The only song stuck in my head

Andrew Lagambina

You can purchase “Only One” on iTunes for $1.29 (AP Photo)
You can purchase “Only One” on iTunes for $1.29 (AP Photo)

Top 40 radio can often be a barren wasteland of uninspired music. While the melodies are infinitely catchy, much of that music is far too repetitive and meaningless for many people to give the time of day. Hip Hop, specifically Top 40 Hip Hop, produces some of the worst offenders. So, imagine my surprise when arguably the biggest Hip Hop artist, and undoubtedly one of the biggest mainstream music artists of the 2000s and 2010s, starts 2015 by releasing a song so emotive and heartfelt, that I immediately go to iTunes and give him my hard-earned money.

Kanye West has a bit of a stigma surrounding him. Some people think the fame has gone to his head while some swear that his antics are all for publicity and that he is a decent human being. Either way, nary a week goes by without the tabloids, the TV, or the radio, much less the forums of AP.net, talking about this guy. I’ve never been a big fan of Kanye. I appreciate his work as a producer, though. He’s extremely good at what he does and has a fantastic musical mind. As he is a Hip Hop / Rap artist, I never truly got into his music.

So how did Kanye become a new favorite for me overnight? He did the exact opposite of what anyone thought he would do. After the darkness of his last record, Yeezus, no one expected Kanye to release one of the most kind and gentle songs the mainstream music scene has ever heard. Maybe it’s fatherhood, or maybe it’s his realization that change keeps people interested, or maybe it’s both. Regardless, the song is awesome.

The song, called “Only One,” is written from the perspective of West’s late mother. Paul McCartney’s added vocals are subtle, truly restrained to just harmonies, but they contrast Kanye’s pitch-corrected melodies fantastically. Usually the auto-tune effect is associated with a person’s lack of ability to sing, which isn’t necessarily true. The effect requires some portion of talent from the artist using it (So, yes. Kanye West can carry a melody, apparently pretty well). Simple synth work punctuates West’s lines, the minimalism allowing you to focus on the lyrical content of the song.

Not only is “Only One” a heartwarming tribute to both West’s daughter and mother, it’s also a perfect anticipation track to drop before his new album gets released sometime this year. The Paul McCartney feature is sure to create a buzz in the Grammy community, especially after his presence on the “Nirvana” track, Cut Me Some Slack from Dave Grohl’s sound city documentary was nominated last year. “Only One” has certainly lived up to the hype surrounding it, and is certainly worth the $1.29 on iTunes.