Vocalists these days don’t seem to have the swagger I came to expect from straight up stage stealers like Michael Jackson and Pete Burns. You might think I’m talking about how they look on stage, and you wouldn’t be totally wrong there – have you seen how awkward The Weeknd (this decade’s supposed response to Michael Jackson) looks trying to channel his idol? But the swagger I’m talking about is the kind you can hear in their voice. Every note they sang had an edge to it and a dramatic feel that made their music so much more captivating.
You just don’t find that sound in the mainstream anymore (maybe Lorde is the exception?), but it’s apparently been hiding in the underground with a serious talent in Highschool Jacob. His new single “E Flat” finds him singing with a variety of inflections and approaches that only an ultra confident vocalist could pull off, going from understated to show-stopping within milliseconds. The instrumentals are the cherry on top here as they go the route of gorgeous, modern indie-pop with as much nuance as Jacob’s vocals. I’m not sure if his dancing skills match those of seminal ’80s icons, but he damn sure has the vocal chops to rival the best of them!