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"The Maybe Man" on Spotify
"The Maybe Man" song-by-song review
Maybe Man

"I wish I was me, whoever that is/I could just be and not give a sh**/Hey, I'll be whatever makes you a fan/'Cause I don't know who the h*** I am"

As the first song on the album, "The Maybe Man" sets the scene for our unlikely hero, Jack, as he sings a string of dreams and doubts he has for life. Like AJR's previous albums, "The Maybe Man" acts as the overture — but not in the way fans were expecting. Unlike their previous albums, each stanza in The Maybe Man corresponds to a different song in the album:

Verse One: "Touchy Feely Fool," Verse Two: "Yes I'm a Mess," Verse Three: "Turning Out Pt. iii," Verse Four: "Steve's Going to London," Verse Five: "The Dumb Song," Verse Six: "Hole in the Bottom of My Brain," Verse Seven: "The DJ Is Crying For Help," Verse Eight: "I Won't," Verse Nine: "Inertia," Verse 10 and 11: "God is Really Real" and Verse 12: "2085."

In the outro, Jack belts the lyric, "Here I go again," signaling the cycle between life, death and self-discovery is starting once more for the listener and The Maybe Man. While I'm still unsure about the tone change over halfway through the piece, it still a very impactful way to start the album.

Touchy Feely Fool

"I'm screwed/But, hey, what can you do?/I'm a touchy feely fool/I would give anything to not give a sh** about you."

This song is a people pleaser's anthem. Despite the red flags, AJR encapsulates the inability to leave someone with obvious red flags and how it mentally affects an individual. I love when Jack screams his frustrations into the pre-chorus, but it switches back to the happy chorus because a people pleaser will continue please, of course. The more I listened to the song, the more I adapted to the ending, and now I very much enjoy this number.

Yes I'm A Mess

"And I took a job for just July/But feels like I might be here for life/Yeah, I’m in it now, I'm in it now/Could I start again somehow?"

"Yes, I'm A Mess" almost immerses the listener into a western movie set in 2023. From the whistling to the steady drumming, the listener voyages on through life while conscious they are making more of a mess of it. It's relatable and catchy, and you'll find yourself whistling along soon, too.

The Dumb Song

"When we go down/When kingdom come/Don't look at me, don't look at me/I'm just too dumb." 

While this song is called "The Dumb Song," it spotlights the painful feeling of perceiving yourself as "too dumb." With gang vocals inspired by the Beach Boys, horns and guitar give the song a facade of being lighthearted, but also give weight to the insecurity of stupidity.

Inertia

"I'm an object in motion, I've lost all emotion/My two legs are broken, but look at me dance/An object in motion, don't ask where I'm going/'Cause whеre I am goin' is right where I am." 

This is my personal favorite song of this entire album. Inertia focuses on someone who knows their life is messed up but doesn't try to do anything to change the trajectory. This song highlights the numbing experience of living a subpar life and the general feeling of being lost, which is something I can definitely relate to. Though I wish the drums and horns hit harder, it's the song I connect with the most, and I will continue listening to it on repeat.

Turning Out Pt. iii

"'Cause half the time I can't love right/And I'm half yours, and you're all mine."

Turning Out Pt.iii ends a beloved trilogy, written and lived by Ryan Met. After the previous songs question being ready for love and whether the feeling is actually love, this song illustrates the anxiety of wondering if you are on the right path with this person. While this song dances around dreams and doubts, it feels like the big hug Ryan needed and a reminder that love is little, quiet and worth waiting for.

Hole in the Bottom of My Brain

"Heads up, I'm sorry to be that guy/Heads up, I'm lookin' to just get by/Let's just say, let's just say we're fine." 

Inspired by the children's song, “There’s A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea,” this song illustrates the constant feeling of missing something. The dichotomy of a children's song melody while mentioning heavier topics of addiction and struggling mental health is an interesting choice. I didn't agree with it at first until I realized the interesting irony of song. While the lyrics are stronger than the melody in this piece, it deserves a listen.

The DJ is Crying for Help

"Oh, hired, hired, can I get hired?/Yeah, I fu**** up, but I did it my way/I'm tryin', tryin', I can start Friday/Gettin' a life's a little like dyin'."

This is another top pick of the entire album for me, ever since it came out as a single all the way from November 2022. As the song title suggests, the singer is crying for help. They don't know what to do or what step to take next. The violin after the chorus ties seamlessly alongside the gang vocals, and the melodies together sound similar to what a panic attack feels like. As someone who has had panic attacks before, it's almost comforting to find a song that illustrates the internal commotion. This is one of the songs where the powerful music production shines through.

I Won't

"So I do what you tell me to and do it to death/But I can't do this sh** again."

This song is meant get your head banging along with its simple drums and rhythm. With the fast-paced singing, it feels like all the thoughts in the singer's head are finally getting out and recognizing the emotions and ideas they had been holding back. It's a thought-train song — a great song to simply just vibe and sing along with.

Steve's Going to London

"While you try to find some meaning in your life before you die/Here's a bunch of random sh** to waste your time."

This song didn't sell me at first because, unlike the rest of the album, it didn't have the same emotional hold or bigger meaning. But that's part of the point — it serves as the album's brain-empty track: a song about writing song. Add in the gang vocals bringing the song together, and it is a fun listen overall.

God is Really Real

"God is really real when you really, really need Him/Karma just appears when you suddenly believe it." 

This is the most emotional song of the album. Whether you are religious or not, "God is Really Real" highlights the desparation one feels when a loved one is close to the end. You hear it in Jack's vocals, and you hear it in the rise of the guitars and choir. It's a beautiful track for anyone who has ever lost someone.

2085

"So if this is me, then I'll do my best/I'll take all the sh** so you'll never have to/You can be you, and I'll be the rest/Yeah, maybe that's who the h*** I am."

The ultimate conclusion to the album is incredible. While on the first listen it feels as though two songs are strung into one, it works in the context of "The Maybe Man" as a whole. He is able to reflect on what he learned — the value of connection, creativity and constant growth  — and say so in both a warm, guitar-driven piece and a larger-than-life ballad all tied in one song.

One of my favorite aspects of the song is after Jack repeats how "you" need to get better, he states, "I gotta get better; I'm all that I've got." To me, this alludes that there is a part of The Maybe Man in each of us; when we get lost in life, we all need to be reminded that we have to keep going at whatever pace is best for us.

Column: AI voice deepfakes signal deep trouble

Duolingo%2C+Dictionary.com%2C+TED+and+The+Washington+Post+respectively+show+a+learning+exercise%2C+%E2%80%9CWord+of+the+Day%2C%E2%80%9D+motivational+speech+and+an+opinion+article.+Users+are+able+to+browse+and+practice+language+skills+on+these+sites+to+maintain+independence+in+human+voice+with+the+rise+of+AI+deepfakes.+%28Graphic+Illustration+by+Allie+Yang%29
Photo credit: Allie Yang
Duolingo, Dictionary.com, TED and The Washington Post respectively show a learning exercise, “Word of the Day,” motivational speech and an opinion article. Users are able to browse and practice language skills on these sites to maintain independence in human voice with the rise of AI deepfakes. (Graphic Illustration by Allie Yang)

Given that people speak 7,117 languages worldwide, speech is a universal experience that transcends social barriers and cultural lines. While thought of for centuries as uniquely human, spoken word has recently been tested with artificial intelligence as the speaker, resulting in shockingly accurate voice deepfakes — AI voices that are specifically crafted to sound human.

AI-generated voices are not a new concept. According to The Verge editor David Pierce, well-known technologies like Alexa, Siri and Waze have relied on AI-generated voices to operate for years. Although technologies can implement AI to help some people regain their voice, AI voice deepfakes train themselves on hours of human dialogue to sound like real people.

Deepfakes, when paired with unethical intentions, can be used for identity theft. Information security company Pindrop reported it receives 1,000 to 10,000 calls made by fraudulent voices per year and up to 20 a week. These calls are not merely spam or advertisements, but rather the first step to secure confidential information or withdraw large sums of money from a bank. New York Times reporters Emily Flitter and Stacy Cowley reported that in the past three years, “300 million people fell into the hands of hackers, leading to $8.8 billion in losses.”

Some means of deepfake generation, like typing requests in real-time, can be spotted by those on the other end of the line. With the technology’s rapid advancement, though, scammers can now type prompts or speak requests into a microphone in order to quickly translate speech in the targeted voice.

Deepfakes can also be dangerous for entire professions. Because they are cheaper to use than human labor, AI voices have put commercial voice actors out of a job abruptly. Any recording they’ve made in their career could have served as an extra piece of data for the AI training companies, refining budding deepfakes to be precise clones of their human competition. This phenomenon is truly ironic: humans are being replaced by the very technology they unknowingly helped train.

AI voices have certainly come a long way from their rudimentary 19th-century predecessors, like Wolfgang von Kempelen’s “boxlike contraption that used bellows, pipes and a rubber mouth and nose to simulate a few recognizably human utterances.” Apps and websites like Personal Voice on iOS 17, ElevenLabs, Descript and Microsoft’s VALL-E let anyone create their own AI voice in a matter of days.

The accessibility of these technologies puts individual voices at risk in an unprecedented capacity, which is why it is all the more important to exercise control over one’s voice. And, as deepfakes further blur the line between human and robot, it is important to continue to celebrate and preserve the individuality and diversity of language as a whole, even in small ways.

For me, this meant relearning Chinese after several years of not speaking it with the app Duolingo. Reconnecting with a forgotten language helped me strengthen family relationships and communication, and language learning sites can help people restrengthen their identity as a whole. This could mean using a thesaurus or a word of the day to challenge your conventional diction. This could mean listening to TED Talks to absorb new ideas that expand your opinion, the truest form of “voice.”

Human voices are comprised of complex acoustics, nuances and physiology, making them individual no matter what. We can utilize them to express our most trivial preferences or confess our deepest beliefs, unlike a deepfake, which is only used as a profitable tool in an anonymous scheme.

Moreover, a voice’s sound is shaped by one’s family from birth, and what it conveys changes in step with the individual. A voice’s ability to adapt to the person it belongs to is crucial; it is exactly what a deepfake is missing. The word “fake” is in the name itself and the antithesis of the human experience, which, no matter what, cannot be replicated with clicks on a keyboard and searches in a database.

We are surrounded by billions of voices, each a reflection of someone’s particular worldview that contributes to the candid, imperfect symphony that is our world. To let a group of hackers, websites or scam calls rob us of our vocal agency is a disservice to humanity. As emeritus professor Klaus Scherer once said, “The voice is not easy to grasp.” For it to remain ours, we must hold on tight.

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About the Contributor
Allie Yang
Allie Yang, Columnist
After serving on Archer's yearbook, Hestia's Flame, for a year as a staffer, Allie Yang joined the Oracle as a senior reporter in 2022. She became a columnist in 2023. Her column discusses aspects of rising technology such as AI, social media, and more.

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