is Malcolm and a fellow collaborator.
Overall, “Outside” is a multi-layered record that explores the validity of one’s emotions through the path of stardom. The self-awareness shown through Malcom’s bold and intimate songwriting provides a safe haven for listeners to join him in this introspective journey.
Feature image by Kay Ibrahim
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