After its many setbacks, Oliver Tree’s debut album, Ugly is Beautiful, dropped to streaming services. Featuring fast, chart-topping singles, “Hurt,” “Alien Boy,” and “Please Don’t Let Me Down,” the fourteen song record was over five years in the making.
Oliver Tree is the first of his kind in his genre, a living meme. As a character with a bold, caricature-like personality, anyone who has heard of the Alien Boy has strong opinions of him. Fans adore his eccentric creativity and critics are quick to judge his character as simple-minded and selfish. Those who follow him have chosen to see beneath the façade- Oliver Tree is much more; an alias for his music with a personality of his own.
However, critic or fan, everyone can agree on one thing. Oliver Tree will never turn down an opportunity to put on the theatrics, whether that is during a live show or when taking on the social media world. In this he has created an immersive experience beyond simply his music.
Over the years since the release of his first single, Oliver always kept fans guessing what he was up to next, and at some points, left them wondering if new music was going to be released at all. Regularly, music was delayed, or he would make outlandish claims for the sake of shock and awe.
Shortly after the lock down in America began, Oliver announced he was quitting the music industry, and not going to be releasing his debut album after all. However, anyone who followed his social media knew he was up to something far bigger than quitting.
Approximately a month after “retiring,” the Alien Boy took to social media to perform his greatest social media stunt to date.
In a skit played out over an evening on Instagram Live, Oliver had been kidnapped by a crazed fan, who deleted all of his posts on social media, announced that for a random of a set amount of comments on the post, the release date of the album will be dropped. Of course, the amount of comments needed to release Oliver and the album release date from his captor kept rising suddenly. And after two million comments, Ugly is Beautiful was set to be officially released, and Oliver Tree was freed. Read our post about the announcement here! Oliver made a comment after his brush with the hacker, “The person who held me hostage was a complete amateur to say the least. It was extremely apparent that this guy was definitely not a professional, rather a crazed super fan who desperately wanted my album Ugly is Beautiful to come out. It was a super scary experience and I’m thankful to still be alive.”
After more delays of the release date due to unpredictable circumstances throughout the year, Ugly is Beautiful has finally been brought into the world.
The album feels quick in comparison to how long fans have waited for its release, but maybe it has to do with the familiarity of the prior released hit singles. Track flow wise, each song blends in with the next like soft butter, telling the story of Oliver Tree’s journey as a character and as an artist.
“I am super proud to finally share my magnum opus,” he stated on social media on Thursday evening. To attain the full experience, I highly recommend listening to the enhanced version of the album on Spotify. Provided with animated GIFs and a story line along with each track, the album is a well-oiled concept about the life defining Oliver Tree.
The album starts with “Me Myself and I,” a new song starting off with steady strums of an electric guitar. Soothing, and inspiring, Oliver expresses the joys in being uncompromisingly yourself, no matter what. Growing up, you are taught to fit in and to not stand out of the crowd, but Oliver challenges this standard and encourages his fans to speak out and to be yourself. “This song is about being an outcast. People feel like they have to keep quiet in fear of saying something stupid. In my experience, I’d rather say some stupid things than say nothing at all.”
The next track, “1993,” features up and coming artist, Little Ricky ZR3, who collaborated with Oliver in its creation. “This guy is on an entirely different level. He is the only other musician I have been listening to. In a few years, I think he is going to be the biggest artist on the planet. Follow him on Spotify for his upcoming mix tape coming this year.”
The subject follows the flow of the previous song; about how he stayed true to himself no matter how many times he was knocked down growing up. In this song, it really seems that he is content in who he has become as an artist. “This song is about growing up. I spent my whole life falling on my face, but I never let it stop me. I was named Oliver Tree when I was born in 1993, but it took me 26 years to really become Oliver Tree.”
“Cash Machine,” talks about the silliness in the pursuit of things we don’t need. Substances and the things you own don’t give you happiness, and from the outside, watching people do everything they can to get the things they want, they will only find that it is a fruitless pursuit.
“I spent the last three years touring and everything I own fits inside my fake Gucci carry-on suitcase. If you think you need money or material objects to be happy, then I feel bad for you. We waste the best years of our lives chasing after a bunch of stuff that we don’t actually need.”
“Let Me Down” was the single released upon Oliver’s retirement announcement, a tribute to the fan’s disappointment in not being able to hear the full album. After facing its trials and tribulations, it was clear that behind the scenes, Oliver Tree did what he could to make the experience enjoyable for fans. While live, he energizes the audience unlike anyone else, and performs his theatrics on social media and in interviews to create happiness and laughter in his own unique way. “I wrote ‘Let Me Down’ the day after I cancelled my album due to coronavirus. Cancelling the release of the album was devastating, to say the least. It’s important to understand that I’ve been writing and recording this album for five years. Even though the cancellation of the album was completely out of my control, I felt like I let a lot of people down, so I made them this song as an apology.”
Continuing the inspirational concept of the album, “Miracle Man” adds to the narrative; waiting for miracles to happen is fruitless. Sometimes you need to pick life up by the bootstraps and just go for your dreams. Do not let life get you down, and don’t stop trying to succeed in your passions.
On Spotify, he has written, “Don’t spend your life waiting around for a miracle. You gotta go out there and get your hands dirty and fall on your face a few thousand times. Not all miracles happen overnight. Some things take time to blossom. If you really want to bring a miracle to life, follow my simple three step formula: 1. WAKE UP; 2: GET OFF THE COUCH; 3: GO DO IT!!!”
“Bury Me Alive” is a dizzying track, starting with a ukulele playing in the background, then breaking down into heavy beats not unlike 90’s east coast hip hop, a blend of two unlike genres.
“This song is about the time I ate way too much acid on a family vacation to Burning Man. I thought I overdosed and was convinced I had died. I saw my own funeral and all my family members crying around my body. I ended up running naked through the desert for six hour and nearly did die that night. I am grateful to still be here. FUN FACT: Little Ricky ZR3 is the DJ turntablist who did the scratching during the outro of this song.”
The music video and single was dropped after the official album release date was announced. Shot entirely on his SnooriCam in one night within only a budget of six dollars for the balloons and “prosthetic,” which was merely PlayDoh, the visuals become slowly more and more like an acid trip as the edges of the shot begin to blur and spin with his movements.
Whether or not you realize it, you have most likely heard “Alien Boy” playing on the radio or on your recommended streaming services. As an instant hit, the song topped charts and went gold late last year. If you are feeling a little alien in your own world, this is the song for you. Oliver’s message is to stay true to who you are. The music video is paired with “All That,” which was paired on his Billboard hit EP Alien Boy. Making light of a traumatic experience that happened when he was a kid, Oliver Tree creates a nemesis figurehead that he defeats in the series of videos, performing all of his own stunts in the meantime.
“This song is dedicated to all the alien boys and alien girls. The human experience is so strange. Most of us feel like aliens at some point or another. Who wants to be normal anyways? That sounds so boring. This song is about embracing that side of ourselves, becoming who we want to be, and thriving so we can reach our fullest potential.”
“Joke’s On You!” is a response to the haters he has faced growing up and as his presence has grown as an artist. Instead of falling victim to the bullying and trolls, Oliver turns it around and uses it to his own advantage. If someone is going out of their way to hate on you, you must be doing something right in life. This song seems to fit the album’s title, Ugly is Beautiful, the most.
“Do you ever feel like your life is a joke? Every day I wake up, and look at myself in the mirror, and I think I look beautiful. A lot of people talk trash about me online, saying I am ugly, and all I can think is, ‘How unhappy with yourself do you need to be in order to go out of your way to hate on others?’ Learn to love yourself and learn how to laugh at yourself. STOP TAKING YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY!”
In a society that generally discounts mental health, the song “Again & Again” reinforces the need for awareness in our mental health, and in breaking bad patterns in our brain and thought patterns to find peace and happiness. “We are creatures of habit. Our patterns tend to repeat themselves again and again. Some for better, some for worse. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we will tend to repeat them over and over, again and again. The human brain is so powerful. We have the power to change our negative patterns into new and improved ones. Keep your head up, be honest with yourself, and cut out all the things that don’t serve you and your life.”
“Waste My Time” is an alternative rock bop, expressing how short life is and a sense of urgency in spending our time alive well. “Time is the most precious of all resources. There really aren’t enough hours in the day. I don’t have time for you to waste, so I won’t waste your time either. Do everything you want to while you are here. Our time is brief and over before you know it. FUN FACT: Little Ricky ZR3 played the violin during the outro.”
Another message to the haters, “Jerk” is raw and expresses the process in ignoring the people that go out of their way to mistreat and bully. In his message to fans, he says, “I think we have all met a jerk or two. We have all met people who we hope to never see again. It’s important to also understand that we have all been that jerk at some point in our lives.” Oliver opens up the conversation in his words with a fresh perspective. Though there are jerks in life, knowing that everyone has had their own moments of being a jerk. Oftentimes when we are hurting, we use that hurt and project it onto others. In knowing that the jerks are often hurting too, we can allow ourselves to empathize for them and it makes their words hurt a little less.
Another chart-topping hit, “Hurt” is another track that was on the Alien Boy EP. In particular, this song goes more in detail about the accident he endured at a young age, in which he describes the experience on social media as a summer without swimming and with someone helping him eat and perform basic human functions to live.
“This song is about a scooter crash that nearly took my life. I was competing in a freestyle contest during my senior year in high school. I drop in on this forty foot ramp, going 25 miles an hour, and out of nowhere, my wheel hits this little pebble. I go flying eighteen feet and put out my hands to break the fall. I got knocked out with a crazy concussion. I woke up hours later in a hospital bed with a broken left wrist, broken right wrist, and a broken thumb that required multiple surgeries and two metal rods through my hand for the entire summer.”
Reflective, and simply written, “Introspective” is unafraid to look deep within itself and say the things needed to be said. “This song is about getting lost in the thoughts that travel through our own heads. Sometimes we have things we keep to ourselves, things we might not want to share with others. Sometimes the right words don’t seem to exist. Sometimes we make assumptions. Just say it…”
As the perfect conclusion of Oliver Tree’s first and final full length album, you can almost see the credits rolling when listening to the song “I’m Gone.” As an artist who has regularly admitted his complaints of the music industry, it was plain he was looking for a way out of the box he was worried of being confined in.
“I’m gone! Oliver Tree is officially over! Ugly is Beautiful it my first album, and my last album. It was fun while it lasted, but this industry has sucked me dry. I can’t do this anymore. Thank you for listening. I love you all. PEACE!”
After facing its setbacks, Ugly is Beautiful has become the album that Oliver Tree truly wanted it to be. It took five years of writing and rewriting and remixing. The message is overall positive and encouraging to fans, inspiring them to never give up and to stay true to who you are, no matter what comes against you.
In celebration of his album release, Oliver took to YouTube to attempt to ride the world’s biggest scooter; as a grand finale before his official retirement from the music industry.
The video provides a new narrative for the character, “Oliver Tree,” one with good versus evil playing out, creating foreshadowing opportunities and many new fan theories as to what Oliver has to offer next.
Last night, Oliver announced that Ugly is Beautiful would be his first and final album, and that he was going to be focusing his future in film-making. No matter what, the intrigue and theatrics Oliver creates in his character will never stop fans from wondering what he really has in store for us next.
Oliver will be talking about his latest livestream in a podcast tomorrow morning; catch it HERE.