Romeo Dance Cheetah – Magnificent Man
You are forgiven if you assume Romeo Dance Cheetah isn’t entirely on the level. His satirical skills are so sharp that they obscure the serious talent driving the nine songs on his release Magnificent Man. The young performer, a Missouri native, grew up lip synching and making music videos heavily influenced vocally and in terms of presentation by performers such as Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury. His large YouTube subscriber base has been treated to a score of well produced videos both in a sketch comedy and musical vein and he surely garnered a larger following after his appearance on America’s Got Talent. Magnificent Man is likely the best possible representation of Romeo Dance Cheetah’s distinct talents and it isn’t any sort of puffery to pronounce it much different from anything else you’ll hear today. Rather than seeming to be limited by the nature of his act, Romeo Dance Cheetah’s future looks limitless – his songwriting imagination and performing excellence are so developed that there’s literally no subject out of his reach.
Cheetah really excels at invoking echoes of 1980’s-early 90’s AOR or arena rock. It has a harder edge than what one might have heard during its heyday, a concession to modern sensibilities perhaps, but the drum sound and production style have clearly studied the sound architecture of that area quite thoroughly. “Magnificent Man” sounds like a modern revamping of that sound with an individual style and energy that could belong to no one else. His unabashed preening and the exuberance of his vocal make this one of the album’s more entertaining experiences. Another of the album’s marquee numbers is “35 Year Olds Dancin’ maintains the same accessible sound defining the best tracks on Magnificent Man and he builds his vocal with such naturalness and relish that it makes the lyrics even more colorful and lively. “The Air Guitar Song” and “Gone With the Wind” show off two distinctly theatrical sides of their musical character – the former apes the style of arena rock anthems while filling it with Cheetah’s particular character and the latter is a respectful blues-like parody that benefits from one of Cheetah’s best vocal performances.
There’s more evidence of his songwriting prowess coming with “1970’s Disco King” and the song construction is even more of a highlight than usual thanks to the union of electric and acoustic guitars. “Laser Beam Makeup” definitely goes further afield lyrically than any song to this point on Magnificent Man and the sheer oddity of his observations gleans all the normalcy it can from his smirking, focused vocal. “Live the Dream” could scarcely sound more different. This, in some ways, is the most conventional musical and lyrical moment on the album but rings out with the same sort of heart defining his more comical efforts. The piano playing and vocal alike reveal a side to Cheetah’s talents only hinted at on the earlier songs There’s a little something here for everyone and, despite his odder inclinations, Romeo Dance Cheetah has a remarkably likeable, if unconventional, approach to mainstream pop and rock.