There’s nothing wrong with “Sweet Serendipity,” the bouncy debut single from American Idol season 9 champ Lee DeWyze. Rhythmically, it skips along like a smooth stone across a placid pond. Melodically, it could serve as the baby greens on a satisfactory lite-rock sandwich. But at the risk of overtaxing those ridiculous/disparate similes, it’s hard to imagine “Sweet Serendipity” creating a lot of waves, or becoming anybody’s favorite new flavor at radio. It’s a vaguely inspirational, vaguely catchy affair, tailor made for the middle third of a Katherine Heigl or Kate Hudson rom-com trailer. You know, the part where they show a couple of sun-drenched urban vistas and quick-cut shots of our working-girl heroine learning to let loose, be free, and put a little love in her heart. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, really. And though the song itself is a little generic, Lee’s gruff growl of a voice manages to not get sandpapered into submission by the major-label production; 15 seconds in, you know exactly who’s singing it. A couple other thoughts:
* Much like “Live Like We’re Dying,” the debut single from season 8 champ Kris Allen, “Sweet Serendipity” packs words into its chorus more aggressively than an overstuffed New York-style deli sandwich: “And I’m doing just fine/ I’m always landing on my feet/ In the nick of time/ And by the skin of my teeth/ I ain’t gonna stress/ ‘Cause the worst ain’t happened yet/ Something’s watching over me/ Like sweet serendipity.” Even with all the studio wizardry in the world, that “’cause the worst ain’t happened yet” line sounds like marbles in a paper bag. This isn’t going to be an easy one to perform live.
* To continue the “Live Like We’re Dying” comparison (because I can, and because they are not dissimilar ditties) I wish “Sweet Serendipity” contained some of the former song’s coiled energy. The tense guitar line of Kris’s track — combined with the drawn-out strain he delivered on “liiiiive like we’re dying” (not to mention the background “whoa-oh-oh-oh, whoa-oh-oh, oh-oh-ohs“) gave that single an intensity — a demand that you drop what you’re doing and pay attention, or at least sing along — that “Sweet Serendipity” lacks. Lee’s song is also missing the hummability factor of, say, Jason Castro’s “Let’s Just Fall in Love Again.” And if that one couldn’t get much traction at radio, how will “Sweet Serendipity” fare?
* From a thematic standpoint, Lee gets the slightly dubious distinction of hitting radio with a song that — thematically speaking — strikes the kind of fuzzily inspirational chord of an Idol victory anthem. “Set sail without a destination/ See where the wind will take you“? Uff da. Though I do kinda dig that worn-out denim metaphor in the first verse.
Listen below, then tell me: What do you think of “Sweet Serendipity”? Will it find a home in your music collection? Will it be a “Jesus Take the Wheel”-style smash, or will it go the way of “Over It”? Sound off below! And for all my Idol-related musings, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak; while you’re at it, get hip to EW’s Music Mix blog @EWMusicMix!