By Madyson McGill
As winter break ends and the all time low of going back to school begins, Jon Bellion’s album The Human Condition accompanies me as I trek from class to class in the unpredictable Indiana weather.
Unpredictable could also be used to describe Bellion’s piece of work. The 14-track album takes the listener through a journey of what it is to be human. The album is Jon Bellion’s version of what humanity is. It’s a story created through a variety of unique beats, rhythms, sounds, and words.
The first track, “He Is The Same,” fades in with a steady beat of what sounds like a heart monitor. It’s like a pulse, a sign of human life. What stands out in this song is how the dynamic changes throughout it. It has its highs and lows while also slowing down and breaking from the steady beat in the beginning, almost sounding like a completely different track towards the end. The way Bellion uses his voice in different ways like instruments helps tell the story of how he became this star but also how he’s still the same person he was in high school.
“80’s Films” is the next track, sounding more like a tradition pop song one would hear on the radio. What is really great about this song is the use of horns. The use of actual instruments in this track like the horns, piano, and guitar is a nice contrast from the first track, which didn’t really have that. It also interweaves nicely with the other beats and sounds of the track.
Thus far this album has not hit an all time low, even though the third track has been overplayed on the radio. The third track,“All Time Low,” is an all time high of this album. When I hear the phrase “all time low,” I think of two things: the band All Time Low, and something sad and depressing. This track is neither; it’s upbeat and fun. Bellion has found a way to celebrate being at an all time low with this song.
I’m going to be honest: the next track shocked me. “New York Soul – Pt. II” starts out slow and mellow and then, like a switch, turns into an unexpected rap track. It’s like two different songs mashed into one. But, at the same time it reminds of what New York is. It is two different sides of the spectrum, because it is full of different types of people and cultures. I think Bellion does a really fantastic job of encompassing that.
Then the album transfers from a rough intense song, like “New York Soul – Pt. II,” to a soft ballad like “Fashion.” Listening to this song it reminds me a lot of “7 Years” by Lukas Graham. Their voices sound very similar. With that said though, I don’t know how I feel about this song. Musically, I think it is great; I’m a sucker for the slow piano and its composition. He layers his voices perfectly. Lyric wise though, I’m not the biggest fan. It doesn’t connect with me. Thankfully, the next track does.
“Maybe IDK” is my personal favorite. I like the sit-down, acoustic feel of the track. He adds his own spin to it with the techno sounds, but they intertwine perfectly with the claps and the strings. It’s a track I imagine listening to when I’m lost and down. I connect with it. There are many moments in my life where I feel like I don’t know what to do and feel lost. This song is inspiring, saying that it’s okay to not know. As humans, I think we’ve all had that feeling of not knowing.
“Weight Of The World” is a similar track. It’s slow and mellow with a hint of jazz and relates to the person listening to it. There have been many moments where I’ve felt like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. This song reminds me of a breaking point, where a person feels like they’re about to break under the pressure. Musically, what I like about it is how, like “New York Soul – Pt. II,” it suddenly breaks into this rap like a release of emotion.
Generally, what I love about this album is that each song connects to an aspect of human life. It might be an experience, or a thought, or feeling. There’s the song “Overwhelming,” which references a relationship and the feeling of being overwhelmed by a person. The feeling of being so taken by someone they’re overwhelming. Then there are songs like “The Good In Me,” which is more like an experience where someone’s come in contact with a toxic person.
Speaking of specific tracks, “Morning in America” is real. That’s how I would explain it. It’s a song about everyday life for a person who has to fake it. It gets rid of the divide between someone’s private life and their public life, exposing it all. As humans, not everybody, but some, have a completely different life than what people see on the outside, and I think this song shows that.
The track “iRobot” is extremely creative. Musically, this track is unique. Usually, I’m not a fan of auto-tune but I think Bellion does a good job of using it to his advantage. He’s singing about how he once knew love, but knows he just feels like a robot, even making the way he sings sound robotic.
Wrapping up the album there is “Guillotine” and “Hand of God (Outro).” “Guillotine” is danceable. It has a groovy rhythm that I love. Much like “All Time Low,” it’s a song that can get stuck in your head. I would describe it as infectious.
To finish off the album, “Hand of God (Outro)” blew me away. I think it is a beautiful piece of work that encompasses so much. Just the lyrics, “I am just a man,” and “Your life is in the hand of god,” have a great effect. If you stick with the theme of the human condition, the album comes full circle. We are just human beings who don’t always have control of our lives. Even if you aren’t religious, this song still holds meaning. It also pulls from all the life experiences from earlier on in the album, making it the best way Bellion could have ended the album.
Overall, this album is a solid 5. I think Bellion is able to create a work of art that is very meaningful and honest, which isn’t something we always see in albums these days.