Music review: ‘Shades of Grey’ is the perfect track for any setting
As a fan of discovering new artists early and often, I always get excited when I find albums or tracks that hit all of my ideal music criteria: catchy, complex and really, really easy to replay incessantly. “Shades of Grey” by up-and-coming electronic DJs Oliver Heldens and Shaun Frank and featuring Delaney Jane is exactly that.
While still relatively unknown, Heldens has a robust tracklist already, and “Shades of Grey” is one of his most promising and commercially-translatable works to date. I would predict that Heldens is due for a true top hit at some point in the near future.
Released as a single with Jane — a Canadian vocalist best known for her pop collaboration with Grandtheft in “Easy Go” — “Shades of Grey” is perhaps my favorite track for when I am on the move or headed to class or work. Jane’s accent, which I thought was English for the longest time, plays really well into the piece, lending the song a more cosmopolitan feel than it would perhaps have otherwise.
A common issue with albums in the electronic genre is a tendency to produce singles that are too similar to each other, resulting in tracks in which nothing particularly stands out. Usually, similar songs open with the beat first and incorporate vocals as an afterthought, since the sound quality of their track is often the most important aspect. Heldens, Frank and Jane, in a nice change of pace, make sure that “Shades of Grey” features the vocals first, turning it from just a track with singing into a song with a great beat.
Where Heldens and Frank also differentiate themselves is with the two different versions of the song that they have created: the regular mix and the radio mix. While not uncommon, especially in the house or electronic space, Heldens and Frank have created two different songs for listeners. I originally discovered the radio mix, which is still my favorite, but his regular mix is an entirely different yet enjoyable experience. In the regular mix, the duo chose to create a much more relaxed beat that builds to a softer drop, incorporating a strong guitar presence which is not found at all in the radio mix. In fact, the main highlight in the regular mix is the guitar, which builds up to the drop on top of the beat and ends up being much of the song’s overall focus.
“Shades of Grey” works well if you, like me, love to keep the same song on repeat because each listen feels slightly different from the last. “Shades of Grey” is the type of song that helps you think about where you are and fits itself well to whatever mood you are in — if you are getting ready for an exciting day, it works well in the background or if you are in an introspective mood and need a moment to reflect, the song works perfectly well for that, too.
Heldens and Frank have created a track that is versatile, exceedingly catchy yet differentiated in the electronic space, especially with the two versions. Jane, who has already found critical and commercial success with “Easy Go,” has proven herself as the go-to vocalist for electronic DJs. While it may never hit the pop airwaves, “Shades of Grey” could be a precursor of more exciting things to come from Heldens and Frank; nevertheless, it is a great addition to any playlist.