Review: Odom’s single ‘Under Pressure’ inspired by mentors and movies


Jacob WaringOnline Editor

Rarely does music nowadays function as a synchronized dance between the vocalist and the musical elements embedded within a song. However, “Under Pressure” by Leslie Odom Jr is exactly that.

“Under Pressure” dropped on Sept. 13 and will be one of the songs featured in Odom’s upcoming album, “Mr,” that’s dropping in November.

His light falsetto weaves around the string instrumentals on the tracks which produces a cinematic vibe that is prominent within the lyrical storytelling.

The Tony Award winning singer spoke and performed during the 125th Anniversary Gala

He elaborated upon the origin of the song itself and he said “Under Pressure,” was inspired by a movie.

Odom said that he was in a the middle of a writer’s camp, with what he said was some of the most brilliant people he knows to write the music for his record. The group decided to take a break and see the movie, “Blindspotting”.

“One of my favorite movies from last year. I had seen it already, and the guys I was writing with had not seen it. And so, we stopped everything and [went] to see this movie,” Odom said.

Odom said once the writer’s camp returned from the movie, they were inspired to write “Under Pressure.”

“It was one of the last songs that we wrote. I think that the cinematic feel kind of is because we were inspired by a movie. Kind of got a James Bond vibe. It feels like a thriller to me or something like that,” Odom said.

The song does sound like it is the opening theme for the next Bond flick. More importantly, it feels as if the song is guiding you on a journey —a journey about success that is littered with hazards one would encounter. Along with the discord one battles within themselves while dealing with success.

Lyrically, the substance is thought-provoking. The mesmerizing violins, cellos and deep horns paint a rich orchestrated tapestry. Odom’s voice is an instrument in itself as it delicately weaves through the musical beats. warm hug while the lyrics tug at your heart.

Nat King Cole, a legendary jazz pianist and vocalist, has his fingerprints on the single. According to Odom, Cole’s music inspired him and is the kind he set out to try to do.

“When I set out to record anything, a couple years ago we said we wanted to make the kind of music Nat King Cole might make today,” Odom said. “I think, you know we endeavored to do that. I don’t know if anyone would listen to it and think that’s what we were trying to do but that’s what we were trying to do.”

Throughout his song, Odom’s voice takes center stage. His voice cuts through the melodious sounds like an arrow speeding through the air, but with grace. He has a lustrous intonation that beckons listeners ears into attention. Whether it is one of the countless musical numbers in Hamilton or one of his own works, his voice stands out.

However he does not take all the credit, as Odom said it is a collaborative process to get his voice to stand out.

“Music is a very collaborative thing. I got producers looking out for me, writers looking out for me, mixing engineers looking out for me,” he said. “I have to give credit where credit is due.”

The single is clearly just an appetizer for the main course that is the upcoming album in November.

“[There] is so much great musicianship,” said Odom, ‘and such wonderful orchestration that it still remains an album that’s about a voice.”

Photo credit: Jacob Waring

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