A Great Big World - "Say Something" featuring Christina Aguilera

A Great Big World Say Something
A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera - "Say Something". Courtesy Epic

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Written by Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino

Produced by Dan Romer

Released November 2013 by Epic

Pros

  • Powerful lyrics
  • Christina Aguilera's delicate vocals added to the mix
  • Emotional piano and strings arrangement

Cons

  • No major missteps here

Review

A Great Big World's "Say Something" is a breakup song with a twist.  Instead of being filled with anger and desperation, it is a song expressing a powerful combination of humility, sadness and regret.

 It is underlined by a piano and string arrangement that adds to the emotion without sounding maudlin. At a time in which pop music is lacking in emotional ballads, "Say Something" sounds just right.

This song from A Great Big World was featured on the TV competition show So You Think You Can Dance in its original recorded version.  It had its very first appearance on the solo album by A Great Big World member Ian Axel released back in in 2011. When Christina Aguilera heard the song, she was touched and ultimately was included in a re-recorded version.  She joined the duo A Great Big World on stage to sing "Say Something" live on The Voice.  Her singing on the recording adds a unique resonance sounding almost as if she is the ghost of the lover to whom the song is addressed as she traces the steps of the lead vocal.  Wisely, Christina Aguilera keeps the power of her voice in check and instead sings delicately with a breathy tone of loss.

The accompanying music video also features Christina Aguilera. 

Lyrically, "Say Something" is masterful. The chorus "Say something, I'm giving up on you" is brilliantly evocative of the emotion felt when choosing to leave a failed relationship even though love still remains.  The lover is implored to make a statement that could potentially reverse plans, but, at least in this song, nothing is forthcoming.

 The arrangement of strings and piano sweeps in and at times threatens to overwhelm the delicate voices, but it is kept in check.  The emotion of the song rises in a powerful wave but never swamps the listener.

The duo A Great Big World first gained widespread notice earlier this year when their upbeat song "This Is the New Year" was featured on Glee.  Now they are positioned to climb even higher in mainstream pop charts.  A debut album Is There Anybody Out There is set for release early in 2014.  Keep an eye on A Great Big World.  Many pop fans will be eager to hear more.

Legacy

Prior to the release of the re-recording of "Say Something" featuring Christina Aguilera, the song had only sold 52,000 digital copies. After the live performance on The Voice of the duo with Christina Aguilera, "Say Something" debuted at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. They also performed the song live at the American Music Awards which helped it leap into the top 10. Ultimately, "Say Something" peaked at #4. It has sold approximately five million copies. The ballad reached the top of the adult pop radio chart and #3 at adult contemporary radio. In remixed form, it hit #1 on the dance chart. It was A Great Big World's first top 10 pop hit and Christina Aguilera's eleventh.

It was her second of the calendar year 2013 following the collaboration with Pitbull on "Feel This Moment."

"Say Something" earned strong positive critical acclaim. It won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo or Group Performance.

The duo A Great Big World found themselves with unexpected breakthrough mainstream pop success. With the wind of "Say Something" at their backs, A Great Big World debuted at #3 on the album chart with their first full-length album Is There Anybody Out There? The follow up single "Already Home" broke into the top top 25 at adult pop radio, but it failed to have mainstream pop impact. 

A Great Big World put together a follow up album When the Morning Comes. It was preceded by the single "Hold Each Other" which included vocals from rapper Futuristic. The song climbed into the top 25 across mainstream pop, adult pop, and adult contemporary radio but it failed to climb higher than #99 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The album When the Morning Comes peaked at #75.