Carson Ferris - “1999” ~ This pop hit aptly named exudes 1990s vibes!
Carson Ferris is a budding pop star from Provo, Utah – which I presume means he’s a Mormon. That’s a good place to start – the Latter Day Saints have produced pop luminaries such as Brandon Flowers and Brendan Urie off the top of my head, not to mention the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a few extremely musically talented personal friends of mine. He’s been hitting the stages at events and festivals around Provo and was featured in Donny Osmond’s Las Vegas show, so clearly, he’s doing a few things right.
On “1999,” Ferris bursts into your ears with what sounds exactly like the title suggests. Big orchestral hits and a thumping, shuffling drum beat take me straight back to early Max Martin productions, and it’s not subtle that this is what Ferris is drawing on stylistically in this song. Ferris’ youthful voice, reminiscent of pop icons like early-Justin Bieber and Aaron Carter, lends a sense of innocence to the song. However, it may also hint at inexperience – while aesthetically pleasing, there’s a fine line to be walked between homage and originality, and I’m not sure Ferris always falls on the right side of that line with “1999.”
Ferris’ vocal prowess is the central force in “1999.” This guy has the makings of a standout performer for sure. His impressively clean delivery is top-class, and despite being young, he’s well on his way to being a consummate professional as a singer.
Lyrically, I’m not so sure about this song. The references to iconic pop songs from the era in question, namely “Bye Bye Bye” and “…Baby One More Time” are topical and align with the song’s sonic identity, I’m not really sure they add much besides a throwback cue that’s already more than overt in the instrumentation. Nonetheless, the melodies are very solid and Ferris’ singing manages to maintain interest throughout the song.
“1999” boasts a rich sonic palette, with highly polished contemporary production complementing a very deliberately nostalgic choice of instrumentation. This is where I come to the homage vs. originality point – this song feels more like an attempt at updating what Martin and company were up to back in the day, rather than drawing on it and looking to make something altogether new. I should say that as a huge fan of 90s pop, this doesn’t bother me – and it may well sound new and fresh to younger listeners who weren’t around for the days of having to repair Britney cassettes with a pencil. Regardless, I’d love to hear Ferris draw on his influences but also aim for a little more contemporary appeal.
Carson Ferris has delivered a commendable effort to bridge the gap between 2020s pop production and 1990s vibes. His vocal performance shines despite some questionable lyrics, and the production quality is top-notch in spite of its clear retro inflections. Ferris is young yet, though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if as he matures, we start to see his nostalgic inclinations subsumed into a more nuanced, contemporary style.
Listen to "1999" on Spotify here -
You can check out Carson Ferris’ website here:
A brilliant addition to the repertoire -