On Jan. 18, Mike Posner released his third studio album, “A Real Good Kid” on Universal Island Records, falling under the alternative indie genre. The album cradles themes of grief and growth. In 2017, Posner lost his father to brain cancer, lost a friend and fellow collaborator, Avicii, to suicide, as well as his romantic relationship. “A Real Good Kid” is an album that brings many raw emotions, having you consistently reexamine your thoughts, actions and surroundings.
The album begins with an introduction of Posner requesting listeners to play it in one sitting through, without any outside distractions. ￼Posner then politely asks for the listener to play the album at a different time if they cannot. This reinforces seriousness.￼ To younger generations this may be challenging, as they consume media fast with easy access to streaming and scrolling on multiple platforms, they often try to digest too much at once.
After the introduction, Posner says, “People keep asking what happened to me” with “what happened to me” repeated in a whispering tone. This creates an effect that influences listeners to believe they are entering Posner’s thoughts. Posner then pauses and resumes saying, “The answer is this” and cuts the introduction by smoothly sending his listeners into euphoric choral singing on the track “January 11th, 2017,” which is a song about events that occur after his father’s death. “January 11th, 2017” undoubtably places you in these events, such as his father’s funeral.
Throughout the album, Posner plays recordings of his father. These memories bring meaningful cadence and dedication to support the theme that Posner is truly giving you sensitive grief and growth material and trying to fortify how it moves our lives.
The hit single off this album is “Move On” which was released on Jan. 3 with an accompanying music video. In the pre-chorus of “Move On” Posner sings in a sorrowed tone backed by an acoustic guitar and tambourine, giving listeners a slight hint of country root. Posner stresses “beginnings always hide themselves in ends,” and that life is short.
In the music video, Posner speaks about the ups and downs he’s experienced since his 2016 hit, “I Took A Pill In Ibiza.”
“I got high when I met you / I got high to forget you / I feel pain, I don’t want to / But I have to, yeah, I have to,” Posner sings.
This line is simple and soft, yet powerful, due to Posner’s clear connection he makes to his song where he sings about things that make him “cool,” like getting high with his friend Avicii. Avicii struggled with addiction and depression and ended his life April 20, 2018.
In the song, Posner states that although he may want to choose alternatives that mask his emotions, he must face them eventually, if he truly wants to move on.
When the chorus hits, Posner transitions into a bright and confident tone, singing
“If I wanna move on” now backed by guitar, tambourine, bass and complementing drum kits.
In verse one and two, Posner seeks advice and knowledge, but ultimately has to understand that not everything in life can be fixed or flawless when desired. Posner wants listeners to remind themselves, “At some point, I will be okay.”
Posner’s song “Drip” is the second take away of this album. “Drip” is a track split into two parts, each with their own structure.
In part one’s chorus, backed by acoustic guitar, Posner melodically sings “I know who you are when no one’s looking / Just by looking at your face.” Posner speaks about Avicii’s suicide and his attempt to mask his depression through constantly producing music and touring. Posner portrays this in part one’s post chorus and bridge, where he switches the song into an electric jam with electronic vocals that say, “I’m liberated” and “Our freedom never felt so jammin’ baby.” These lines symbolize Avicii’s happiness and legacy in the electronic dance music community.
In part two’s chorus, Posner depicts tear drops dripping through singing and guitar plucks. Posner’s take away lines from this chorus are, “Your eyes, your lies, are gorgeous.”
Posner is trying to explain that Avicii did what made him feel free, but did not know how to properly manage his life outside of the music. He didn’t know how to handle his depression, or ask for help. Posner is saying Avicii was a beautiful, bright, creative person but hid his inner struggles that ultimately lead to his suicide.
After part two’s chorus, the song enters an interlude, where Posner emotionally breaks down. You can hear his voice escalate from soft spoken words to sharp cursed shouts. The interlude stands as an outcome of raw grief where Posner states that he’s a 35-year-old multimillionaire, that everything is supposed to be all good, but it’s not. Posner is facing denial and portrays it powerfully. Posner ends the interlude with “Let ‘em fall,” referring to tears, shows he wants to accept what he doesn’t understand, even though it hurts.
In “Wide Open” Posner expresses his desire to understand life. Although the process and outcome may be uncertain, he is “wide open.”
“Somebody told me God is simply what we don’t know / Saw a butterfly, it was dead, but it was gorgeous / And all the robots are just walkin’ down the sidewalk / Kings and their little empires that they made up.”
From the death of a butterfly to a society of emotionless humans robots, Posner wants you to enjoy life as much as you can and to try your best to be wide open to change.
“A Real Good Kid” is an album that reminds listeners that we all make mistakes and that it’s okay to grieve when losing someone but, to not lose yourself in the process. Artists like Posner help our society become more conscious about mental health through sharing personal stories via songs while implementing different emotions through various genres.