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Powter’s distinctive, melodic sound crosses Atlantic

Liz Byrum | Thursday, April 13, 2006

There’s nothing like a song called “Bad Day” to put someone in a good mood. That’s exactly what Daniel Powter’s first single did throughout Europe in 2005. That mood has now spread to the United States with the release of Powter’s self-titled debut April 18.

Powter, born in British Columbia, Canada in 1971, began to hone his musical talents when he began playing the violin at age four. With the influence of his pianist mother, his main instrument became the piano by the time he was a teenager.

Powter eventually studied music at Grant McEwan College for two years before dropping out due to difficulties with dyslexia.

Between his time in college and the release of his debut album, Powter moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, and became entangled in drug use. After almost a decade of cocaine abuse, Powter entered a rehabilitation center where he dealt with his addiction for almost two years. Although on the first listen the now-famous song “Bad Day” may seem like a carefree tune, it was partly written about those two horrible years Powter spent pulling his life back together. He considers it his way of helping prevent young people from making the same mistakes he did.

Today, “Bad Day” has become a sensation on radio stations all over the world because of its smooth vocals and bouncing beat. The song has even gained commercial success as the theme song for a European Coca-Cola campaign, and as a heavily played song on the fifth season of American Idol. “Bad Day” currently holds the No. 1 position on Billboard’s Hot 100 List, and has been present on the chart for the eight consecutive weeks since its debut.

After recovering from his addiction, Powter took his act on the road in 2005, where he toured Europe and played in the Berlin Live 8 benefit concert, which raised awareness for the poverty stricken communities of Africa.

Powter’s music is most definitely characterized as “pop,” however he creates a unique sound that cannot be heard from other artists today. Piano melodies wind through almost every song on the album, but each one remains distinctive and recognizable. The slower songs on the album, including “Styrofoam” especially highlight Powter’s vocal and piano playing skills.

The faster paced songs take listeners on a trip to a ’70s dance floor. One of the best includes “Hollywood,” a scathing tune about the artificial world of stardom in the city. With lyrics that include, “You could be my star for weekends / Do you like your Hollywood?” it’s easy to see how Powter feels about the subject.

The only song on the album that appears questionable is “Jimmy Gets High.” The song seems to be another reflection of Powter’s time as a drug addict, with lyrics like “Jimmy you know / Everybody hates you when you’re living off your rock ‘n’ roll / So you get high tonight.” Although the song begins with a simple but effective sound, it takes a downward turn as Powter’s voice continues to climb higher and higher.

As is evident in “Jimmy Gets High,” the only thing that keeps this CD from getting a higher rating is the slight screech that echoes out of a few of Powter’s songs. Like nails on a chalkboard, it’s downright disturbing.

With all of the pop music crowding radio stations all over the world, Powter is a refreshing move away from the norm.

His form of pop gives new meaning to the word, and takes listeners back to another time. If nothing else, “Daniel Powter” will put a little bounce in your day.