Back in the 80s, Bryan Adams was a pop-rock factory, churning out one hit after the other. I can’t say I disliked his music. Like all well-crafted pop, it had catchy hooks. However, while it had energy, it felt somehow lacking authentic gravitas. I guess “whitebread” would be the word for it.
Anyway, it’s ironic that one of his first hits was a song about nostalgia, one that, 30+ years hence is itself nostalgic.
The other early song everyone remembers is Cuts Like a Knife. Back then he had a certain bit of “edge”.
As the 80s progressed, his music became increasingly glossy and self-indulgent. My feeling is that his creative peak is Run to You. Everything about the song’s structure and production is pretty much perfectly crafted, including how the video was shot and edited with the various environmental effects.
Then, somewhere along the way, he became……adult contemporary…although with a few oddities here and there like this song that sounds like Def Leppard.
I’m not going to show the entire progression, but the final endpoint is best demonstrated in this video with, in effect, the holy trio of rockers who slipped into adult contemporary, all clustered together like a corporate publicity stunt.
I think the problem with adult-contemporary as a genre is it panders to a niche demographic (i.e. middle-aged women). It waves its banner way too shamelessly. I’m all for sentimental songs, but there’s a certain, I dunno, “loungey” quality to adult-contemporary. It’s pop-rock on cruise-control with the drumming moving to the sidestick. The energy level is too subdued. And I guess now that I’m in my mid 40s it kind of saddens me to see rockers go soft like this. Not that Bryan Adams was ever truly “heavy” in the first place, but the whole biology-is-destiny thing about mellowing out kind of nags at me. It’s also why I respect rockers who stuck to their guns to the end like Lemmy.
Anyway, here is Bryan Adams at his most neutered and domesticated, following in the footsteps of Elton John and Phil Collins. It’s a sweet song, but oh, so toothless.