Charlie Puth: ‘No more love ballads’
By WILLIAM ROBERT FERRER | The Seattle Times | Published: July 12, 2017
“No more love ballads,” Charlie Puth declares. “That was people nudging me in a direction that I didn’t want to go in.”
Puth, of course, is alluding to his first album, “Nine Track Mind,” a commercial success that failed to land with critics. Packed with love songs, the album is an exercise in repetition. But Puth says those never-ending tales of torturous and unrequited love do not define him, his style or his experience.
“That was all hypothetical,” Puth says in a telephone interview. “And I won’t, a lot of those songs, didn’t — I don’t want to — I’m trying to find the right way to say this.
“Like, not that they don’t mean that much to me, it’s that they weren’t me,” Puth says. “Those songs weren’t me.”
When asked about “Marvin Gaye,” his career-making duet with Meghan Trainor, Puth just laughs. “Dude, I wrote that song for Cee Lo (Green)! I wrote that song as a joke! And it ended up being like a big hit!”
It’s not that the Grammy-nominated singer (for “See You Again,” his duet with Wiz Khalifa) doesn’t appreciate what his first album has given him — at one point, he stops the interview to say how happy it makes him to hear fans scream the lyrics to “One Call Away.” Rather, he sees his first record as rite of passage, a steppingstone to the artist he’d like to be.
“But the music that you’re going to hear from this new album . I’ve proven myself,” he says. “I’ve written hits for other people, and I’ve written hits for myself in a very short amount of time.”
Puth’s sophomore album “Voice Notes” is due this fall.
According to Puth, his more authentic self is often somber and imperfect, a far cry from the “pristine boy pop wonder” (his words) image promulgated by “Nine Track Mind.”
“You know I’ve had some dark thoughts before and some dark times in my life and I’ve been really messed up,” Puth says.
His next album, he hopes, reflects that side of him. Describing the tracklist, he talks of songs about “(being) in this club by myself, dancing with some person, and I have no idea what her name is,” about “how girls can show their true colors and how they have ulterior motives.”
“And, you know, desperation records,” Puth adds. “And me not being a perfect person. Me expressing, (to) many people, just have a little patience with me. I’m not going to be exactly what you need at this moment, but I will.”
That subversion is largely missing from his most recent single, “Attention,” though.
Sung in Puth’s unmistakable falsetto, “Attention” has a lot in common with first-album single “We Don’t Talk Anymore.” There’s the girl who doesn’t get it and there’s the guy with the aching heart.
There is something “against-the-grain” about the single. It’s a club song that doesn’t want to be a club song.
“The natural inclination is to, like, dada-DADA, build-up-BUILD-UP,” Puth says with a musical lilt. And “Attention,” with its low, booming, guitar-infused chorus, seems to be actively resisting that impulse.
“I live for making music for people,” Puth says. “I’m never going to make everybody happy, but - how can I just make them a little bit happier? I want to make some people dance.”