April 28, 2014 by Welcome to the Jungle
Columbia Records (2014)
Lea Michele’s first album released as a solo artist has been a huge success. This fourteen song soundtrack has allowed her fans to connect to her on a more personal level, and it conveys deeper meanings behind the words of the songs.
Lea grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey and her career began as an eight-year old child performing on many Broadway shows such as Les Miserables, Ragtime, and Fiddler on the Roof. As she grew up she continued to perform in different Broadway shows until she moved to Los Angeles and was casted as the lead female on the television show Glee. This is when she began to become world famous. Her character, Rachel Berry, is the star singer on Glee, and therefore Lea continued to enhance her soprano voice. Lea reaches high vocal notes with such poise and grace that I am always amazed to hear her songs. When she released her first album, Louder, in March of this year, it ranked number four on the U.S. Billboard 200. This album features pop songs, most of them music you can dance to but also a few slow romantic songs.
This album was recorded by Columbia Records in Los Angeles. Lea signed the contract with Columbia Records in 2012, releasing her first single in December 2013 and the album in March 2014. This album has a variety of different messages which all relate to Lea’s life; from her first release “Cannonball” which is all about empowerment, to her latest release “If You Say So” which is written about the loss of her boyfriend, Cory Monteith, this past year. Cory, who costarred with Lea on Glee, died this summer at a young age due to a drug overdose.
Louder is a perfect combination of songs that clearly display Lea’s powerful voice. Lea sings which strong emotion in every performance. She tells a story and makes the audience feel her emotions which is what I love most about her. This album has gained my respect to the point that I can listen to every song, over and over again, and not get tired of them. In every other album I have listened to there are always songs that I dislike, but in Louder there is not one song I do not adore. This may have to do with the fact that I can relate to so many songs on the album. Lea stated in an interview that she tried to insert songs that related to her but also were good to work out to, and she has succeeded. I enjoy the great melodies to her songs, and her voice is pitch-perfect on every track. My favorite songs of the album are “Battlefield”, “You’re Mine”, “Cannonball”, and “Thousand Needles”. These songs make you reflect on life and leave you feeling empowered or in love. Her clear voice allows me to listen to every line that she speaks (which I usually find difficult to hear in other pop songs) and which allows me to relate to the song more easily. “What seemed like a good idea has turned into a battlefield,” shows the struggles faced in every relationship. “So I told you so, wanted you to know. We’ve just one life to live,” from the song “You’re Mine” shows the bravery and courage needed to live a life worth living. These songs make me think back to my life, what will become of me, and also about Lea’s life. I relate the two of our lives and I have concluded most people go through similar struggles, which is refreshing and comforting to think about.
This album is significant for a number of reasons. This is Lea Michele’s first album as a solo artist. She has stepped outside her comfort level with her songs performed on Glee and has created something she wishes to share with the entire world. As a fan, I have gotten to “know” Lea on a more personal level as the lyrics in her songs describe personal events in her life. She is so different from all the other pop artists releasing albums this year because of the emotion she puts into her work. In a live performance, her face demonstrates the emotion (e.g. she cries in almost every deep song she performs on Glee) but in her songs on this album she constantly displays her emotion in her voice. Anyone who’s loved one passes away feels incredible agony for a long time, but for a 27-year old to lose her 31-year old boyfriend is even more tragic. On top of that, they are both celebrities which meant Lea had to grieve in public and stay strong for the rest of the world, which is conveyed in her songs. As a way to mourn her loss and also use music as a therapy, Lea wrote the song “If You Say So” which includes details about their last conversation as shown in the lyrics, “Was just a week ago, You said, “I love you girl.” I said, “I love you more.” Then a breath, a pause, you said, If you say so.” Whereas her first single released was written before her boyfriend’s death, and shows the strength she now needs. “And now I will start living today, today, today. I close the door, I got this new beginning and I will fly, I’ll fly like a cannonball, like a cannonball, like a cannonball.” Lea commented in an interview how these two songs show the two sides of her life this past year, the triumph and the loss. For these reasons, this album is memorable — for Lea but also for all her fans.
Louder is definitely a ten out of ten. Like I previously stated, I can play these songs constantly without getting bored of them. Every song is nothing like songs other artists have released in the past. It is fresh and it is enticing. These songs leave you thinking, and you feel as if you have just relived some past events in your life that these songs remind you of. Lea Michele has proven to me, and the world, that she is not only a great Broadway star and a talented actress on Glee, but also a fantastic solo artist. Each song contains hidden messages, and the more I am able to listen to these songs, the more I can understand them. Louder is an incredible album that everyone interested in pop songs should listen to.
Anna is a Grade 12 student who has been a fan of Lea Michele’s character on Glee, Rachel Berry, since the beginning of the television show, and is now an avid listener to Louder.