It’s summer (almost)! The perfect time for some ab unleashing…
Abby Waysdorf: Summer! Within the first few notes I’m already on my bike, cruising along leisurely in the sun instead of fighting the wind and rain. As a whole song, it keeps up that mood, with candy synths and a well-placed guitar creating an atmosphere of warmth and lighthearted fun. The “I will never let you down” refrain confirms the positivity. Sure, it’s a bit of one of those Coke commercials where attractive young people frolic around in the sun, but there’s a reason there keeps being those. Who doesn’t want to hang out in the afternoon sun?
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Rita Ora is probably facing her biggest international buzz at this very moment for faux-sexually harassing a member of the High School Musical cast at an MTV awards show. It helps her case — as well as Roc Nation, who must be wanting some US-based results for Ora — because this gives the general public something to focus on other than her music. “I Will Never Let You Down” is perky, gleaming Eighties pop that lacks a spark of charisma to give it weight. Imagine “My Life Would Suck Without You” except, y’know, it sucks.
Alfred Soto: The treated guitar hook is the best thing Ora’s been involved with, compensating for her contribution to Iggy Azalea’s dreadful album. If it hadn’t insisted on including sawtooth synth hysteria in the chorus, it might’ve been a good recent song that transcended its women-are-muses content.
David Sheffieck: Some of the production touches are a little heavy-handed — I could do without hearing “Hey!” shouted in the background of a pop song ever again, thank you very much. The decision to center the verses around the bouncy, infectious bassline is a brilliant one, though, providing the sort of counterpoint that makes Ora’s voice sound considerably more interesting than she can manage on her own.
Will Adams: That Rita Ora’s persona has been wholly malleable up to this point does not detract from how lovely the chorus is. In just fifteen seconds, Calvin Harris bottles the same bright pop fizz that Betty Who nailed exactly one year ago, concocting a smooth mix of scalar guitars, bouncing breakbeat, and an ebullient “Hee!” hook. The verses may be indistinct (and Rita’s vocals may suffer from the same problem), but that chorus never lets me down.
Cédric Le Merrer: Starts off well enough by skirting the line between pleasant-slight spring tune and boring/bland unambitious filler. She probably won’t ever let you down because you’ll never expect too much of her, so when around the second verse you begin to tire of the little guitar loop that hooked you at first, it’s not like you’re really surprised or disappointed.
Scott Mildenhall: Rita Ora: the new Alexandra Burke. You and your new single in an advert? You must be A Major Public Concern. If only Alexandra still was, and was still being paid for her antiperspirant loyalty, this could have soundtracked it. It sounds just as good in its ad as “All Night Long” did because it has a vibrance that previous Ora singles have lacked. She has personality now too, and is completely convincing in her expression of the kind of straightforward sentiment Calvin Harris is brilliant at. With a title and melody as direct and affirmative as “I Will Never Let You Down” it’d be a crime to go wrong.
Megan Harrington: In terms of revolutionizing the Loudness Wars, Rita Ora has basically invented trenches; this is downright subtle by her standards.
Brad Shoup: Endless iterating melodic fragments are usually fine by me, but Rita’s mistaken distortion for weight. But she does sing “oh” just like it’s done on “Dilemma,” and it’s mirrored by those wonderful yelps in the chorus. This is a Natasha Bedingfield distillation: signals and marks, a rush I don’t love but will never brush away.
Edward Okulicz: The cruisy-meets-bosh of some of Calvin Harris’s most boring singles like “Summer” and “Feel So Close” is here revealed to have been just a female vocalist (and not even a distinctive one!) away from working. Truly, this is one for those who remain rooted to the bar except for that one minute when they abandon their drink and/or handbag and go off on the floor for just a minute before returning to their standing position. I’ve got plenty of use for something this comforting subject-wise, sound-wise, and use-wise.
Anthony Easton: The chorus break and the general speed of this might seem interesting at first, but it is almost arbitrary. For a song that sings about both being frozen and losing control, this slides in the middle without a lot of skill. I just don’t trust her in giving me any amount of fun.