George Theodorou cradles a piano’s bittersweet melody with a voice that truly feels as big as rock n’ roll itself in the first moments we encounter in his debut single “When I Cry,” but as endearing as the first minute-and-change of this track is, it doesn’t feel like anything more than a drop in the bucket beside what the powerhouse chorus will soon unfurl around the next turn. There are countless ways you can go about making a rookie single that people remember years after it first hits record store shelves, but if you’re looking for a surefire success, you’ve got to have a skillset basically unteachable and untrainable to any student, no matter how devoted. In a sense, you have to be like Theodorou and have the voice to make any verses sound like pure gold.
Don’t get me wrong, now; it isn’t that “When I Cry” doesn’t have anything to present us with instrumentally. Honestly, this is one of the more cunning examples of classic rock power balladry making its way into a modern context and not sounding entirely like a throwback or a watered-down cover merely retitled for cosmetic purposes. The guitars, when they kick in, are brutish but not bludgeoning, while the piano sets up the mood in an equally dexterous and delicate manner, beckoning us closer long before verses have ever entered the equation here. That’s top-notch showmanship, and certainly not something I would normally anticipate from a newcomer to the international spotlight Theodorou is enjoying this spring.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the best element to behold in this single, and that’s George Theodorou himself. In the music video for “When I Cry,” his confidence doesn’t have the same swaggering energy it does when listening to the song on its own; it’s replaced with a vulnerability that makes the lyrics in the track just a little heavier for us to process. The multi-interpretive nature of this performance gives us insight into the hundreds of different looks this player could potentially adopt without sounding unauthentic in any way, and while I haven’t heard the rest of his debut album Water just yet, a colorful lead single like this one was bound to leave me hungry for more.
I had never heard of George Theodorou before a week ago; his growing indie fame has been mostly restricted to the European underground up until now, and I think that’s about to change drastically as “When I Cry” finds a home for itself in the college radio sphere. This is precisely the kind of sound so many DJs have been looking for in melding the best of alternative rock and old-world pop to make something as familiar as it is fundamentally different from what everyone else in the business has been cultivating in the 2020s. To put it as simply as I can, I’m sold on George Theodorou, and I’m certain the rest of America will be via “When I Cry” this coming June.
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