With the advent of music platforms and streaming services, music discovery for the fan and reach for the artist is easier than ever. Even still, it doesn’t prevent many artists from flying under the radar, remaining relatively unknown. As a listener, when you find one of those unknown artists, the thought of “why isn’t this more popular?” comes to the forefront. Pop artist Jon Bellion is one such artist, even though specifically putting him in an “unknown” category could be a bit of a grey area. Having written the chorus of Eminem’s hit “The Monster” with Rihanna, to co-writing and producing Jason Derulo’s “Trumpets”, Bellion may not yet have a headlining name, but definitely knows his way around catchy pop music and its mainstay appeal. While that work hasn’t really translated to his own popularity (yet), he’s shown that hard work and dedication to the craft does pay off. After securing a feature on B.o.B’s album and Zedd’s hit single “Beautiful Now”, his name is now on people’s tongues and his debut album, The Human Condition, couldn’t come at a more perfect time.

About Jon Bellion
Genre: Pop, R&B
Label: Capitol Records
Release: June 10, 2016
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Purchase: iTunes | Shop

Defined as “the state or condition of being human, especially regarded as being inherently problematic or flawed”, the human condition is simply what humanity is about. Utilizing this idea, Jon Bellion chose the title of his debut album appropriately as it takes the listener on a 14-track journey that follow the characteristics of what it means to be human. While he has released previous projects, this is undoubtedly his most personal, impactful and impressionable release yet and his first go-around opening up his studio sessions to other people for input. The album’s opener, “He Is The Same” highlights the switching of shouts and smooth singing, backed by passionate harmonies and a rhythmic, almost beat-box like backing beat. That’s the basis for the whole album — catchy hooks like in the nostalgic ‘’80’s Films’’ or the fun love song ‘’Overwhelming’’ — with layered production that courses throughout the music. Bellion also manages to change things up with the funky bass-laden hometown anthem ‘’New York Soul Pt. II’’, the danceable jam‘’Guillotine’’ or the slower piano led ‘’Fashion’’.

The closer, ‘’Hand Of God’,’ ends up being an incredible highlight and perhaps the most important song on the album. Essentially being at his most vulnerable, the track oozes emotion as it gives a feeling of Jon wearing his heart on his sleeve as he accepts he is just a man who lost his way. Just as any other person in this world, there’s a realization that he is only human and makes mistakes while finally learning to accept that. As the song continues, the strings give way to a gospel choir who begin to sing “Hand Of God’s” chorus. What makes this part truly great and brings the whole album to a close in a circular fashion is when the choir begins to callback previous songs from the album; bringing the album’s themes to an end and delivering an incredible finale.

The Human Condition’s artstyle takes some heavy cues from Pixar, and the music fully evokes that same imagery. Just like a movie from the studio, Jon traverses through the songs with an open heart, using his layered production & pop melodies to deliver the album’s story. From the introductory “He Is The Same” to the bombastic finale “Hand Of God”, there’s a feeling of being seated in a theater and falling in love with the characters in the same way someone would with Pixar. No one knows if this album is his gateway into achieving his dream of scoring a Pixar movie, but it should undoubtedly be the release that helps catapult him into stardom.