AJR: “I Won’t ” (First Reactions)

While “I Won’t” was technically performed numerous times already during AJR’s recent OK Orchestra tour (North American leg), I still consider this to be a new track because their studio cut is finally released today!!! This is likely the official bridge single paving the way to their upcoming fifth studio album much like how the smash hit, “Bang!” was for OKO.

Here below are my first reactions to the track and music video! Enjoy!

Philip's Music Corner Presents: AJR "I Won't" (First Reactions) July 29, 2022
Released 07.29.22 via Mercury Records

“I Won’t” by AJR

Lyrics: https://genius.com/Ajr-i-wont-lyrics

(All music video reactions are in italics.)

0:01 😈 – I wonder who did that loud maniacal laugh? Why did the song start so sinister?!?! Hmmm…?

0:04 🎤 – I love how fast Jack just gets right into the song. He’s definitely going to hype the crowd up with those lyrics the more they sing this on the current (international) and next tour! I thought it was an interesting production choice to have the “Yeah-eah-eah’s” be added in the first two lines to sound the way that it is. I hope Ryan does a full breakdown of this song and why he made this choice.

0:09 💛 – That intro/graphic! Seems like yellow is the central theme of this era (or perhaps just this music video only). I like how the letters have that wavy effect as if it’s in the water!

0:15 😮 – That timely wardrobe change! Imagine people can quickly change outfits IRL. What a time saver that would be!

0:16 👋 – I love the repetition of “hello, hello hello” to begin the first verse.

0:28 🛫 – Will AJR be touring in Acapulco, Tel Aviv, and or Japan in the next tour? Seems like they could be great spots to perform in! If you live in any of those places, how excited would you be if you got to see them perform in your home nation!? Comment below!

💕 – An ode to the past! The effects here remind me of the OKO Tour and Neotheater Tour when Jack walks on a treadmill while the background moves.

0:34 🥁📞 – I love the background tracks filled with what I assume to be bongo drums, various percussive sounds, and is that a telephone ringing too?!? Pretty nifty not going to lie!

0:38 📷 – Sitting on pavement with clean clothes!! I wonder if that’s sweat or actual dampened ground. Haha! A giant white teddy bear! Cue a series of non-instrumental objects acting like instruments!


0:46 😶 – WHAT ON EARTH, ADAM!!!

0:50 😊🤘💙 – The chorus is so infectious! Nothing but smiles and head bobbing!

0:55 🌊🤣 – Sitting poolside while all the action behind them occurs. Why does this remind of the King of the Hill theme song?!?

1:05 👂 – Again the repetition of words (“I don’t, I don’t, I don’t) are in play here. It makes my ears feel a great sensation!

😂 – The sharp transition here! Oof, their faces planted on the screen! They suffer for the art and I appreciate it!

1:16 🔥 – Bridge hits hard!! The collectively sung lines, “So welcome back and take a breath, you’ve come to life but I digress” reminded me of the feel-good camaraderie moment a la “Bud Like You.”

1:29 📹 – I like the camera angle here as the guys sit comfortably on the cushioned bench.

1:30 🎭 – I do want to note the sappy violins being strung all throughout the song. AJR loves to juxtapose the sad and weary with the happy and feel good vibes! I love this fusion of sounds!

1:33 👣👣 – POV: You’re the bug being squished by Jack’s feet as he plays spin the bottle! LOL!

2:00 🎧 – Using earbuds or headphones, you can hear all the cool distinct sounds used here. I believe the triangle is being used here if I’m correct.

2:12 👏👏 – Props for all the hard work editing this guys! I can see why it took a lot of painstaking efforts to do so with all these wardrobe changes!!

2:19 🏊 – Imagine getting to freeze time and sing at the same time right before you cannonball dive into a pool. Cool!

2:29 👻 – POV: AJR kidnapped you and want to tell you a scary story!

2:48 🔁 – Ok, time to hit repeat! *adds to playlists*

Interpreted Song Meaning:

There’s this push-pull dynamic in supporting what’s in the mainstream vs. what’s not. To follow the crowd or to do things your own way. Lots of pop artists make cash-grabbing, easy to listen to songs that don’t have a whole lot of depth to them, and still, they go viral no matter what. Sure they will get you hyped, but do they make the artist feel happy in the long run? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on their respective label(s) and their management team’s decisions in most cases.

Now that AJR has signed with a bigger label (Mercury Records) and their popularity soars further up the stratosphere with their next album era, we will have to wait and see if they will continue to be their most authentic selves OR attempt to commercialize themselves like other mainstream artists do.

In my honest opinion, I still feel like they will be doing things their own way with all the nuances, bells, and whistles we’ve all come to appreciate throughout their bright careers thus far but more listeners will flock to their fanbase as they do more promo work/appearances on TV, (see The Tonight Show performance) and book more pop cultural tie-ins/partnerships (e.g. another big major brand much in line like the one they had with Apple for “Bang!” or Google for “Karma.”)

I strongly believe AJR will not conform to mainstream norms but they are becoming more mainstream for their own uniqueness, charm, and captivating musical production values! They are redefining what’s mainstream! Other artists in the music industry will have to take note!

Final Thoughts:

#ICYMI: You can see their electric performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon here:

Credit: The Tonight Show Starring With Jimmy Fallon

I’m highly anticipating their next efforts as we get closer to the new era. They keep one-upping themselves with each album cycle! #impressed

As for the theme of the next album, perhaps it could be a space theme judging by the single art for “I Won’t” or it could be all about Jack’s hat which could rule us all?!? Lots to speculate here for sure!

If you like to hear the isolated instrumentals version of the song, click here.

What do you all think? Feel free to voice your opinions on “I Don’t” in the comments below!

Feel free to click through some exclusive photos/video that I took from when I saw them perform in NYC at Forest Hills Stadium:

Thanks for reading this week’s first reactions post on AJR’s latest single! I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I did.

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See you all back next week with more New Music Friday picks! Stay safe and happy listening! ✌️