2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Graphic by Sylvia Lopez

Oliver Tree becomes Cornelius Cummings in Alone in a Crowd

By Leonie O’Sullivan, October 16 2023—

The first question you might ask is who is Oliver Tree? You probably already know some of this internet sensation’s music, especially if the global pandemic accelerated your transition to TikTok in 2021. Tree’s hit song “Life Goes On” trended all over TikTok and was a massive success for the deluxe version of his debut album, Ugly is Beautiful, with over 321 million views on YouTube. With alternative pop and rock flavours, Tree’s music is too diverse to fit into one genre box. 

After his debut, the not-to-be-taken-so-seriously artist switched his bowl cut for a cowboy hat and released Cowboy Tears. Like his debut, this album featured beautiful storytelling. Online critics believed the sophomore album suffered from a second album struggle, but I thought this album was extremely unique and creative. I especially liked how he tackled toxic masculinity with the “Cowboys Don’t Cry” track. 

On September 29, Tree released Alone In A Crowd, carrying a look and a sound more reminiscent of his debut album. Each album treats us to a new Tree character. The music video for “Bounce” shows the birth of male model Cornelius Cummings, who sports a bob haircut with bangs. While the racy lyrics don’t leave much room for interpretation, the music video tells a different story about how his look was altered to fit in and how he is only valued for his performances. 

Just like the beginning of many new relationships, the start of the album is full of anxious attachment. “One & Only” and “Essence” exemplify this best and describe a dependent love. The former is similar in energy to “Bounce” and is bursting with beats. “Essence” (featuring Super Computer) takes the album on a new trajectory, opening up with impressive high-pitched vocals before transitioning to a softer tone. The music video crosses a bunch of lines and is full of mayhem and chaos.

If you find yourself in need of some reassurance, listen to “Star,” which opens up with a guitar riff before quickly switching to goosebump-inducing drums. “Smile” is another love-themed song but with more complexity as it contrasts the desire to stay with your loved one against the need to leave for work. The anxious love train continues with “Highlight Of My Life” and “The First Night.”

Some cracks in the relationship appear with “Ugly Side.” Tree paints a picture of how their partner has started showing flaws such as attention seeking and emotional outbursts. The song transitions between Tree singing while playing the keys to him rapping alongside electronic beats, possibly alluding to cycling between identifying red flags and ignoring them. “Invisible Man” builds on this theme of hurt as Tree sings about how he feels invisible, but if his partner cared enough to look they would be able to see him. 

By the time you reach university, you have probably encountered some ‘Fairweather Friends.’ These are friends in your life that only seem to be around when it benefits them. Tree sings about how they are all in his G-Class Benz, possibly referring to how money can’t buy real friends who will always be there for you. My favourite track is “Strangers,” the lyrics of which inspired the album name. With each verse, the tempo picks up and bouncy drums come in. 

Tree tackles the complex job of singing about death and the afterlife in “Elevator To The Sky” before closing with the track “With You.” When listening to this last track, it seems like he is singing about running off with a partner of his. However, in the music video, we see him escaping from the hospital with his doppelganger, suggesting that he is singing to himself and practicing self-love.  

Like all of Tree’s albums, he has taken us on a storytelling adventure oozing with creativity. Tree tackles complex emotions exhibiting vulnerability, and softens the hardships he has encountered with comedic relief music videos. The more I listen to Alone In A Crowd, the more I fall in love with the tracks. Hopefully, we will be treated to a deluxe version of this album in the coming weeks. 

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet