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Joshua Bassett - “Sad Songs in a Hotel Room” EP Review

Story posted September 26, 2022 in

“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” heartthrob Joshua Bassett released his sophomore EP “Sad Songs in a Hotel Room” on September 23rd, and it is filled with his most vulnerable work to date. Since the Disney+ show aired, teen girls across America have dedicated themselves to supporting his music, and this EP is no exception.

After the very public relationship and break-up drama with his former “HSMTMTS” co-star Olivia Rodrigo, Bassett has been candid with his fans about his struggles with mental health and the pressures of a life as a young actor. He previously wrote about receiving “death threats” in his song “Crisis,” and this EP details his hardships even further.

“Sad Songs in a Hotel Room” feels exactly like the title describes it- a collection of guitar led, lyrical ballads that he wrote while coping with his pain, and because of that, it is a raw and powerful body of work.

Every song on the EP utilizes a mixture of acoustic guitar, piano, and low-fi-esque backing tracks that sound like they belong in a New York City coffee shop. For this body of work, simple acoustic background music worked perfectly and did not distract the listener from Bassett’s well-written lyrics.

Bassett addresses the theme of relationships and the toll they’ve taken on him in songs such as “Sad Songs in a Hotel Room,” “Used to It,” and “Smoke Slow.” “Smoke Slow” is arguably his best work to date, with a depressingly beautiful chorus that says “but all that we are is all that we’ll ever be, ‘cause he’s the one waiting at home.” Whoever Basset wrote this song about is obviously taken, and that can be one of the most heartbreaking feelings for a young person.

He takes a more frustrated tone in “Used to It,” which is about a romantic partner who gaslit him. The lyrics “I guess I got used to it, you’d kiss me till I forget, you’re covering up all your sins, I blame it on us being kids” could possibly be aimed at Olivia Rodrigo, since they dated when Olivia was 16 and Joshua was 18. However, nothing has been confirmed regarding the lyrics.

Aside from romantic relationships, Bassett discusses more serious topics in the song “Lifeline.” It was inspired by his 2021 health scare after being diagnosed with septic shock and heart failure, when doctors said he might only have 12 hours left to live. The song goes through the process of how he called his mom after the diagnosis, prayed to “a god [he’s] never known” and tried not to cry or think about saying goodbye to his family.

“Sad Songs in a Hotel Room” is overall a good listen for when you’re craving something sad and vulnerable (let’s be honest, everyone has these moments.) While all of the songs sound very similar musically, the lyricism works to set the tracks apart and create an emotional sophomore EP for Bassett. However, Bassett might have to branch out with lighter subject topics in the future if he wants his music reaching audiences besides his die-hard fans.

Rating: 6/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Song: “Smoke Slow”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “LA”

 

Kaitlyn Murphy is a first-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email kvm6255@psu.edu.