Now this is controversy!
Juana Giaimo: When I go back home on the bus from classses, the whole city is coming back with me. The bus is full of people and I’m standing up there wishing to arrive home as soon as possible. “Alone” reminds of that moment in the bus: the noisy drop and upbeat spirit contrast with the lyrics and the distant pitched-up vocals — which always transmit to me a melancholic feeling. They seem just like the lights of the city and all the cars with my own mind. There is hope — the idea that there is a “you” waiting — and a subtle desperation in the knowledge that those are just dreams.
Crystal Leww: An assortment of memories about Marshmello from this summer: 1) One of the times that I was back home in Dallas, I remember telling my nineteen year-old brother that I was really into “Alone” by Marshmello, and he laughed at me and asked me if I was in middle school. 2) Throughout the summer, I watched as my Twitter timeline descended into utter chaos as music fan after music fan realized that they were “kinda into” the tunes of a man who dresses up as a human marshmallow. 3) I worked for a couple of months back and forth between Chicago and New York, and on Thursday nights, I would always be cutting it a little too close for my flight back home. One of those evenings, I had just frantically flagged down a cab, and the miserable, exhausting, inexplicably long work week caught up to me. I put “Alone” on repeat and when the cab finally hit the bridge and the traffic cleared just enough for us to be going fast enough for me to feel the breeze from the window on my face, I dozed off with this still pinging in my ears. Marshmello is kind of weird and lame to like, but this feels inexplicably beautiful.
Alfred Soto: The synthesized string passage aside, “Alone” distills the essence of frathouse electronic music: replete with gimmicks, unsurprising, and grooveless.
Iain Mew: It turns out it’s possible to do an even less nuanced take on Anamanaguchi! They must be kicking themselves not to have come up with the outfit gimmick.
William John: The masked DJ is one of dance music’s most absurdly pompous tropes, and there are none sillier than Marshmello, who dresses like he’s ready for s’more and makes music like a restrained, Kidz Bop version of Rustie. The tawdry trap drop works in theory, but unfortunately the song’s topline melodies seem to have been devised by a child learning to play the recorder, and the incessant hiccuping synth does little to evoke the pathos of loneliness on the dancefloor.
Will Rivitz: If you told me to distill Monstercat’s massive, frenetic, and wildly inconsistent discography down to five minutes worth of music, something along the lines of this song would likely be the result. Discounting the brostep that catapulted the label into the upper echelons of YouTube music stardom a few years ago, “Alone” has it all: geeky hard-dance intro, pop-house chords and supersaw lead, sugar-rushing vocal chops and pitched-up hook, and the tried-and-true “future bass” drop. It’s a maelstrom of disparate pieces, none of which work together in the slightest, but everything locks into place when the song drops into a nasty patch of distortion at its peak. I realize none of the above sounds particularly positive, but the thing about Monstercat is that, regardless of how cheesy or schlocky any of their music can get, the undeniable energy their best material – “Alone” included – exudes more than makes up for any awkward trance or childish Baby’s-First-Dubstep that comes with the territory. I can almost taste the Minecraft Let’s Play that inevitably starts when this song ends, but let the kiddies have their fun.
Katherine St Asaph: It’s arrived at last: the moment I become one of The Olds. It was nice being liked by you.
Joshua Copperman: The structure of this, at least the full 4 1/2 minute version, is very strange – there’s an opening instrumental melody, then a ‘drop’, (whose vocal snippets inexplicably remind me of “The Leanover”), a high-cut filtered emo verse, then a pre-chorus break, then there’s another break, then another filtered emo verse, then a new slightly different drop, then back to the other drop, then oh no I’ve gone cross eyed. What makes it even stranger is how random each melody is, with the exception of the verse – this seems better enjoyed as individual parts than as an entire song, playing like a medley of ringtones. They are pleasant ringtones, though, and even though DeadMar5h doesn’t do anything new, the haphazard design makes “Alone” oddly riveting.
Brad Shoup: It sounds like a boshy pop-punk remix, with the bawling part about roots excised and set against poncey synthrise. If this were 25% faster it might be an all-timer.
Will Adams: Marshmello has essentially made a megamix of all the highly disposable, sugary Euro trance that was everywhere a decade ago, so I really can’t be upset, no matter how stitched together it sounds.
Thomas Inskeep: Not only is his schtick stolen from Deadmau5, so is his lame-ass would-be festival-filler (literally) faceless EDM.
Edward Okulicz: Fuck yes. For all the times when I was in my early 20s and I could have gone raving and didn’t, and for my failure to realise the profundity of Alice Deejay when they were having hits, I have no choice but to completely fall for this. If it had featured a faceless house diva or a faceless Europop hook singer on it, it’d be half as good but get half as much shit. But the yelping sounds (are they snatches of voices or something else? I don’t even care) do everything those would have done and more. The beginning reminds me of “Emerge” by Fischerspooner, which is still a fucking great record. Rather than just banging one big dumb stupid synth hook into the ground, this has like four, all excellent. This is immense and it has total control over my very ass right now.