Official Version – Everything: A Review

Official Version was founded in 2004 by Jason Allen, and later on included Future and Gucci J as drummer and keyboardist, respectively. Everything is the third album released by Official Version, written by Jason Allen and produced by Daniel Willett. In Everything, the group lives up to its electronica/pop/alternative sound. Overall, the electronic sound is a lot of fun and the vocals are great, but the lyrics are too simplistic for many of the songs to really be meaningful.

Musically, the album is very entertaining. The electronic sound starts off smooth and the first few tracks have a very mellow, constant vibe. The songs seem to grow in intensity as the album progresses, getting more and more exciting until climaxing with “Scary Parties” and finally slowing down again with the last song, “Is There Really A Heaven?” The vocals are also great. While most songs favor a male lead vocalist, a female and another male vocalist frequently weave mirroring lyrics in the refrains. There are a couple songs that bring female vocals closer to the front, and are all the better for it. “Our Night” and “Automatik” feature the best blend of male and female vocals. The most musically exciting song? Hands down, “Automatik.”

Love is the predominant theme of the album, in all its different forms. Romantic love, lost love, love of self, and love of self-indulgence are only a few of the different takes in Everything, and Official Version puts some nice spin on an age-old theme.

“Stalker Love” is an entertaining twist on the love theme. The lyrics tell the story of a man and a woman who have shared a one night stand, and end up stalking one another after. As the song goes, they both reveal that they have been stalking each other. The ending refrain: “We’re crazy together/ we’re stalking together/ we’re obsessed together/ we deserve each other.”  It’s a little bit out there (you don’t usually find too many songs about stalking your lover), but the music is good and the lyrics are fun as the story unfolds in the song.

“Scary Parties” is the biggest disappointment of the album. The music is great, up-tempo and entertaining, but the lyrics fail to deliver. The meaning of the song is confusing. Moments of it still read like a love song (“Moving closer and closer to your heart / while moving further and further apart”), but with a strange scenario. The line “Since you came, it’s party time” moves quickly into a refrain of everything one could expect to find at a scary party: “You want it all, the alcohol / drugs are next, then the sex.”  Even the vocals, which are normally one of the stronger aspects of Everything, come off sounding strange in this song. In the same refrain, the repetition of “then the sex” is the only line in the entire song sung by female vocals, making it sound out of place and uncomfortable. But it’s hard to know what Official Version is trying to convey in this song. One verse will feel like the drinking and drugs and sex are just a cover for a difficult life: “And I know that you feel you can’t survive / Without these things keeping you alive.” But then – “Get high / we’ll die (together).” The meanings of the lyrics get jumbled around and if the song is supposed to be a negative portrayal of risky partying, the words are much too simple and confusing to be effective.

There are a few gems strewn in with the rest, though. “Proof of an Angel” combines the electronic sound with a ballad of lost love. It’s as beautiful and sad as “Stalker Love” is crazy. “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” is another surprise track. A cover song for The Smith’s original track, Official Version stays true to feeling of the song by putting the electronics on hold in favor of guitar and soft vocals. It’s a nice change-up amid the more out there tracks.

Without a doubt, the standout track of the album is the closing song, “Is There Really A Heaven?” Part of what makes this song so good is how different it feels from the rest of Everything. For this track, Official Version trades in their electronics for smooth piano melodies and switches up the love theme in favor of religion and longing. The lyrics are sad and meaningful in a way that many of the other songs lack. It’s a somber song, almost to the point of haunting. “Is There Really A Heaven?” is the story of a young boy’s lifelong disappointment with religious institutions and reconciling the mandates of a “religious” lifestyle with his own life (“But living for Him meant / I’d have to give up who I am”). He reveals the pain the church has caused his life. “My family lived just for the church / That’s what tore us apart.” The song itself really offers no solution, just the parting words: “In the end when it’s all done / then I’ll know that I’m not the only one.”

Stalker Love

Just that one time together
I never gave you my number,
So how did you find me on your own?

I never gave you my real name
Or where I live, oh no.
And my pockets were empty,
No ID or 411 on me.

Just that one time together,
I never gave you my number,
So how did you find me on your own?
That night was only touch and go.

You say if you can’t have me,
Then no one else can, oh no.

And most people would freak out,
But I stalked you too
So let’s get out.
I watched you dressing in your house.

We’re crazy together (obsessed together),
We’re stalking together (crazy together),
We’re obsessed together (stalking together),
We deserve each other.

Just that one time together,
You never gave me your number,
I found you easily on my own.
That night was not just touch and go.

Is There Really A Heaven?

Mortal led religion,
I could never live like that again.
When I was young I lived in fear
Of committing sin.

I was just a boy
Of innocent joy
On my way to Heaven.

Scared and praying for the preachers
Who were scaring me instead
It wasn’t just their antics,
It was the things they said.

I was just a boy,
I believed their story.
Is there really a Heaven?

I was always told to do what’s right,
To live my life for Him,
But living for Him meant
I’d have to give up who I am.

I was just a boy
Of innocent joy
On my way to Heaven.

Although I was young
I saw my parents, what was in their hearts.
My family lived just for the church,
That’s what tore us apart.

I was just a boy,
We believed their story.
Is there really a Heaven?
Is there really a Heaven?

In the end when it’s all done,
Then I’ll know that I’m not the only one.

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