There are two reasons that a song might get stuck in one's head for several days and drive them nuts. Perhaps it is a well-crafted, hook-laden pop gem that is just too infectious to forget. And maybe it's just annoyingly offbeat enough to attach itself to listeners' brains like gum on the bottom of their shoe. Wes Cunningham's major-label debut, 12 Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking, contains examples of each. "So It Goes" is as catchy a single as anything that's ever hit college radio. Quirky enough to stand out but accessible enough to whistle along to after the first listen, it blends Latin influences with rap and folk-rock. "Say My Name" stands out as the hard-rocking, sneering album opener, and "Not Enough" is a bouncy, urgent track with dead-on Latin piano and mariachi trumpet work. Just as likely to grab the listener's attention is the muzak-samba oddity "Car Wreck," which does its best to simulate being trapped in a Mexican elevator with Herb Alpert and Burt Bacharach. Memorable, yes -- but also irritating. While the rest of the songs are diverse musically, they all make an attempt at goofy irony that either makes an artist endearing or aggravating. It cuts both ways here, making the stronger pieces carefree and whimsical, but when applied to some of the less catchy material it falls flat. Any artist who rhymes the lines "I'm a gospel singer" with "I like Jerry Springer" is either extremely clever or a bit of a goofball. Wes Cunningham seems to be both, and proud of it.
12 Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking Review
by Mark Vanderhoff