Press Play: Conan Gray delivers his identity and truth with debut album ‘Kid Krow’


“Kid Krow” album artwork. Credit to Conan Gray’s Facebook page. Photo credit: Autumn Bohner

Michael Kelley, Staff Photographer

As the internet and social media have gained prominence throughout society, the music industry has adapted to and greatly profited from these new technologies.

For example, a multitude of today’s most acclaimed artists, such as Justin Bieber, Post Malone and Billie Eilish, have been discovered through online media platforms such as YouTube and Soundcloud.

By integrating itself into the daily lives of millions, if not billions worldwide, the internet has allowed individuals to find success among a vast audience.

One such individual is YouTuber Conan Gray, who has made waves in the industry with his upbeat, piercing pop music.

Gray made hundreds of videos on his YouTube channel for nearly four years, gaining over 1,000,000 subscribers in the process.

All of the videos, including covers of songs artists such as Lorde, The Neighborhood and The 1975 convey his youthful and energetic personality, one of the distinct elements which define his discography.

Gray’s 2017 debut single “Idle Town” would later appear on his 2018 EP “Sunset Season,” along with singles “The Other Side” and “Grow.” All the tracks provide a sense of storytelling with lyrics detailing the singer’s personal life and conveying his emotions regarding being destined to love, despite only being in high school.

Gray’s somber vocal range provides a sense of ease to the listener and creates an atmosphere of melodrama and nostalgia.

Ever since the release of his song “Checkmate” in June 2019, the former YouTuber has frequently teased that his debut album is in the works. The expectations of the album continued to rise with the release of fan favorite “Comfort Crowd” and smash hit “Maniac” as singles in September and October 2019 respectively. After months of anticipation, Gray announced in early January alongside follow-up single “The Story” that his debut album, “Kid Krow,” would release on March 20.

Singles from the album detail varying shifts in sound, so how does Gray manage to engage longtime fans along with new audiences for his upcoming release?

At first glance, the concept of “Kid Krow” works to provide an engaging story about the inner workings of Conan’s life such as his relationships, family life and other subjects. The album manages to divide the tracklist into three sections that serve to express different points in Conan’s life.

The opening track “Comfort Crowd” has Gray discussing feelings of loneliness he experienced when his EP released in 2018, ultimately acting as a gateway between his prior work and the rest of the album.

Featuring an emotional and irresistibly catchy chorus, “Wish You Were Sober” expresses Gray’s desire for a lover to reciprocate his feelings when they are both sober. The song also serves as an introduction to the concept of “Kid Krow,” inspired by how his best friend had given him the nickname “Crow.”

In an interview with People Magazine earlier this year, Gray elaborated on his connection to the name and expressed how he wanted the album to be a genuine representation of who he is and has been his entire life. To ensure this vision, the album presents his personality for all to see, displaying his broodiness and mysteriousness alongside a lack of seriousness.

Gray embellishes his inner being with “Maniac,” a monumental anthem where he addresses his lover and how they feel as if he’s someone who he is not. The first portion of the album concludes with an interlude titled “(Online Love),” which reveals the broken promises made by Gray’s lover through the means of poetry and concludes with a live conversation between the singer and a friend.

The second section of the album begins with the first single “Checkmate,” an upbeat and heavily acoustic track that expresses the anger Gray feels in regards to the end of this relationship.

The music proceeds with “The Cut That Always Bleeds,” a ballad that exhibits the feelings of heartbreak and “Fight or Flight,” where Gray recognizes the true identity of his significant other after discovering their infidelity.

“Affluenza” concludes the second section, detailing how money does not always buy happiness over bright and swinging production reminiscent of indie-pop artists Cavetown and Clairo.

The third and final section begins with the interlude “(Can We Be Friends?),” which expresses his gratitude towards his friends.

The tenth track, “Heather,” is a somber yet relatable ballad that examines the distress and sorrow Gray experienced as a part of a love triangle. “Little League” then captures a essence of nostalgia that many yearn for. The track is perfect for driving with friends in the summer.

“The Story” closes the album, manifesting the struggles Gray and his friends lived through in their childhood. The song also provides a call to arms about having the courage to keep going in life.

As a whole, “Kid Krow” provides different views to Conan’s life that have not yet been seen through his online presence up to this point. This includes his family life, relationships and more. The album discusses vital subjects, principally anger, love and heartbreak, in great detail which is aided by the inclusion of interludes between certain tracks.

Compared to “Sunset Season,” “Kid Krow” feels more refined and insightful in regards to how it demonstrates how human and tender Gray continues to be despite his fame.

All in all, the album displays how much potential the singer has within the music industry, with “Wish You Were Sober,” “The Cut That Always Bleeds,” “Heather” and “The Story” standing out as the most compelling tracks on the effort.

If Gray continues to dive into what is behind the curtain on future releases, his rise into superstardom will come as no surprise.

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Twitter: @MKelleyWW