By Ian Mofford
Unless you track Lady Gaga cover songs on YouTube or go to Machine night club other than to drunkenly dance around in an attempt to score, you probably haven’t heard of Boston’s Queen of Hearts, a band formed by Berklee College of Music students in 2010. If a definition had to be assigned, the band’s overall look emulates the general feeling of the classic rock gods of yesteryear with a splash of homoeroticism similar to an Aerosmith/Adam Lambert love child. Typically seen performing in tight pants and equally tight shirts, front man Joe Bissell has been known to accompany his otherwise standard rock musician outfit with a pair of calf-high leather heels. Why you may ask? The answer this band would probably give you is: why not? Breaking the mold in terms of genre and sex appeal, Queen of Hearts promises to give you music that will “punch you in the face just as much as it’ll hug you tight.” Based off their musical actions thus far, I can report that they do indeed deliver.
As of today, Queen of Hearts has put on performances almost entirely comprised of hard-glam rock adaptations of popular songs, especially ones by the eccentric pop princess, Lady Gaga. Although it is in the works, this rock trio has yet to release an album. This being said, they do have a single, which is available for purchase on iTunes.
‘Bad Guy’, Queen of Heart’s first public step into the world of original music, is exactly what one would expect from them, in a good way, of course. The track begins with some distant, gramophone sounding a cappella vocals by Bissel followed by a heavy, fairly standard electric guitar introduction by band guitarist, Ameya Kalamdani. As the track continues, the sound remains largely consistent with their established goal of combining “melodic hooks with the intensity of futuristic, driven, heavy rock guitars.” Overall, the track does a good job of translating the band’s general attitude and personal aesthetic. A first time listener will ultimately be able to gain a fairly accurate idea as to what this band is all about. However, despite the fact that this single is rather catchy with its memorable chorus, I felt myself wanting just a little bit more every time I listened to it.
The production value was clean and relatively well done considering that much of it was created by college students. However, I was expecting, and hoping, it would reach a certain level of power and encompassing sound. Unfortunately, it never got there. The lyrics and sound arrangement give the listener an idea as to the band’s intentions, but the production doesn’t translate their hard rock attitude. As in many great songs, there is a moment when the music consumes you whole and seeps into your brain like your skull were a pumice stone. I believe this song has the potential but, unfortunately, there was only seeping.
In order for a song to be successful within a specific genre or market, it has to have this ability to consume. Not only do the lyrics and the notes have to be memorable, but also the production of the track has to wrap it all together. The lyrics and the notes are the cake and the production is the frosting. While the cake provides the majority of the substance, the frosting truly completes it. Song production is a rather intricate and complex process, which few have completely mastered. Especially in today’s music industry where technology allows us to do so much, there is a lot to learn and much more to master than there was twenty years ago. The all-encompassing sound I speak off typically only occurs with top of the line producers who work with musicians who are already successful. When Queen of Hearts gains success, which I’m sure they will, they will have access to a lifetime of perfect frosting. But in the meantime, we can have their cake and eat it too.