Graphic by Cheslea Cleary

Graphic by Cheslea Cleary

By Allison Antram, Staff Writer

Driving back to school from Ohio, I have a solid five plus hours in the car, alone. Naturally, I turn on the radio and am greeted by a wave of auto tune, thumping beats and less than Asbury-appropriate lyrics. And let there be no misunderstanding: from time to time and for the first two hours of that drive, I dance and sing and enjoy said pump-up music. But by hour three of that drive, I have assumed a slumped position in the driver’s seat, tiredly flipping channels for a song I haven’t already heard five times.

However, I noticed something spectacular. I could scarcely scan the radio without encountering the slower and more emotional serenades of singers such as Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, John Legend, and others. I made no complaints and belted it just the same. While it seems strange alongside “Turn Down for What” or “Fancy,” Smith and Sheeran claimed the top two spots for the best-selling artists of 2014. I have concluded that there is a style of new-age crooner on the rise.

Sam Smith first hit the radio with more upbeat songs like “Money on My Mind” or featured in Disclosure’s “Latch” (the acoustic version is spectacular, by the way). But it wasn’t until “Stay With Me” that people really started taking notice. That song, along with more recently popular “I’m Not The Only One” are taking over the radio and winning hearts – I saw a tweet that read, “Sam Smith’s voice should be a scented candle,” and I agreed.

Ed Sheeran has been around a little longer, as he gained popularity with songs such as “The A Team” and “Lego House” from his first album, “+.” His new album, “x,” was released in 2014, and songs such as “Sing,” and “Don’t” quickly became popular, before we all fell in love with “Thinking Out Loud.” I’ve loved Sheeran since his last album, and my favorites were his less well-known but slower, more heartfelt songs such as “Kiss Me,” or “Give Me Love.” My point is this – both of these artists and plenty others have these beautiful, but slower songs stashed away on their albums, but why are they just now being appreciated?

I think it could simply be that they are well-rounded and genuinely talented artists. Personally, I find different kinds of music for different occasions. A lot of popular music is mostly its beat rather than its lyrics or vocal talents – and there are certainly times when we all enjoy a good beat. But those are the songs we forget about. The ones that stick with us are the ones that strike a chord – the ones that capture our hearts with their words and induce chills with a well-sung note. I think the modern-day crooner has gained popularity because we can appreciate and relate to their authenticity and they have the kind of beautiful, talented voices that are best described by people’s desire to make them into a scented candle (evidently).

It’s refreshing to see artists with legitimate vocal and lyrical talent being widely recognized. We can hear the heart in their words and we don’t cringe when we hear them live. They have a sound that is unique, not mass-produced, and shows a wider range of talent. To put it simply, they make quality music that we can appreciate on a deeper level. And I’m so glad to hear a different sound when I’m flipping through the radio, and I know I’m not the only one (bad pun, sorry).