This summer, the boyband Why Don’t We was scheduled to record yet another album of songs written by other people, but luckily, Corona got in the way of that.
Why Don’t We is a 5 person band that includes Corbyn Besson, Daniel Seavey, Jack Avery, Jonah Marais, and Zach Herron. For over four years, they have been forced to release music that they had little part in creating, because many record labels believe that professionally written music is sure to sell.
However, they finally convinced their record label, Atlantic Records, to allow them to write and produce their own music which makes their album, The Good Times and The Bad Ones, their first personally constructed release.
This album is especially noteworthy because of its intention to include a variety of songs, and provide a mixture of both positive and negative messages.
Seavey contributed to the album 75% more than the rest of the band. I am not trying to discredit the other bandmates, but Daniel produced every song, wrote 3 of them by himself (no one else wrote any songs alone), played several instruments, and so much more. Looking through the credits I was shocked to see his name appear so many times.
On a more serious note, the loss of one of Seavey’s close friends, Corey La Barrie influenced the music he created.
Track 1, “Fallin’ (Adrenaline)” is the most popular from the album, surpassing the others by several million streams. Not to be mistaken for “Falling” from their 2018 album 8 Letters, “Fallin’” was written by Corbyn, Daniel, and Jonah, along with more than ten other writers. Yes, ten.
This is the only song that had so many people work on it, and I assume the label wanted at least one reliable track that was professionally approved, although 14 writers is a little excessive.
Daniel stated in an interview that when he shared a drum beat he came up with, they realized that it sounded similar to the beginning of “BLKKK SKKKN HEAD” by Kanye West. They ended up reaching out to West for permission to use his exact drum beat which was approved and is now featured in the song.
The song itself is about the excitement of the start of a new relationship and being hopeful that it continues positively. I’m not going to lie, I think “Fallin’” is overrated compared to others on the album that are filled with much more meaning. Apart from this, I was completely shocked at how different the style of this song is to their previous music. It’s almost glam rock which is drastically different from their previous cookie-cutter pop boy band sound.
Overall, while I didn’t care much for the lyrics, I do think that the vocals and instruments used (drums, electric guitar, etc.) made it a great choice to be the first track.
Track 2, “Slow Down”, is (pretty obviously) about slowing down in a relationship that’s moving too fast. Written by Corbyn, Daniel, and Jonah, the lyrics discuss wanting simplicity in a relationship rather than the heavy aspects that come with matured relationships. This song is composed mostly of acoustics and drums. The vocals aren’t anything crazy, but it gives listeners an opportunity to pay more attention to the lyrics and music.
Track 3 is significant in a variety of ways that aren’t necessarily visible on the surface. The title is “Lotus Inn” and was written years ago by Daniel and Jonah. They wrote it while sitting in an airport and then recorded their vocals for the song later that day in a hotel room. Daniel soon shared the song with his close friend Corey and he absolutely loved it, pushing the band to write more music. When Corey later passed away, the memories of him associated with “Lotus Inn” made Daniel want to include it in the album.
The lyrics are about taking chances and focusing on the good side of things. The track mainly includes acoustics and drums and I think it’s an excellent way to ease into my personal favorite, Track 4.
I hate being dramatic, but Track 4, “Be Myself”, is the best thing that you will ever hear. If you are not going to listen to any of the other songs that I discuss, I won’t be offended as long as you listen to this one.
“Be Myself” has the most perfect slow tempo and introduces “The Bad Times”. It was written by Daniel about Jack’s anxiety, and the song was never supposed to be on the album, it was only a sort of gift to Jack. But luckily for us, Jack wanted it to be on the album with the realization that it correlated with the album’s message.
The song talks about anxiety and insecurity, topics that are so real and widely relatable. All of the lyrics are beautiful, but I think that my favorite couple of lines have to be: “I’ve never had pride, for myself and I’m proud of that ‘cause I know that I’m just somebody else. So why do I try, try to find my validation in what everybody’s saying? I need some help.”
All of the lines are poetic and well thought out, and each of them relate to a common theme of overthinking and longing for self-love. I could write an entire article solely regarding the lyrics of the song, but to avoid that let’s move on. The music is slow and has calm guitar and violin, with the most simple yet meaningful vocals. I’m just saying, this song deserves much more recognition than it received.
Track 5 brings us back into “The Good Times” with a love song uniquely titled “Love Song”. This track was written by Daniel about his relationship with Franny Arrieta. Similar to “Lotus Inn”, this song has more meaning than it seems. It’s about the highs of love and the joys of having a close companion. A lyric that shows the substance of the song is, “[You] Pulled me in and kissed me in the rain and I fell for you, and my whole life changed.” I know it sounds like the description of a cheesy romance movie scene, but it is much deeper than that. This line pertains to the way that Daniel and Franny became close after the loss of their mutual friend (the ‘rain’), Corey La Barrie, and how she helped him heal during that difficult time.
All of the vocals were amazing in this song, but Daniel takes it a step further by nearing the edge of yodelling (no joke). Drums, keyboarding and synthesizing are the main sounds, which is the first that doesn’t have a clear acoustic use. I love how upbeat this song is, however it does sort of remind me of their old music for this reason (not in a bad way, it’s just very pop-workout-ey).
Track 6 is the only ballad on the album, and returns to “The Bad Times”. “Grey” is about a tough breakup and goes into great detail. It’s obvious that there was a considerable amount of emotion put into this song with the tone changes and lyrical meaning. I haven’t experienced anything like what the song describes, but the lyrics are so vivid that it makes me tear up every time I listen to it (I’m a crybaby though, so maybe it’ll appeal to your emotions slightly less than it does to mine).
A line that represents the graphic imagery is the beginning of the chorus, “Tears and slamming doors, I’m fallin’ out on the floor, begging, begging, please.” Not to mention the sentimentality in Jack’s voice as he sings it. The sound of this song is slow, apart from the chorus that I wouldn’t say is necessarily aggressive, but illustrates hurt. It features a large orchestra, my favorite part being the piano that fits perfectly with the song. Comparing the depth and beauty of this song to their old music, which was written by highly experienced music experts, is absolutely mind blowing.
Track 7 is definitely a part of “The Bad Times”, but the instrumentals don’t give off that impression alone. The lyrics of “For You” have to do with healing from a breakup and the hardship of moving on. It also discusses that even if they’re not in a romantic relationship, he will still “be there for” her.
A line that stands out to me is, “If we’re said and done I know I shouldn’t say that I still care, but I still care.” It shows the position that he is in: wanting to hold on yet recognizing that he should be moving on. The song has a very artificial and modern sound, consisting primarily of the keyboard and synthesis. This song is a very unique addition to the album.
Track 8, “I’ll Be Okay” has a very cheerful sound to it, but discusses nearing the end of a confusing relationship. It speaks about not wanting to be dependent on other people and that while it’s hard to be alone, it’s sometimes necessary.
“I’ll Be Okay” is similar to “For You” in the way that the lyrics seem indecisive, the sound is edited, and the tone is upbeat. A line that I enjoy from the song is “All it takes is time and some selfish pride to turn a love story on its side.” This line indirectly accuses the other of having “selfish pride” and that it ended up ruining the relationship. This aligns with the subject the song consistently brings to attention which is how it’s hard being alone, especially while you’re in a relationship. This makes sense that “selfish pride” got in the way of them being able to enjoy time with each other. This track becomes very interesting when you examine the lyrics, but no matter how you look at it, it does a horrible job of preparing you for the next one.
I am happy to say that Track 9, “Look At Me” is the shortest song on the album at almost a minute shorter than average. It begins with a figure that offers a nightmarish laugh for some reason, then proceeds to shout the title with the same horrific and aggressive tone. And that’s about all I can say lyric-wise, as there is not a single lyric other than the title that I can proudly type into this article.
I will say that I honestly have no idea why they were approved to release this, and how random it is coming after such beautiful songs. Similar instruments from previous tracks are used, mainly drums and keyboard. Now, the only interesting thing about this song that I noticed was the end. Okay but seriously, the end of the song flawlessly flows into Track 10 and it took me a moment to realize that it was a completely different track.
Track 10 is the outro of the album and has the title “Stay”, which is very fitting. It’s about accepting letting someone go, but wanting closure. The lyrics talk about how the person changed from the beginning of the relationship and that it’s hard to recognize that they’re not the same anymore. A piece from the song that represents this is, “I don’t know, know you, anymore. Tried my best to forget you, but I know that I’ll still miss you.” The sound of this song reminds me of “I’ll Be Okay”. I understand why this was the outro song, and I think that if it was up to me I would have chosen it as well as it would have led to a wonderful show finale.
I absolutely love this album and I am so happy that they had the opportunity to share their own music. Many of these songs were written or began forming throughout their four year journey as a band, but they weren’t sure that they would ever be able to release it.
The bandmates, especially Daniel, put a lot of determination and sacrifice into this album. It’s a lot to think that they put their entire career on the line so that they could let out at least one album that people could actually relate to instead of something superficial that’s certain to make money. I hope that people are able to look past their old music and give this album a chance, knowing that this is what they’ve been longing for for years.