Friday, September 21st, 2018

LSD – Thunderclouds

Honestly this score is about on par for them, individually or together.


[Video]
[3.90]

Tobi Tella: Of all the directions the new LSD single could’ve gone in, “electronica meets doo-wop” is not one I was expecting, but Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo somehow really made it work. Labrinth’s smooth vocals with Sia’s intermittent wails and Diplo’s non-intrusive production all blend together to make something that sounds great, and the lyrics paint a great picture of a relationship getting devoured by anxiety and mistrust. It sounds super fresh on pop radio, and in 2018 that’s all I can ass for.
[7]

Dorian Sinclair: I briefly considered removing all the consonants from this review to simulate the experience of listening to Sia’s vocals, but I decided I’d rather be a little more comprehensible than ‘Thunderclouds’ itself. But while her approach to singing may be short on decipherability, it is long on expression — I appreciate when someone is obviously taking joy in the way things sound and the ways you can stretch and distort it. The rest of the song isn’t great, but even after all these years I still find myself responding positively to the Sia Schtick, and that stops the score from dropping lower.
[5]

Ryo Miyauchi: Whimsical pop arrangements are Sia’s thing as much as towering ballads, and “Thunderclouds” sounds like classic Sia Furler in both production and vocal display. Yet this collaborative effort also reinforces the theory that her trademark remains a rather insular one that only a special few from the outside can tap into. Labrinth is competent, though his attempt at lyrical whimsy runs more like a non-sequitur paired with what his partner offers.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Well, this is marvelous: a Traveling Wilburys devoted to cross-marketing banality.
[2]

Nicholas Donohoue: For as edgy as the group name is, this is somehow sub-G rated in sound. Not a clap, a spark, or burst in site, which makes the song title off. This is a song of lies textually, but also in basically ever other way. A shame that it sounds like how two minute chewed Juicy Fruit tastes.
[2]

Thomas Inskeep: The song and arrangement are very late ’60s pop, and Labrinth does his Childish Gambino singing/rapping. Neither of those entice me, and in fact I don’t care for either — but what particularly turns me off is Sia, whose voice I can’t stomach, ever. The obvious joke they deserve: this is one bad trip.
[1]

Crystal Leww: Would choose hearing Tinie Tempah saying ‘yeah!’ on repeat 500 times over one listen of this bird noise track. I hate that we’ve allowed for EDM-pop’s least talented stars continue to thrive past its peak, now making ‘pop music’ that isn’t particularly poppy. 
[3]

Scott Mildenhall: “You turned nouns into verbs” — admirable commitment to linguistic ingenuity from a man whose most famous song made a noun of an adjective. But what are words to Labrinth and Sia? Two powerful musical communicators whose heed to intelligibility is irrelevant in the face of the emotion they can evoke. “Thunderclouds” parlays a characteristic mix: half dejection ballad, half Cockney knees-up. Whatever they’re actually saying, “Thunderclouds”, in all its frayed enervation, says quite a lot.
[8]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: In collaboration, Sia and Diplo exacerbate the problems of their recent work — interesting textures, but no real song holding it together. Labrinth is here too and he’s just fine.
[4]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Some sort of unsavory bastardization of doo-wop that relies on the overblown vocal performances of its two main stars to stave off any inherent stiffness. The result is much like the artwork associated with the supergroup: dull at best and grotesque at worst, despite all the color.
[2]

Friday, September 21st, 2018

Freya Ridings – Lost Without You

This song is VERY VERY SAD.


[Video]
[5.88]

Scott Mildenhall: Evidently Freya is not one to be pinned down, but if she were to be just one of Yorkshire’s three ridings, which would she be? Of course, it’s a trick question — she is York, at least based on this song, with its lofty pretensions and concomitant sense of history, all somewhat at odds with wider perceptions of the county that bears its name. The sad difference is that Ridings does not have an amazing railway museum, but instead just some stately staleness about standing on a platform. Stick a choir on it and give it to the X Factor winner, just to make their victory seem all the more pyrrhic.
[4]

Alfred Soto: Lord forgive me, but “Lost Without You” sounds like ideal accompaniment to ASPCA television ads should Sarah McLachlan’s contract expire, so all-consuming its its despair. It hits all its marks. 
[6]

Kat Stevens: Given “Lost Without You” already sounds like a John Lewis advert, does that mean that 2019’s precious tot will be cack-handedly sellotaping up a present for their long-distance truck driver mother to a nosebleed techno remix of this instead? That’s something to look forward to as we push our Brexit sprouts round the Xmas dinner plate. Though, looking at John Lewis’ dire financial predictions and the fact that Clara will be firmly stuck in a 15-mile tailback of lorries at Calais, it seems unlikely.
[4]

Ian Mathers: It says something for how unadorned the despair here is that on first impression I thought the song had made the mistake of adding too much in the back half – but further listening and comparing to a live version made clear that this pretty much just is a voice and piano song. Ridings has one of those voices where the risk is she sounds like she’s sad because of a bad head cold as much as anything else, so the focus here on how bad the situation feels – and that the situation is one where everyone’s probably done the right thing, and it still feels that bad – is necessary to keep “Lost Without You” in the realm of devastating.
[7]

Alex Clifton: Freya Ridings’ voice is heartbreakingly intimate, the way it curls and breaks over certain words. I feel like I’m overhearing someone’s prayer in a quiet room. The best bit is the way she makes it sound easy with a featherlight touch; if there’s strain, it’s one of emotion, not of technical stretching. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a good piano ballad like this (the only other song that comes to mind was “Lost Boy” which, uh, was not great) and lands like a punch.
[7]

Crystal Leww: Like the relationship it describes, “Lost Without You” is largely subdued, quiet, and defeated. True to life, for a moment, the music picks up and Ridings voice is raised as if she’s decided that she wants to fight but as if she’s reconsidered her stance, she goes back to accepting that it’s a one-sided affair. “Lost Without You” is like “Goodbye My Lover” if it were actually, you know, kind of good. 
[6]

Anthony Easton: I do enjoy a vocal that catches near tears, and I like a melodramatic piano even more. The plod of this is almost a chore, but heartbreak so often is. Extra point for how she overcommits to cheap cliches. 
[8]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: “Lost Without You” accomplishes one specific thing: it stops you completely in your tracks, making it impossible to think of anything else once you press play. It stands above her other singles precisely because it features musical decisions that most effectively align with what Freya Ridings is trying to achieve. The absence of drums makes this more intimate than “Ultraviolet,” and the lack of chintzy single-note piano melodies allows for a fuller, richer experience than “Blackout.” And unlike the “Maps” cover, this has enough stretched-out syllables to keep listeners contained within the song’s cloud of reverb. Ridings really hits a sweet spot here, and her voice is more readily appreciated. Still, one wishes that the piano was even more minimal. It grounds the song a bit too much, and I’m often wishing that I could simply be cradled in the warmth of the vocals alone. Bereft of emotion this is not, but “Lost Without You” sells itself short by preventing full immersion into its one true wellspring of hurt.
[5]

Friday, September 21st, 2018

Girls’ Generation-Oh!GG – Lil’ Touch

Boring pap from remnants of legendary girl group, or proof they’ve still got it?


[Video]
[5.50]

Jessica Doyle: Admittedly, in my ideal world those SNSD members who need to leave SM do so with no acrimony or bad publicity, and Seohyun sticks around long enough to get that second prechorus. (Not to slight Sunny: I just prefer the lower-voiced sneering Sunny of “You Think” to any other singing Sunny.) But instead we get an apparent lack of acrimony, in contrast to what happened with Jessica (and Han Geng, and Jaejoong/Junsu/That Other One, and Kris/Lu Han/Tao, and that’s just SM, which these days looks positively sane and benevolent compared to the competition). Plus there’s Yuri and Yoona getting to be casually seductive as if they’ve been preparing for this through years’ worth of one-line appearances, and DJ Hyo, and a more relaxed, confident approach appropriate for a decade-plus of experience. Even if “Lil’ Touch” isn’t a harbinger of better labor relations in K-pop, and it likely isn’t, it’s still very good.
[7]

Ryo Miyauchi: A more concerted effort to revise the identity of SNSD has been long overdue, so the shake-up of its line-up has been for the better when it comes to the music. The lyrics may suggest otherwise as the group continues to play as this seductive band of women, a voice that has yet to feel as more than a performance. Yet the production choice is an assuring pivot as it reaches for a more regal, grown pop outfit more similar in feel to Taeyeon’s latest records than the club-minded dance-pop that defined the mid-decade of Girls’ Generation.
[6]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: “Lil’ Touch” was co-written and produced by LIONCHLD, a group comprised of Rachael Kennedy, Nathalia Nico, and Lance Shipp. Their work includes the following: Fantasia’s “No Time For It,” Britney Spears’s “Coupure Électrique,” Kiana Ledé’s “Fairplay,” Bebe Rexha’s “Mine,” and Evvie McKinney’s “How Do You Feel.” They also appeared on Timbaland’s Lifetime show The Pop Game. All of which is to say that LIONCHLD are relatively new, don’t have the best CV, but are well-connected. “Lil’ Touch” is also their first K-pop song, and it’s a bleak reminder of how passionless SNSD’s music has become. On the bright side, it’s refreshing to hear each member being meaningfully utilized, but none of them are able to translate the lyrics into anything beyond hollow performance. The verses’ minimalism is tedious, the guitar skanks feel cold and unnaturally fast, and the song’s subtle development is unable to inject the song with even a modicum of energy. “Lil’ Touch” has set a handful of records: the best selling Kihno album, the highest number of YouTube views within 24 hours for any 2000s Korean girl group, and the highest number of YouTube views within 24 hours for any SM group ever. It’s all very impressive given the mediocre promotion for this, but K-pop is also bigger than ever. In other words, there are more people who are content with mediocrity.
[3]

Juan F. Carruyo: It starts with the chorus and it will repeat 4 times throughout the song, but only to establish a familiar element within the structure, since every single verse that follows is completely different from each other. This is devilish arranging skills with superb melodies to match. 
[8]

Alfred Soto: Unimpressed with the last couple singles, I heard little in “Lil’ Touch” that impressed me beyond the echo and slight skank in the last third. 
[5]

Crystal Leww: Listen, I think that Tiffany Young’s media tour has been much more interesting than the music that she produced, but if this is what the remaining bit of Girls’ Generation has been given to work with, I don’t necessarily blame her for jumping ship. “Lil’ Touch” is overstuffed without feeling maximal and feels like it’s just coasting off the good will of its former girl group.
[4]

Friday, September 21st, 2018

6LACK – Nonchalant

6lack! 6ack on the Juke6ox!


[Video][Website]
[5.78]
Crystal Leww: 6LACK has been around since 2014 and released his album in 2016, but got a big industry push, via what feels like mostly streaming platform playlists, in 2017. His career choices since then are like perfectly curated by ~the industry~ from collaborators (e.g., Khalid, Future) to tours (e.g., he opened for The Weeknd) to songwriters. For example, Stwo produced “Nonchalant” — the same Stwo who produced Drake’s “Weston Road Flows” and who is signed to 40’s publishing company. The music is like aggressively fine. If I imagined what ~the industry~ produced R&B music aimed at the market of trap R&B sounded like, it would sound exactly like “Nonchalant,” and indeed, most of the rest of East Atlanta Love Letter. None of this is bad, but it’s also devoid of any identifying features as well.
[4]

Julian Axelrod: 6LACK has quietly become one of the most infuriating beneficiaries of the post-Drake fuckboy boom, and “Nonchalant” is his bargain bin “Marvin’s Room”: a faux-introspective bloodletting that’s twice as petty as its predecessor with half the hooks. “Somehow I still find the time to care a little more about my rhymes,” he drawls, before rattling off fifteen clunkers to disprove his point. The only line that rings true comes mere seconds before: “I’m so fucking tired.” Same.
[3]

Juana Giaimo: I generally dislike rappers bragging about how they are the best in the scene. However, 6LACK uses this topic to change it; rather than being aggressive and loud, he is the opposite. The slow beat and the atmospheric sounds fit his calm and deep voice. He has the ability to not be monotonous; instead, he looks for subtle changes — as those lines where a second voice in higher register appears when he says “I knew that I would grow to be the boy/The boy then grew to be the man,” making the melody more delicate and nostalgic.
[7]

Jessica Doyle: “Nonchalant” isn’t quite right; which is part of the charm. “Somewhere between humble and hell no”: much better. I’m less impressed by 6LACK’s spending seemingly half the song talking about how hard he works: at some point that starts to look like a shortcut. But the combination of the ominous backing and his refusal to do more than hint at a loss of control is worth a few listens.
[5]

Ryo Miyauchi: The contemplative beat, the tumbling flow that resembles a stream of consciousness, the lyrical unpacking of a shady environment: “Nonchalant” has the makings of an alluring #based freestyle in more proper hands. While it gets downplayed by 6LACK’s self-indulgence of his elementary punchlines, his wordplay sometimes bears the feel of an on-the-spot association game that further takes cues from the work of Lil B.
[5]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: I’ll avoid the obvious reference to the title here because that’s what 6LACK’s looking for here — not just coolness but too-coolness, of tossing off free-associated rhymes carelessly. Yet the intricacy of his rhymes here belies that point — he’s revealed his hand as an eminently skilled technician, and a charming one at that, but one that is very much invested in his own song construction. But at this point, we have enough careless rappers on the charts, and “Nonchalant” is welcome even if it isn’t that.
[7]

Stephen Eisermann: 6LACK’s flow and wordplay is impressive as his lyrics fall from his lips in a stream of consciousness style, still managing to feel thematically relevant even as he jumps from reference to reference. The beat serves as nothing more than a canvas for 6LACK to fill up with different images and call-outs, but that really is what the track calls for as 6LACK nonchalantly continues along, unbothered by what others in his field are doing.
[7]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: 6LACK’s East Atlanta Love Letter is an album that benefits greatly from purposeful sequencing and a tightly curated cast of producers. These aspects are so crucial to the album that they successfully obfuscate how little 6LACK has to offer on his own front. If anything, his greatest asset has always been an occasional ability to work in lockstep with a producer’s intended goals, stretching the emotional landscape of the instrumentation out to widescreen. “Nonchalant” is one of the album’s better standalone tracks because it finds him justifying his presence, one beyond an exchangeable placeholder that accompanies the exquisite production. Stwo, a producer who once made a mixtape inspired by Drake’s Nothing Was The Same, provides a beat that invites nocturnal introspection. Assisting him is Melbourne-based Lucian Blomkamp, an artist who was surely responsible for the clattering percussion and subtle electronic accouterments here. 6LACK utilizes the song’s expansive yet lonely atmosphere to brag as if he’s in a similar position: “I give a piece of me to everybody I meet/Not because they want it, it’s because it’s prolly a need.” Much is gained from small shifts in his delivery — the disaffected cool of singing “add a little reverb, yeah“; the cooling off of “crack a beer when I’m feeling pissed“; the slight aggression to “squeezing until they crack a windpipe” — and it all rolls off his tongue to justify the song’s title.
[6]

Will Rivitz: What The Weeknd wishes he sounded like.
[8]

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Kris Kross Amsterdam & The Boy Next Door ft. Conor Maynard – Whenever

Remember Conor Maynard? Kind of!


[Video][Website]
[2.12]

Iain Mew: We want to put “Whenever Wherever” in our tropical blender but we can’t get The UK’s Answer To Justin Bieber (2012) to sing everyone’s favourite bit from the verses! They’ve identified a problem, I’ll give them that. If only they’d followed through to “we shouldn’t do this then” rather than the replacement. 
[2]

Juana Giaimo: This is NOT how you make a homage to Shakira. In a similar way to what Jonas Blue did with Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” “Whenever” is an EDM version that ruins a classic single that has a lot of personality — not only because of Shakira’s strong vocals but also because it was influenced by Andean music. I truly hope this doesn’t become a trend. 
[2]

Crystal Leww: For anyone who thinks that good pop stars just have good songwriters, this is good proof that whoever is doing vocals does actually matter, often adding their own mark on a track. Shakira’s original launched her English-language career. This is a true bummer to listen to and a white-washing and watering down of Shakira and Gloria Estefan.
[2]

Will Adams: Kris Kross Amsterdam continue their streak of plundering pop hits and stripping of their charm to create the aural equivalent of an oversweet, overpriced cocktail that keeps getting pool water splashed into it. Conor Maynard, meanwhile, remains as uncharismatic as when we last saw him six years ago. Mostly, I’m just mad because when I saw the title, I was prepared to write a blurb that referenced Shakira and asserted that this is so beneath her original, and they robbed that from me.
[1]

William John: This was designed, I suspect, either to be half-heard between grunts by the inhabitants of a weights room, or danced to woozily by a lobster-red tourist at a beach club in Mykonos. There’s nothing necessarily unworthy about either of those pursuits, but when placed next to the bona fide “Whenever, Wherever” — which embarrasses this with Shakira’s unparalleled bluster and memorable references to mountains — it scans as pointless and limp.
[2]

David Lee: Conor Maynard sounds like Bieber’s echo, anodyne and anonymous. That works really well for music box UK garage requiring little vocal heft, but not so well in the context of similarly beige, familiar sounds (you can almost see the producer going through a mental checklist — vaguely trop-house-chill-pop rework of beloved early aughts classic with disco-ish bridge TKTK). I could play this song 30 times and still not remember much about it other than “yea, it’s on trend.” Whatever.
[2]

Ramzi Awn: I had no idea I needed this in my life. Following in the footsteps of DJ Sammy’s greatest hits, “Whenever” instantly does a lot of things: make you feel like you’re shopping in the market for produce; make you want to strip it down on a grand piano in a cold, empty house in the middle of a thunderstorm while you cry Shakira’s tears; and transport you to the same windy beach you were at when you first heard DJ Sammy’s “Boys of Summer”. All in a few minutes’ work.  
[6]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: A strong reminder that Bieber somehow ended up providing some of the best tropical house songs that we’d have to endure. Also a strong reminder that interpolating a classic song — especially for an entire chorus — should only be done if it makes absolute sense to do so. Considering this sounds like the previous Kris Kross Amsterdam and Conor Maynard single, “Whenever” does little to convince me that it should exist. Few songs readily flaunt how they’re such a vapid cash grab. Fewer do so in such a graceless, passionless manner.
[0]

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Jason Derulo x David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj and Willy William – Goodbye

You can all show yourselves out.


[Video][Website]
[3.50]

Scott Mildenhall: And why not? It is a delight to have the king of off-kilter samples back on his confusing game. The original’s pomposity is pricked by the mere existence of “Goodbye,” but it unavoidably maintains its kernel of self-reverentiality, and it’s all the better for it. The juxtaposition of demands to be taken seriously and genres, language and people that are often dismissed makes it a paragon of pop subversion. That’s not to say that this is necessarily ironic, nor that anyone won’t just take it at face value, or with more respect than they would Bocelli or Brightman: more that it’s triumphantly oblivious to the alternatives. The only shame is that it’s not on a Been Around The World Don’t Speak The Language hotel room loneliness EP alongside reworkings of “World in Union” and “Barcelona.”
[7]

Alfred Soto: When Nicki’s in VIP mode, she’s a zero; turning humans into indistinguishable sound effects is Guetta’s talent for the ages. Willy Williams does a French impersonation of Pitbull (“Parlez-vous francais” indeed). As for Derulo — who?
[1]

Will Adams: Ah, there’s the David Guetta I remember, where staples are somehow considered acceptable to hold a song together. Nicki Minaj’s yearning chorus was probably meant for something like “Don’t Leave Me Alone,” but then “Mi Gente” happened and Guetta, as he is wont to do, wanted some of that action and, needing a hook, threw up his hands and said, “fuck it!”
[3]

Ryo Miyauchi: Derulo still clings on to novelty when he imports dance styles from the Caribbean as if it hasn’t been a common practice in the last few years of pop, and his overt attempts to make note of how ~international~ it feels is quite the loss for a song with a chorus that actually sings with sweet sincerity.
[4]

Edward Okulicz: It’s three years since Derulo’s last album. It doesn’t feel like it, does it? He’s always just so… there, and often pretty good at it! His and Guetta’s take on perhaps the second most significant song to come out of San Remo is busy, clattering, clumsy and incapable of holding or causing any kind of emotion. It just feels like a rapid sequence of basic thuds and loud people trying to get heard over them. Presumably Andrea Bocelli is rolling in whatever the equivalent of a grave is for a rich living person, but the original is like seven notes worth of really nice melody, and then a lot of boring stuff and this at least keeps that.
[3]

Crystal Leww: While I gotta give it up to Jason Derulo for working with actual Latinx artists when capitalizing on the reggaeton trend, this ain’t it! Everyone on this track has done better than this track, including poor Bocelli. Even particular permutations of these people have done better than this track (yes let it be known that I am a stan of Nicki Minaj’s classic rap “I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I” and one day history will vindicate me for my love of “Hey Mama.”) Lazy work from everyone involved that feels like it was rushed out the door to try to make something work and I’m sure a very expensive attempt at that.
[3]

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Hồ Ngọc Hà – Em Muốn Anh Đưa Em Về

Good morning! From Iain, a Vietnamese “top sad banger with filthy bass drop”…


[Video]
[6.00]

Iain Mew: It’s not just the “you and me” repetition that makes me think back to Medina, as the deep electronic throb soaks in the same feeling, even when it’s updated with dubstep vworps and beyond. The bigger difference is Hồ Ngọc Hà’s vocals, which are smeared across the surface of “Em Muốn Anh Đưa Em Về,” subservient to that mood.
[7]

Tim de Reuse: It’s got early-aughties electronica synth design, a late-aughties electrohouse midsection, and a boatload of raw, overdramatic sincerity. That’s interesting, I guess, but past the initial nostalgia trip there’s not a lot there to grab the attention.
[5]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The production is a collection of “dark” EDM-pop signifiers strung together without care for cohesion (including an inexplicable bro-step break that feels cut and pasted from another song). But Hồ Ngọc Hà’s vocal performance, breathy and triumphant, is good enough to excuse such uninspired work.
[6]

Joshua Copperman: The verse is refreshingly spacious, the pre-chorus is gorgeous (I love how the Auto-Tune artifacts sound on “baby!”), but 40 seconds in this 3:41 song are dedicated to an awkwardly fitting drop. It’s fine at first, though the dated chopped_vox samples are distracting, but as soon as the bass comes in, the song loses focus. The second drop in the final moments is much better placed, but no song with vocals and melody this delicate  — even this bouncy — should have a breakdown that sounds like it came from the post-“Bangarang” era.
[6]

Julian Axelrod: As the first chorus sizzled and squeaked and slowly escalated, I thought, “This is the drop they built the song around?” And then it hit: the kind of big, squelching bass thwack producers used to kill for, dripping with aggression and drained of all subtlety. But the effect is less “Cool drop!” and more “Oh, so there’s the other drop.”
[5]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The payoff isn’t quite as exhilarating as the end of “What Is Love?” but there’s quite a bit of ferocity to the horns and dubstep wobble. They’re self-assured and brash, revealing just how committed Hồ Ngọc Hà is to obtaining this love. “I want you to take me home” sounds sensual at first, but it can become a threat if need be.
[5]

Edward Okulicz: There’s a three-note melody that pops up in the verses that keeps making me think it’s going to explode into “Self Control” by Laura Branigan. While most songs should at least consider doing this, this settles into a kind of electronic pop that feels about 10 years old but is still welcome. Hồ Ngọc Hà navigates the cut-up vocal swatches with a felt, longing performance. “You and me,” she sings in English, but you don’t need the words to understand.
[8]

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Hardy Caprio ft. One Acen – Best Life

UK rapper, now not so “Unsigned“…


[Video]
[6.43]

Will Adams: Standard come-up posturing made charming by both Hardy Caprio’s and One Acen’s everyman affect. The latter’s hook in particular matches the melodic trap underneath, a production that’s at times twinkling, stuttering and smooth.
[6]

Stephen Eisermann: Songs that involve flexing your success don’t normally move me, but Hardy Caprio’s sincerity on the track and the rich, peppy beat that he raps and sings along to are so moving, it’s hard not to smile and bop along with him.
[7]

Ramzi Awn: Hardy Caprio and One Acen deliver a solid flow with a tight hook. Good synth work reminiscent of an earlier time accentuates the beat, and the boys aren’t at a loss for words. A surprising late summer jam. 
[8]

Alfred Soto: This Croydon rapper would be better off as a singer, for his plaintive timbre suits the usual rags-to-riches climb. Unlike Swae, Hardy Caprio isn’t anomic — yet. 
[5]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Goes down smoother than any other Hardy Caprio and One Acen collaboration thus far, allowing the chorus’s celebratory hook to feel well earned. “Best Life” succeeds because it sounds unequivocally familiar but totally effortless: a combination that makes the boasting feel even more biting. You can practically hear the haters complaining that anyone could’ve made a song like this.
[6]

Iain Mew: After a Cardi B album track of the same name, both the UK and USA have current minor hits about “living my best life” — it’s a phrase more than having its moment. I like this one more than “Smile” thanks to the bite Hardy Caprio and One Acen give it, with just the right sprinkling of the idea that living well is the best revenge.
[6]

Ian Mathers: Many songs that could include the line “fuck what you heard, I been out there living my best” would come across as protesting too much. The single strongest virtue here is that it just sounds accurate.
[7]

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

David Guetta ft. Anne-Marie – Don’t Leave Me Alone

But feel free to leave me “Barracuda.” Or $100,000,000. Your call really…


[Video]
[4.00]

Iain Mew: As the carousel of a handful of the biggest producers and the vocalists of the moment goes faster and faster, each new combo struggles to be novel. Perhaps that’s why this also sounds more like Marshmello than Marshmello does at the moment, or did with Anne-Marie. It’s maybe better than sounding like David Guetta.
[4]

Alfred Soto: A pity that Guetta saddles Anne-Marie with lame please-don’t-leave-me’s and Autotune tricks that T-Pain abandoned in the late Bush II era.
[3]

Alex Clifton: It’s not co-written by Ed Sheeran, so already Anne-Marie’s off to a good start. She slurs so much during the first verse that I had to look up the lyrics to understand what she said, but by the final chorus I’m close to believing her. One point deducted because my dumb ass thought “even when I’m cold” meant she was worried her partner would leave her anytime she wasn’t wearing enough clothing during the winter, and the video didn’t really disprove that.
[4]

Will Adams: I cannot get past this one line in the first verse: “…while you’re sitting on my chest.” Sitting??? Is this about a dog? If it is, this is a [9]. If it isn’t, then this is another example of an Anne-Marie song that’s been derailed by the details. David Guetta, meanwhile, is settling into is talkbox-EDM phase adequately, but there’s more emotion to be found in other yearning producer-singer team-ups.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: Ascribed to David Guetta, sung by Anne-Marie, sung like Julia Michaels, written and demoed by Noonie Bao and Sarah Aarons, co-produced by Linus Wilklund, processed like Zedd’s “Stay” (a Wilklund co-write), and surrounded with Marshmello’s chart goo, given words from Lifetime movie obsessives and EDM-pop masochists and more nuanced Pink songs. Much great cinema, TV, gaming, publishing, theater, and probably cave art is produced with this kind of assembly-line model — because that product isn’t this.
[4]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Anne-Marie and Guetta are more tolerable than I usually find them, but their union feels even more anonymous than most EDM-pop crossover attempts. Also, I can’t tell if the vibe is supposed to be “romantic bliss” or “codependency,” which is rarely a good sign.
[3]

Edward Okulicz: Makes co-dependence sound bouncy and almost inviting, which is an act of purest evil. Catchy evil.
[5]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: A plea to extend an unhealthy relationship that fortuitously benefits from its musical trip down memory lane. That dated instrumental break forces listeners to reflect on EDM of the past few years: a perfect complement to Anne-Marie’s own urgings to consider a future together through a reflection of the past.
[5]

Stephen Eisermann: I can imagine David Guetta’s pitch about this song: imagine every electronic pop song that’s gone to #5 at top 40 radio in the last year mashed together, but worse. And, hey, he’s not wrong.
[3]

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Trippie Redd – Taking a Walk

Not a Passion Pit cover nor reference…


[Video]
[4.50]

Will Rivitz: Please sign my Change.org petition to add a Trippie verse to every piece of elevator Muzak.
[7]

Anthony Easton: This seems more like the introduction to a song, not a particularly interesting song, but a song nonetheless. Now it’s just kind of flaccid wallpaper. 
[3]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Scott Storch and Avedon’s production is softly plaintive but comforting in its warmth: a fitting soundtrack for a leisurely-paced walk during autumn. Disappointing that Trippie Redd then undersells his attempts at emotional resonance through a diluted performance and scattered lyricism. The casual suicidal ideation, the hollow braggadocio, the vituperative language directed towards women — it all congeals into greyscale nonchalance. Apropos as a portrayal of numbing depression? Perhaps, but the result is more of confusion: is there any purpose to the song’s brevity? And why is Trippie Redd playing to none of his strengths?
[3]

Juana Giaimo: Suicide is a delicate matter in society, and hearing a song being so open about it is at least surprising. It can also cause empathy, especially in the way Trippie Redd makes the syllables longer as if he were falling apart, almost roaring at the end of the only verse of the track. But I can’t help notice the first lines of the verse, where blaming women for mental illness and a toxic lifestyle is once again a common theme. The suicide note not being read by his “bitch,” is put as a cause for him to say “rule number one: never trust no bitch.” It’s hard to have empathy for someone who victimizes himself by blaming a whole other gender. 
[5]

Alfred Soto: “Rule #1: trust no bitch,” I learn in the first verse. The love scars run as deeply as the shared values, aesthetic and moral, with the late XXXTentatcion. 
[4]

Will Adams: Everything here — the brief run time, Scott Storch’s laid-back and at times dreamy production, the wordplay that at first feels clever but weakens through repetition — really does evoke the feeling of taking a walk outside to clear your head. Slight as it may be, sometimes a quick breather is just what’s needed.
[5]