Loyal, ODESZA’s newest studio release is finally here. After playing it for years throughout their In Return and A Moment Apart tours, the duo finally decided to release the track.
Before the duo ever named the track, the people incorrectly dubbed it the remix of Alex Adair’s – Make Me Feel Better. However, in a Reddit AMA, ODESZA corrected fans, stating that it was not a remix, but rather an original song with the same sample, titled Loyal! In other interviews, the duo mentioned that they would not want to release Loyal as it was not “headphone music” per say. The goal of their released material was to make music that was timeless. In other words, they implied that the studio tracks would be downtempo, and the live material would have the flare that ODESZA became so well known for.
So why the sudden change of heart?
Without asking them directly, it is hard to say why they chose to release the track after stating they would not before. One reason could be momentum, the duo has been riding high since the release of their third studio album A Moment Apart. The album reached #3 on billboard, as they toured with new visuals, a new setup, new music, and a drumline (for every live show) to boot! They even managed to play just before the headliner, Eminem for Coachella. In order to continue the momentum, releasing a song in September, a year after their latest album just makes intuitive sense.
Another reason could be because of Apple. With the unveiling of a new phone and watch, Apple needed a high energy advertisement with some exciting new music. Strategically, it would be unwise for the duo to give Apple unreleased music. An unveiling of new Apple products in an ad has millions of viewers; naturally, new listeners will Shazam and Soundcloud the song. Releasing the song at the same time gives ODESZA an unprecedented amount of exposure.
Loyal has evolved throughout ODESZA’s set in the last 3 years. The first iteration which was commonly known as the 2015 Coachella trap song, was played towards the tail end of their In Return tour.
The second iteration of the song was developed for their A Moment Apart tour. This version incorporated new synths, ominous vocal chops, and of course the live drumline!
The third version includes a slight change to the intro, with a larger umph factor using the snares from the drumline.
The End Result
ODESZA finally released the studio version of the track with one huge change. Is it noticeable?
The Big Change
Before the track was ever known as Loyal, it was commonly referred to as the Alex Adair’s – Make Me Feel Better (ODESZA remix), because of the vocal sample. So where is it in the studio version? Instead of the vocals piercing through the track, a new vocal sample is sprinkled throughout. The vocal sample reaches its peak at around the 2:10 mark.
Unfortunately, I personally feel like this change mitigates the impact of the track. As an avid fan of vocal chops, I generally prefer tracks with a minimal amount of lyrics, as I detailed in my review of A Moment Apart. However in this track, because of its high energy, the lyrics give the track the extra flare to create the largest impact. The first three versions of the track all included the “Make Me Feel Better” vocal sample. The constant shift between the horns and the vocals give the track its depth; the studio version falls flat in this respect.
One possible reason for the shift could be because of the sample’s association with Alex Adair. The duo has always considered this track to be an original, however, the vocal sample had fans constantly calling it a remix. This could have been a way to distance themselves from the association. Another reason could be paying out royalties. It is possible that ODESZA would have to pay some amount of royalties to use the vocal sample since releasing the studio version means that the duo will profit off the song for the first time.
Regardless of the reasoning, it is a bit unfortunate to hear one of my favorite ODESZA tracks lose a little bit of its magic. However, ODESZA seems to be doing better than ever, and their success is bound to continue.