John Mayer’s Continuum came out on September 12th, 2006. Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds also came out on September 12th, 2006. As a fan of both singers, I was a pretty happy camper that day. Remember the days before streaming when you had to wait until you got home after work to really dig into a new record? It was an exercise in patience getting home to Jersey that night.
I can’t remember in which order I played the two albums, but I do remember being somewhat underwhelmed by Justin’s albums and feeling like Continuum blew it completely out of the water. Sure, FutureSex was somewhat innovative from a production standpoint, but I’m a lyrics guy, and Justin, for all of the good things about him, can’t carry John Mayer’s jockstrap from a lyric-writing standpoint. JT’s album sounded fine and had a couple of bright spots. John made a legit great album.
When the next year’s Grammys aired, the albums found themselves butted against one another in the Best Pop Vocal Album category. John Mayer won, and when his name was announced, the camera quickly focused on JT looking mad butthurt. The Grammy voters made the right choice.
Also, here’s my OG review of Continuum on Popmatters.
Anyway; “Dreaming With A Broken Heart” finds John venturing into piano ballad territory. He’s suffering from a breakup, and keeps imagining his beloved only to wake up, face reality and realize she’s gone. It’s an emotionally affecting piece, and John plays the wounded lover quite well.
NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…
“A Dream” by DeBarge (1983): Not a DeBarge fan? Perhaps you’re a 2Pac fan. Or a BLACKstreet fan. Or just someone who was listening to the radio in 1996/1997 and heard ‘Pac’s “I Ain’t Mad At ‘Cha” or BLACKstreet’s “Don’t Leave Me” once every half hour. Both songs sampled “A Dream”. The original is better than either of the songs that sampled it, with a unique-sounding Latinesque groove. “A Dream” also features a rare Bunny DeBarge lead vocal and some creamy harmonies by her brothers.
“Dream On” by Aerosmith (1974): “Dream On” put Aerosmith on the map, presaged the power ballad, and has remained a rock radio staple for nearly fifty years. It also introduced the signature Steven Tyler shriek, and it hasn’t been anywhere near as effective since, even though that hasn’t stopped the Aerosmith frontman from crawling back to it over and over and over again.
“Dream On” by Robyn (2008): A lullaby to all the fucked up, broken people in the world; tonight, while you sleep, you and everything and everyone is okay. Robyn is like our Swedish fairy Godmother.