Rockie Brown is from Las Vegas. However, her single “Hero,” taken from her Mad World EP, doesn’t sound like a song about her Sin City hometown. She begins by admitting she’s a slave to the 9 to 5. However, the last thing most people aim to do when in Vegas is slave at a 9 to 5 job. Furthermore, even as a resident, Brown is a singer, which is anything but a 9 to 5 role.
Brown raps, as well as sings, but she doesn’t rap on this track. Instead, she sings with an ominous, smoky-voiced tone. That is, of course, until she gets the chorus, where she really lets it out. “I want to be your hero,” she announces, hopefully.
The track begins with moody percussion until off-putting vocal effects come in. Prior the vocal kicking in, there’s a woozy electric guitar instrumental intro. Brown then sings with god-like confidence about healing scars and doing everything she can to paint herself as a superhuman hero. This is a position so much deeper than merely obsessing over a guy. In fact, if a potential romantic partner ever said that to me, I’d be a little scared, honestly. That’s just too passionate. Most people aren’t looking for a hero; they just want companionship.
This song was approved for NPR’s 2019 Tine Desk Contest, so it’s getting attention from some important music discovering ears. Her singing voice is unique. It has a richness you don’t hear much these days. Too often, the Halseys and Ariana Grandes of the world – even Taylor Swift, to some degree – have a little girlishness to their singing voices that can rub more mature music listeners the wrong way. Brown sings like one with more experience than the average contemporary female singer. She comes off as a determined woman in this song, not a giggly girl.
Hearing Rockie Brown’s single is a little bit like discovering Alanis Morrissette’s music for the first time. Like Morrisette, Brown isn’t trying to compete at the lower level of the barely-past-teen singers. No, like Morrissette, she wants to bring female music up to the womanly level. And that’s a good thing because there’s more than enough immaturity in today’s pop music. Where are the voices of experience? Where are the women asking the big questions of life?
They just don’t make ‘em like Billie Holiday anymore. When Holiday sang “Strange Fruit” back in the day, she was using a metaphor for the sin of lynching. Even today, that song is a shocker. It was a strong female artist taking the chance that her informed audience would ‘get’ what she was doing artistically. Similarly, Brown is kind of taking a chance that informed audiences will recognize the depth of her perspective and appreciate what she’s done with “Hero.”
“Hero” is a word that appears a lot in pop songs. One of David Bowie’s best was titled “Heroes,” in fact. However, it’s not always cast in a romantic context. This one is, though. If the object of this song isn’t scared off by the dramatic words to this song, he might just find a soulmate in Brown’s heroic figure. If nothing else, this is gut level honest songwriting.