Mike Posner tales love, loss, and the growth that follows on his intensely intimate third studio album A Real Good Kid.
When Mike Posner performed at the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears half-time show this past Thanksgiving, it was clear as day something had changed. The Detroit-native’s full beard and unkempt hair were a far cry from the stubbly suburban songwriter we came to know almost a decade ago, and the near antithesis of the green-haired goof at the 2017 Grammys, where his hit “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” was nominated for “Song of the Year.”
On the day of thanks, social media had a field day, making snide remarks about the performance and his new appearance. Thankfully, he took the comments in stride, and we’d later learn that change was the point of his new direction indeed.
The Message In “Move On”
When Posner shared the music video for his single “Move On” a few weeks back, he gave fans a raw look at the adversity he’d faced over the past two years. Short anecdotes intermix with the video, detailing his father’s battle with cancer and eventual passing, a tough breakup with his girlfriend, and the loss of his dear friend Avicii.
“Move On” communicates the theme and inspiration for the album effectively through a few simple lines, with Posner singing, “beginnings always hide themselves in ends” and powerfully proclaiming in the chorus, “I feel pain, I don’t want to / But I have to, yeah, I have to / If I want to move on.”
“Move On”‘s semi-viral spread helped us understand and relate to Posner – not only through his tragedy and grieving, but also his strength and hopefulness. So when Posner announced in the video he’d be taking an entire year, beginning March 1st, 2019, to walk coast to coast across the United States, his resilience was undeniable if not inspiring.
A Real Good Kid
Posner explicitly requests your undivided attention for the full length of the album — no texting, no email, no stopping. Despite its weeknight midnight release, I respectfully obliged and listened in the dark lying in bed. After the introduction, “January 11th, 2017” holds nothing back as Posner explains the period surrounding his dad’s passing. The track ends with an emotional recording of one of their affectionate exchanges before his death.
The album is dynamic – there are angry songs, sad songs, uplifting songs, with most covering any combination of the three. On the single “Song About You,” distorted bass and crunchy boom-bap drums underscore Posner’s angst, as he states, “I just wanna unwind, unwind / Everything that makes me feel confined / Sometimes I hate sunshine.” On tracks like “Wide Open” and “Perfect,” electronic production and R&B-influenced instrumentation serve to glue the more contemporary tracks together. “Drip” fuses together all of the above, along with a poetic interlude where Posner delivers the album’s darkest moments.
Every listener has something to gain from A Real Good Kid. Whether you listen as he intended or on your own time, the important piece is that you’re listening. Likewise, Posner will return the favor on his walk across the country, explaining:
“Anyone is welcome to walk with me at any time during my journey. I will be practicing deep listening. What does this mean? I will be spending periods of my walk compassionately listening to people with as much of my full attention as possible. If you need to be heard…I’m there to hear.”-Mike Posner