Darren Criss Debuts New Music on Solo Tour Kickoff: Video + Song Reviews
Darren Criss' much-anticipated first solo tour kicked off last night (May 29) at The Fillmore in San Francisco to fans screaming and singing along -- for the most part. While characteristically a Criss show features fans who know every word of every tune, this time the San Francisco native threw the crowd for a loop. Although Criss has played sporadic concerts since he rose to fame as Blaine Anderson on "Glee," his new Listen Up tour marks an important leap for the TV heartthrob -- for the first time in years Criss is revealing a slate of new music likely to appear on his upcoming Columbia debut.
At the tour's first stop he previewed five potential tracks that enterprising fans captured and helpfully loaded to YouTube audiences across the globe. Is Criss' new sound more Blaine or more Harry Potter? We've got a detailed taste of what you might expect from a future Criss album.
Any Of Those Things
The first of the new tracks Criss previewed at The Fillmore showed a stark difference from his previous music -- primarily that he's up and dancing without an instrument. Although he started at the piano, he quickly transitioned to front-man status, dancing around the stage on a track that skews more directly pop than his last EP, "Human." The song deals with a jilted lover explaining all the things his love's new partner won't do, complete with audience participation.
Picture Perfect Girl
Criss introduced "Picture Perfect" with some overt flirtation with the crowd, explaining the track is all about how sexy you can look. The sound brings Criss from pop more to a soul moment that rivals Robin Thicke or JC Chasez; definitely more PG-13 when he croons about his girl starring in his "home movies." He capped off the performance by pulling a "picture perfect girl" from the audience and sitting her beside him at the piano for the end of the song. The pair snapped a selfie with the crowd as a background.
Probably the most reminiscent of Criss' previous work, "Words" was the first new track that slowed down the pace of the set. The song tells the story of someone so overwhelmed with love for their girlfriend they can't even form simple words like "I love you." The live production is jazzy bordering on R&B, definitely the most soulful of the bunch. A horn section would have been a very welcome and apropos addition.
When Criss reveals that he's "falling for your pheromones" it's impossible not to want to dance. The pop-dance number continues in the flirting vein of "Picture Perfect Girl." It's light, airy and could easily find a home on a gender-swapped Carly Rae Jepsen album. A song of the summer in the making.
Once Upon A Time
Criss framed this song as a look back into his pre-fame life that was jump-started thanks to his stint on "Glee." Ever grateful, the song is reminiscent of a time when the pressures of fame and success weren't as evident. Unlike most of his other new numbers, Criss stayed anchored to an instrument -- this time behind a piano. The track has a timeless, Elton John quality and is definitely ripe for integration into big, epic moments in TV shows in the near future. Could we see "Glee" doing this one? Sure, but we could also envision it highlighting the pivotal moment in every and any teen drama to come.
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