Romeo Dance Cheetah’s nine song release Magnificent Man showcases a songwriting talent quite unlike anyone else working in popular music today. Everything about Cheetah’s presentation indicates this performer has a rare, all-encompassing understanding of his chosen form and the flexibility to express himself in loving parody, imitation, and cut with a generous amount of social satire. There’s a lot of comedy in these songs, but it’s never juvenile or mean-spirited. The sheer novelty factor of the material runs the risks of obscuring Cheetah’s terrific talents for both songwriting fundamentals and construction alike. His long journey from small town Missouri to participating on the hit television show America’s Got Talent, Romeo Dance Cheetah has earned a lot of well earned attention because there is, literally, no one like this writing and working in popular music today. Magnificent Man catches listeners’ attention from the first and never relinquishes it.
The opening and title song announces Cheetah’s presence to listeners in a memorable way. This song is a full on strut that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but has a totally on point, well played musical thrust that proves entertaining. “Magnificent Man” puts his best foot forward musically and lyrically and gives him a chance to show off his vocal talents. The second song “35 Year Olds Dancin’” has rambunctious energy thanks to its simple, stripped down guitar riffing and the rhythm section’s verve, but the highlight of the song is Cheetah’s vocal and another humorous lyric. His nose for mockery is attuned for significant details while the lyrics and musical arrangement tightly lock up. It’s worth noting, as well, that Cheetah has great instincts for satire without ever getting nasty. He’s much more of an absurdist with his lyrical talents. “Party Poopin’” has a thunderous straight ahead beat reminiscent of eighties pop and a vocal attack that focuses on Cheetah’s singing with some tasteful backing vocals added for good measure. It’s a relentlessly commercial tune despite its quirky and humorous subject matter.
“The Air Guitar Song” is definitely one of the best songs on the album. Hearing him telling a sad sack tale while also poking fun at a nearly bottomless grab bag of arena rock clichés is an entertaining experience tied up with a strong vocal. There’s a clearer punk rock vibe on the song “Porcupine Love” and the absurdist aspects of his act are a little more tempered here, but effective nonetheless. It’s a real challenge to emerge with a real identity in this musical style at this late date in rock history, but Romeo Dance Cheetah has his own identity that you’d never mistake for anyone else. He really scores big with the song “Gone With the Wind” – it’s a standard love left me kind of song, in many ways, but he invests the song with dramatic qualities you don’t often hear and a convincing bluesy atmosphere. The album’s penultimate track “Laser Beam Makeup” is the album’s wackiest track with slapstick and hair-raising imagery alike. Cheetah gives an appropriately off kilter performance that fits the song well. Romeo Dance Cheetah’s Magnificent Man has some surprises, but Cheetah never exhausts listener’s patience despite brandishing a singular sense of humor and approach to music that challenges listeners while taking on familiar forms.