It’s not every day that you read a pop science book and end up with a new favourite singer! But that’s exactly what happened when I read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.
To be honest I wasn’t sure what to make of the book. It was very interesting, yes – but it just seemed a bit mixed up, starting with the premise that you can learn everyone you know about someone or something in a “blink” of time, but finishing by saying that actually perhaps it’s not so wise to trust those split second impressions! Regardless, there was some fascinating stuff in there and I’ll probably read it again at some point.
My favourite chapter is called Kenna’s Dilemma, and it’s about how first impressions don’t always give a true impression. Part of the chapter looks at the 1990s Pepsi Challenge, where people apparently rated Pepsi over Coke – but it turned out that while they generally preferred one sip of Pepsi (because it is sweeter), over the course of a can they’ll normally choose Coke. Gladwell also talks about Kenna, an Ethiopian-born American who wanted to be a singer. He sent his demo tapes to top US music producers and artists who thought he was amazing and was going to blow the world away – but when his first album was tested, with people listening to a few seconds of various tracks, it divebombed. That meant he didn’t get any airplay and as a result he’s never become as famous as he perhaps should. In fact, some say he could be one of the most underrated artists in the world.
After reading the book I wanted to know what was so special about Kenna. What was it that these music experts could see in him, that Joe Public was missing? I was intrigued so tracked down his second album – and was captivated by it. His music can’t be categorised but seems to have a genre of its own, switching from one type to another with every song. There are hints of U2, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode in his work – but there’s also a softer side to him, a more ballady soul sound, and jut as you get used to that he’s doing hard rock or rapping along with a classical background. I’ve now listened to the album dozens of times and haven’t tired of it; in fact, with every listen I hear more layers to each track.
Anyway, it comes highly recommended by me – you can buy it on Amazon if you fancy hearing it for yourself! (The book’s worth reading too!)
The vdeo is is one of my favourite songs from that album (though I love them all!)