The rock icon Ozzy Osbourne has released his long awaited twelfth studio album, after a 10-year hiatus. Ordinary Man has fine moments like vocals, lyrics, and featured artists; however, it falls flat on more than half of the record.
It features collaborations with Travis Scott, Post Malone, Andrew Watt (producer of Cardi B, Post Malone, and Juice WRLD), Chad Smith, Elton John, and Slash; however, it misses the mark on sustaining the excitement.
Audience is one of the most important elements that restricted this album from being one of the best modern Ozzy albums to date. Namely, the song cowriters have experience working for pop artists like Justin Bieber and Kelly Clarkson, which makes what could have potentially been metal material, merely generic rock-pop.
This pop influence is noticeable across the album which brings dissatisfaction for seasoned metal and Ozzy fans. However, for emerging Ozzy fans who may discover the artist because of the likes of Malone and Scott, a pop sound may be just what Ozzy and producer Watts were targeting.
The strongest aspects of the album are the lyrics and overall theme that Ozzy conveys. This album confronts complicated topics such as death, legacy, time, and drug addiction.
The 72-year old musician was forced to cancel his last two North American tours due to health complications he is experiencing with Parkinson’s disease. With uncertainties surrounding around the beloved rocker’s medical state, Ordinary Man’s lyricism becomes even heavier.
Immediately, “Straight to Hell” featuring Slash on guitar is a banger. The song confronts the dangers of drugs, singing “you’ve took the hit and now you feel alright, your dance be death so we must celebrate, I’ll make you scream, I’ll make you defecate, I’ll make you lie, I’ll make you steal and kill.” This tune has the best guitar solos on the album, as the rest of the LP is played by producer Andrew Watt, whose background in rock instrumentation is less extensive than the likes of a Guns N’ Roses legend.
The momentum from “Straight to Hell” comes to a halt with the following tune, “All My Life.” Continuing with another energetic tune would have had a positive impact on the listening experience; however, song two, along with “Goodbye,” and “Scary Little Green Man,” subdue what could have been a solid rock album.
Next, the title song “Ordinary Man” featuring Elton John addresses life for a rockstar after superstardom has eased: “I was unprepared for fame, then everybody knew my name, no more lonely nights, it’s all for you, I have traveled many miles, I’ve seen tears and I’ve seen smiles, just remember that it’s all for you. Don’t forget me as the colors fade, when the lights go down, it’s just an empty stage.”
Ozzy brings up on multiple counts throughout his album the idea of remembrance. As he struggles with his health it seems that he contemplates what his legacy will be. Again, heavy content that really adds a layer of depth to the album and makes it worth listening to. “Holy for Tonight” is certainly one of those songs that ponders what life’s final moments will feel like. He asks, “what will I think of when I take my final breath? I’m runnin’ out of time forever, I know I’m someone that they won’t remember.” The concept of a legacy and being remembered once again troubling Ozzy in the face of his impending farewell tour.
“Under the Graveyard” is the one of the best songs on the album. It has an accompanying music video and tells the story of a young Ozzy, circa 1979 being saved by his wife Sharon from his toxic drinking habits. It is one of the most traditional Ozzy sounding songs that staggers from slow, reminiscent sounding guitar, to harder percussion and haunting vocals at the chorus.
Lastly, the album switches gears to the climatic and exciting song, “It’s a Raid,” which recalls the Black Sabbath days when he was almost busted for cocaine while recording Vol. 4 in his Bel Air home. The singer sounded an alarm that triggered police to come to his home, prompting him to snort all of the evidence and scream the title “It’s a Raid.”
That influential and aggressive background to the song adds a level of excitement where listeners can clearly hear Ozzy having fun. Post Malone is featured on the track, meaning that a diverse audience may be introduced to Ozzy through this tune. This is a great modern Ozzy song for new listeners to be exposed to.
While there are high moments on the album like Ozzy’s stellar vocals and lyrics, more than half of the songs are skippable and underwhelming. We can only hope that it won’t be Ozzy’s last.