Pop music is well known for its formula. Major key, around 120 beats per minute, less than five minutes long, great hook, fun to dance to. For decades, singers have scored big hits by following the formula. People have smiled, and danced, and gotten songs stuck in their heads for days on end. The trouble is, there’s a problem with the formula. It lacks heart.
On the other hand, there’s the singer-songwriter, making music full of depth and emotion but lacking accessibility and, well, a beat.
Curb Records artist Ryan Corn is making music that hits on every level. It’s infectious, brimming with hooks and style. Corn is also a producer, so he knows how to craft songs that bend genres and eras to full effect. It’s also bright and breezy at times and musically edgy at others. Most of all, though, it has a heart undergirding the formula. It’s a reflection of the soul of an artist whose desire is not just to get a song stuck in someone’s head, but to get it stuck in their heart, too.
Corn is a Missouri native with musical roots. As a child, he learned harmony by singing with his grandmother in church. As a teenager, the lure of the electric guitar hooked him, and he found himself in a couple of bands, writing songs and touring in a beat-up RV. Along the way, he began to develop his own musical identity as a solo artist.
A record deal with Curb followed, and in 2014 he debuted his first songs for the label. “Wonderful Things” found success, charting at Billboard and garnering 3.8 million listens on Spotify. It’s a good example of his artistic sensibilities, combining honesty, a relaxed and engaging vocal, and a bit of quirkiness in the form of trumpets, gang vocals, and Mellotron flutes.
Maybe the pop formula is tried-and-true. But it’s the rare song – and songwriter – who can use rhythm and rhyme to move the listener, to connect with audiences in a way that transcends simple music and lyrics. Ryan Corn is that artist. He’s rewriting the formula, infusing his heart into his music, and he just might make you get up and dance.
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