Best of Both Worlds

Jared Lee walks line between mainstream pop and edgy rock

Jared Lee’s voice and music unite the worlds of American Idol and Coldplay. Maybe it’s his trained yet soulful phrasing combined with a Chris Martin-esque ability to write killer rock anthems. Or maybe it’s because his R&B hit “It’s Oaver (Goodbye)” actually appeared and sounded right at home during a heartbreaking segment (contestants being cut) from last week’s episode of American Idol.

“It’s a cool show and incredible platform,” Lee, an L.A. resident by way of Boston, says during a recent phone chat. “It felt great to see it on the screen. A marriage between the rock world and commercial pop is what I’m after.”

“It’s Over (Goodbye)” emerged from a painful breakup. Lee reveals that he went through a tough time.

“I wrote that song at a point when I felt empowered,” he says. “It’s an anthem about moving on, growing stronger from the experience, and taking on the world again.”

It’s that mix of bitter loss and sweet redemption that makes Lee’s approach refreshing at a time when pop suffers a schism between abstract (Arcade Fire) and saccharine (insert crappy pop star here).

“We’re stripping it down,” he says about his Feb. 26 appearance at Rock ’n Roll Wine at Rok Vegas. “It’ll be me singing and playing keyboards, with a guitarist/bassist and a drummer. It’s always fun to try different arrangements of songs.” Look for Lee’s debut—produced by Mike K (Nelly Furtado) for the Chrysalis label—later this year. Meantime, Lee will do his best to hook audiences.

“I love it when a voice just hits me, you know?” he says. “That’s the vibe I’m after.”

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