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I’ve never really like Jason Mraz, but “The Remedy” was at least kind of entertaining. That was all I’d heard by him until “I’m Yours”, which I never liked. Before then, I’d always thought he was a kind of goofy guy, but “I’m Yours” seemed so insincere and joyless. What really rubbed me the wrong about it, though, was that it felt so phoned in, like Mraz didn’t want to be arsed to write something other than uninspired bro-rock.
“I Won’t Give Up” is cut from that same cloth, and essentially feels like a winter version of
I’m Yours”. Summery acoustic upstrokes are replaced by acoustic guitar picking patterns. For the carefree vocals of “I’m Yours”, “I Won’t Give Up” has “somber” hushed vocals. If “I’m Yours” was being played on a beach by some jackass in a distressed t-shirt, khaki shorts, and leather sandals trying to pick up chicks, “I Won’t Give Up” is that same bastard wearing a wool cap, American Eagle flannel, jeans, and moccasins trying to impress girls at a coffee shop open mic night.
I find it ironic that the song’s called “I Won’t Give Up”, because it really sounds like Mraz did. When I heard this song for the first time, I thought the same thing that I thought when I heard “Moves Like Jagger” or “You Make Me Feel…”: here’s someone who’s been around for awhile officially throwing in the towel, and knowingly making a more superficial, marketable product. And, like those songs, not only did the music become more predictable, but the effort in the lyrics is missing, too.
For example, here are the opening lyrics: “When I look into your eyes/It’s like watching the night sky/Or a beautiful sunrise”. Apparently Jason Mraz uses the same strategy as Dr. Cox. Hell, I was actually surprised and kind of let down that Mraz never brings up the ocean in this song.
“‘Cause even the stars, they burn” Well…yeah. Nuclear fusion, or “burning” if you will, is what keeps a star going. If it doesn’t happen, then there’s some sort of fault in our stars. Also, the song picks up with Mraz’s belting, a backing vocal, and overall more volume here in a way that’s distracting and annoying.
“Some even fall to earth/We’ve got a lot to learn/God knows we’re worth it/No, I won’t give up” These lines, with the star line above, make up a whole stanza that summarizes the lyrics to me: clunky, cliche imagery with vague love song lyrics. The chorus is basically the same, only with a weird sky line instead of the star one (“Even though the skies get rough”, I guess Mraz and his significant other travel exclusively via plane), and the bridge is a motor-mouth run through more “We’re tough, let’s get through this” lyrics that are more or less skippable.
Really, in terms of music, “I Won’t Give Up” goes so far into acoustic ballad that the end result flirts with country. Most of this comes from the chorus, which is all big notes and grandstanding, including a backing gang vocal on the last minute of the song. Admittedly, on the final chorus where the backing vocals do a counterpoint against the main melody, it is really effective. And it’s not so much that “I Won’t Give Up” has any real bad features as much as it does nothing to justify listening to it.
Some other reviews say that this song is similar to Adele’s “Someone Like You”, which isn’t really a valid comparison. I guess they’re the same in that they both cover romantic troubles, but that’s about it. Actually, this comparison really made me realize what rubs me the wrong way about not only this song, but other bro-dude acoustic love songs like “I’m Yours” and “Hey, Soul Sister”. Love songs like these should, on some level, make you remember or imagine what being in love is like; even if love isn’t big, it’s risky, and these songs aren’t. In “Someone Like You”, we all know that that guy ain’t coming back. No matter how hurt Adele sounds, or how well she sings, he’s not going to break down and come running for her.
In “I Won’t Give Up”, we know from the moment that Mraz sings some bullshit about her eyes that the song’s building up to their reunion. The lyric video even does this; by the final chorus, everyone’s back together and happy. Between the triumphant music and the fact that Mraz never sounds unsure of himself, failure is not a potential outcome to this song. And when I put those two together, I realized something else: never in the song does Mraz ever say or imply anything about him being hurt or worried or anything about a potential break-up. Without anything from his side, the song’s overall message is reduced to a douche-tastic: “Well, I’ll wait for you to get yourself together and realize that you should be with me”. Bite me.
“I Won’t Give Up”: coming to predictable TV and movie romance scenes near you.
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