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The Big Room

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The Big Room
TheBigRoomCover.jpg
Studio album by M2M
Released 9 November 2001
Genre Pop, pop rock
Length 36:56
Label Atlantic
Producer Jimmy Brolower
M2M chronology
Shades of Purple
(2000)
The Big Room
(2001)
The Day You Went Away
(2003)
Singles from The Big Room
  1. "Everything"
    Released: October 2001
  2. "What You Do About Me"
    Released: May 2002

The Big Room is the second and final studio album by Norwegian pop music duo M2M. It was released in Asia in November 2001 and in the rest of the world in early 2002. It reached No. 16 in Norway and No. 61 in Australia. Two singles were released worldwide from the album, "Everything", which peaked at No. 6 in Norway and No. 27 in Australia, and "What You Do About Me", which reached No. 46 in Australia.

To promote the album M2M appeared on an episode of the series Dawson's Creek and were selected as the opening act for Jewel's This Way US tour. Despite critical acclaim, sales of The Big Room were considerably lower than their previous album, Shades of Purple, which Verdens Gang attributed to a lacklustre marketing effort by Atlantic Records. Citing disappointing sales Atlantic chose to replace M2M as Jewel's opening act halfway through the tour, after which they returned to Norway and disbanded.

Background and composition[edit]

Interviewed in April 2000 following the success of their debut album Shades of Purple, M2M said that while they were already writing songs for a new album, they had no plans to start recording yet.[1] M2M either wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the The Big Room.[2] It was recorded over six days[3] at the Bearsville Studios in New York City. The album takes its title from the main space at the recording facility. M2M dubbed their style "organic pop", as the album featured all real instruments, as opposed to most pop albums which use computerised instruments.[4] Drummer Kenny Aronoff was among the artists who performed the live backing instruments.[5] The Big Room took a different musical direction compared to their first album, replacing their bubblegum pop image with a more mature sound.[6]

In an interview Marion Raven said their songs were always about their experiences and thoughts, and that this album's songs were "mostly about love," though also touched on jealousy and how they see the world.[7] She also said that while their first album was about finding out who they were as everything about recording was new to them, on The Big Room they knew exactly what they wanted, stating "We wanted to make a 'real' album. With a live band in the studio, with our songs and a producer we knew would listen to our ideas."[8]

The song "Everything" is aimed at Zac Hanson, who Marion Raven dated briefly while M2M were on tour with Hanson. According to Raven, once the tour ended he never contacted her, effectively ending the relationship.[9] The song "Miss Popular" is about "that one popular girl in school who goes around bad-mouthing everyone" then eventually "it all comes back to her", while "Jennifer" is about wanting to dislike "the girl your boyfriend is constantly comparing you to" but not being able to as she is a nice person. Raven wrote the song "Leave Me Alone" about a guy who dumped her then wanted her back, and wrote the song "Sometimes" when she was having a really bad day and wanted to just "get it out".[8]

Release and promotion[edit]

The album was released in Asia on 9 November 2001[10] and M2M toured the Philippines in December to promote it.[2] To promote the album M2M filmed an appearance on the episode "100 Light Years from Home" of the TV show Dawson's Creek in late February 2002.[11] The album was released in the US on 26 February 2002 and M2M were planning to promote the album and its lead single, "Everything", starting in early March, however, they were told by Atlantic Records that all promotion in the US had been put on hold until their appearance on Dawson's Creek had aired. Frustrated, M2M returned to Norway after only one week in the US.[12] They spent three days promoting the album in Norway, four days in Spain, one day in the UK, three days in Italy, two days in Germany, two days in Sweden, one day in Denmark and one day in Finland. M2M were disappointed with the amount of time they were given to promote the album in Europe, as ideally they would have liked to spend two weeks promoting the album in the UK alone.[9] Verdens Gang attributed the lacklustre promotion of the album to Atlantic's decision to save money following the drop in record sales in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Atlantic dropped many of their artists following the attacks, and while they kept M2M, the company put little money into promoting their album.[13]

"100 Light Years from Home" aired on April 17 in the US, and M2M were scheduled to recommence promoting the single and album in the US in May, before moving onto Mexico, Australia and Japan.[12] The album was released in Australia on 29 April;[14] M2M arrived in Australia in mid May.[3] They were selected as the opening act for Jewel's US This Way tour, which commenced on 14 June.[15] In mid July, M2M were removed as the opening act by Atlantic, who cited disappointing sales of The Big Room, which at that time had only sold around 100,000 units in the US. Shocked and disappointed by the decision, M2M returned to Norway.[16] The duo broke up later that year,[9] with both Raven and Larsen pursuing solo careers.[17]

Singles[edit]

"Everything" was the first single from the album. A music video for the single, directed by Chris Applebaum,[18] was filmed in Los Angeles in early September 2001. The single was released in Asia in early October 2001 and the US in January 2002.[10] It reached No. 6 in Norway,[19] No. 27 in Australia[20] and No. 44 in New Zealand.[21] The second single was "What You Do About Me". It reached No. 46 in Australia.[20] The track "Don't" was released in the US as a promo single.[22]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[23]
Billboard Favourable[24]
Entertainment Weekly B-[25]
Groove.no 5/7 stars[26]
Herald Sun Favourable[27]
The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Favourable[28]
The Philippine Star Favourable[2]
USA Today 2.5/4 stars[29]
The Village Voice Favourable[5]

The album received a positive critical response. James Hunter of The Village Voice called the album a "pop masterpiece," praising the singing, songwriting and decision to use live backing instruments.[5] Chuck Taylor from Billboard said the album featured "a decidedly mature acoustic pop/rock signature, belying the tender age of the act's two singers",[24] and also gave favourable reviews of both the singles "Everything"[30] and "Don't".[22] John Berge from Norwegian music website Groove.no gave the album five out of seven stars, praising the album's harmonies and saying it was guaranteed to be a hit with young people.[26] Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B-, favourably comparing the uptempo tracks to Hanson though stating M2M's vocal range could not handle the album's ballads.[25]

Elysa Gardner from USA Today gave the album two and a half stars out of four. Saying the duo deserved an "A for effort", she praised their strong vocals and instruments though labelled some of the lyrics as cliched teenage melodrama.[29] The Philippine Star said the album "retain[ed] the same young, sparkling kind of effervescene that made the group such a huge success".[2] The Massachusetts Daily Collegian gave a favourable review, calling the album "a crystalline example of the heights that teen pop can accomplish".[28]

Karen Tye spoke favourably of the album, saying they had "ditched the cutesy voices and effervescent ditties" and replaced it with acoustic pop and rock which occasionally bordered on country. She praised M2M for using "down-to-earhtunes and thoughtful lyrics" instead of revealing outfits to propel them into the limelight, unlike many of their pop counterparts.[27] Conversely, Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic was critical of M2M's new image in the album artwork. Erlewine said they had ditched their sweet and innocent look from Shades of Purple, for "lots of makeup, crimped hair [and] fairly low-cut tops". He gave the album four and a half stars out of five, concluding "If M2M needs to play up their good looks to sell an album this pleasing, so be it. This is an album that deserves to find its audience, even through tactics as blatant as that."[23]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Everything" Marion Raven, Marit Larsen, Jimmy Bralower, Peter Zizzo 4:11
2. "Jennifer" Marion Raven, Marit Larsen 3:08
3. "Don't" Marion Raven, Marit Larsen 3:27
4. "Payphone" Marion Raven, Marit Larsen 3:16
5. "What You Do About Me" Marion Raven, Marit Larsen, Jimmy Bralower, Peter Zizzo 3:05
6. "Love Left for Me" Marion Raven, Marit Larsen 4:15
7. "Miss Popular" Marion Raven, Marit Larsen, Peter Zizzo 3:06
8. "Wanna Be Where You Are" Marion Raven 3:26
9. "Leave Me Alone" Marion Raven 3:08
10. "Sometimes" Marion Raven, Marit Larsen 2:53
11. "Eventually" Marion Raven, Marit Larsen 3:01
Total length: 36:56

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits are taken from AllMusic.[31]

M2M Additional musicians Production Artwork and management
  • Kenny Aronoff – drums, percussion
  • Jimmi K. Bones – acoustic guitar, electric guitar
  • Miklós Malek – keyboard programming
  • Dean Sharp – percussion
  • Tom Wolk – bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, organ
  • Larry Alexander – engineer, mixing, string engineer
  • Jill Dell'Abate – string contractor
  • Femio Hernández – assistant engineer
  • John Holbrook – engineer, mixing
  • Ted Jensen – mastering
  • Craig Kallman – executive producer
  • Tom Lord-Alge – mixing
  • Rob Mathes – string arrangements
  • Nick Romei – pre-production
  • Tron Syversen – engineer
  • Peter Zizzo – composer, producer
  • Aliya Best – art direction, design
  • Jimmy Bralower – A&R
  • Skye Peyton – photography
  • James "Big Jim" Wright – photography

Charts[edit]

Chart (2002) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[32] 61
Norway (VG-lista)[33] 16

References[edit]

  1. ^ "M2M chats with fans on AllPop". Canoe.com. 3 April 2000. Archived from the original on September 30, 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d Gil, Baby A (8 December 2001). "M2M back with The Big Room". The Philippine Star. Archived from the original on October 6, 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Singles for M2M pair". Herald Sun. Melbourne. 16 May 2002. p. 36. 
  4. ^ "M2M makes real music". Herald Sun. 9 June 2002. p. F03. 
  5. ^ a b c Hunter, James (16 April 2002). "Everyone Hates Miss Popular". The Village Voice. New York City. 
  6. ^ "Fremdeles uforløst". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). 6 March 2002. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "M2M – The Big Room". Girl.com.au. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Craine, Charlie (22 April 2002). "M2M – Interview". HipOnline. Archived from the original on October 1, 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c "Her bryter Marion sammen i tårer over M2M-dagboken". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). 9 February 2013. Archived from the original on March 20, 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "Latest News". M2M Music. Archived from the original on 3 June 2002. 
  11. ^ "Debut i bikini". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). 27 February 2002. Archived from the original on 29 December 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "M2M frustrert over manglende USA-satsing". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). 17 April 2002. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  13. ^ "Går det mot oppløsning?". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). 23 July 2002. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  14. ^ "ARIA New Releases Albums – Week Commencing 29th April 2002" (PDF). ARIA Charts. Australian Recording Industry Association Ltd. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  15. ^ Barry A. Jeckell (1 March 2002). "Jewel Takes Labelmate M2M On The Road". Billboard. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  16. ^ "Sendt hjem fra USA". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). 21 July 2002. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  17. ^ Nelson, Michael (26 March 2016). "30 Essential Max Martin Songs". Stereogum. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  18. ^ "M2M – Music Videos". VH1. Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  19. ^ "M2M". norwegiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on June 29, 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  20. ^ a b "M2M". australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  21. ^ "M2M". charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on June 29, 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  22. ^ a b Taylor, Chuck (8 June 2002). "M2M Everyday". Billboard: 36. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  23. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  24. ^ a b Taylor, Chuck (4 May 2002). "M2M Resuscitation". Billboard: 70. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  25. ^ a b "The Big Room". Entertainment Weekly. 15 March 2002. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  26. ^ a b Berge, John (12 May 2002). "The Big Room". Groove.no. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  27. ^ a b Tye, Karen (28 April 2002). "Pop". Herald Sun. Melbourne. 
  28. ^ a b "M2M – Refreshingly Different Teen Pop". The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. 2 April 2002. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016. 
  29. ^ a b Jones, Steve; Gardner, Elysa; Mansfield, Brian (12 March 2002). "'Full Moon' puts Brandy into orbit ; Bobby McFerrin, M2M, Killa Beez also blast off". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 12, 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  30. ^ Taylor, Chuck (23 February 2002). "M2M Everyday". Billboard: 22. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  31. ^ "M2M – The Big Room – Credits". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 11, 2015. Retrieved December 17, 2016. 
  32. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Albums – Week Commencing 20th May 2002" (PDF). ARIA Charts. Australian Recording Industry Association Ltd. 15 April 2002. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  33. ^ "M2M – The Big Room (Album)". Norwegiancharts.com. IFPI Norway. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2015.