“Upside Down” by Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson is often lumped in with John Mayer and Jason Mraz, but that isn’t really fair to either of those artists. Johnson is basically everything people complain about regarding Mayer and Mraz, but without any of the qualities that actually make those two legitimate artists. Without Mayer’s songwriting and instrumental virtuosity, or Mraz’s gift for catchy melodies or warmth and sincerity, Jack Johnson’s music is exactly the kind of pointless musical filler that his peers in the acoustic Soft Rock genre are often accused of making. This song, probably his biggest hit, was the theme song to the 2006 film version of Curious George. One can assume he was trying to emulate late-career Randy Newman here, but Newman’s Pixar themes, bland as they can be at times, are at least distinctly catchy and have a good-natured, rollicking quality that fits their purpose. This is just utterly forgettable strumming and empty cliches, coupled with vaguely faux-African background instrumentation that would tiptoe right up to the line of being insensitive if anyone could be induced to care about it in the first place. Even as pure background music, there are literally hundreds of better options out there, so I honestly don’t see why this guy still has a career…and that’s speaking as one of the few critics who will unreservedly defend acts like Mayer and Mraz.

Verdict: Bad, or to be more accurate, utterly worthless and forgettable.

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