Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Salt Cathedral ft. Big Freedia & Jarina DeMarco – Go and Get It

Whenever Big Freedia’s not on the track, all the other writers should be asking ‘Where’s Big Freedia?’”


[Video]
[5.86]

Will Adams: While this could really benefit from an extended mix that’s just eight minutes of Big Freedia vamping, this is otherwise above-average poolside fodder with the right amount of twee.
[7]

Ian Mathers: The backing is fine, and honestly DeMarco turns in a good lead performance… it just feels unfair, because as is always the case when you invite Big Freedia, it’s hard not to spend the rest of the track going “hmm, could use more Big Freedia”.
[6]

Alfred Soto: Big Freedia rules — we know this. Do the other billed stars?
[4]

Crystal Leww: You either quit a hero or continue long enough to hear yourself do Target ad music. 
[4]

David Moore: I dig the mismatch here, Big Freedia bursting through a backdrop of pretty pastels like it’s a Kool-Aid commercial, but she’s not even the scene-stealer here: Jarina DeMarco’s cameo, which feels like it’s about four seconds long, juts out right when you’re convinced that maybe the Big Freedia verse was spliced in from a customized answering machine message Salt Cathedral won in a contest or something, and the track balances out, just barely.
[7]

Nortey Dowuona: Slumping, thin bass slides along while Freeida’s proud, gleeful shout buoys the the slimmed down track as Jarina’s soft, pillowy voice consumes most of the mix.
[6]

Katherine St Asaph: Salt cathedral: n. what one turns into upon realizing this effervescent dance track with Big Freedia will not become a huge summer jam.
[7]

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Martin Garrix ft. Macklemore & Patrick Stump – Summer Days

Summer dreams, ripped at the seams…


[Video]
[3.00]

Will Adams: This feels less like a song and more an abstract, complex math proof where you have to explain how, in 2019, Martin Garrix + Macklemore + Patrick Stump = Justice.
[4]

David Moore: Such an airless, if airtight, Song of the Summer entrant that it locks itself into a high floor and a low ceiling, flattening Patrick Stump into wallpaper but mitigating the Macklemore.
[6]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The idea is that Stump can provide a decent house vocal while Macklemore injects the song with some light-hearted summer fun–the two can’t accomplish both on their own, clearly. But even together, their voices don’t really sell their intended functionality, and the track sounds like a karaoke version of “D.A.N.C.E.”
[3]

Taylor Alatorre: Patrick Stump’s blue-eyed soul ambitions worked better over surging pop punk because they stretched the limits of what that genre was thought capable of. When you instead have him play the awestruck loverman on a recombinant nu-disco beat airlifted out of 2007, his own vocal limits are revealed, painfully. Garrix’s joyless ransacking of French house’s greatest hits is triangulation at its crudest: “people still listen to Justice at pool parties, right?” Macklemore is once again the improbable bright spot simply for sounding more grateful to be here than anyone else, which doesn’t change the fact that “under one breath” doesn’t mean anything.
[2]

Alfred Soto: The bass slapping would’ve embarrassed Justice in 2007, and the Macklemore rap deserves fevered Donald Trump attack-tweets (“nothing underneath as we undress” — well, yeah, you think she’s wearing mink?). 
[0]

Katherine St Asaph: Certain parts of this track — that one guitar riff, for instance — just want so bad to be “Harder Better Faster Stronger.” Coincidentally, I also want this track to be harder, better, faster, and stronger. And the lyrics not to suggest every alt bro condensed into one offputting concentration of sweat and enforced spontaneity.
[3]

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Charli XCX ft. Lizzo – Blame It On Your Love

Blame it on your love, makes me… wanna shove?


[Video]
[6.18]

Leah Isobel: “Blame It On Your Love” has been floating around the internet in some form since 2016 — either its anemic leaked demo, the still-spectacular “Track 10,” or one of the many fan mashups of the two. What the final single release has over the other versions is polish and physicality. EASYFUN’s magic touch transforms the once-anemic drop into a bruiser, high and low frequencies pinging through the mix like coins in a blender, while the Diwali beat gives the track forward momentum. Charli’s vocal, meanwhile, isn’t abrasive like on “1999” or most of Pop 2; she approaches the track with a catch in her throat, words spilling out before she can stop them. You can sense traces of “Track 10″‘s vaporous, venomous self-loathing, but this version works because it’s sung by a girl who doesn’t hate herself. She accepts responsibility and the possibility of redemption; when the drop lengthens after the second chorus, threatening to overtake the track, Lizzo bursts in to talk her down, and the song lights up in response. The transmutation of pain and suffering into communal celebration is what makes pop pop. Here, finally, Charli learns alchemy.
[8]

Crystal Leww: “Blame It On Your Love” is doomed to be compared to “Track 10,” the much-beloved track at the end of the Pop 2 mixtape. “Blame It On Your Love” is the better song, with its bright, polished production and a guest verse by Critical It Girl Lizzo. But Charli doomed this song’s chances by debuting the songwriting on something so raw, intimate, and quiet. “Track 10” is always going to be what I hear when I feel this kind of heartbreak. 
[7]

Alfred Soto: The story of Charli XCX since 2014 is a strong hook-writing talent suppressed by her tendency to quash those hooks with guests and production gewgaws. “Blame It On Your Love” is no different — its title suggests the tragedy.
[4]

Tobi Tella: I thought Pop 2 was sometimes overwhelmingly weird, but this is much more accessible and still keeps Charli’s signature spirit. However, even when Pop 2 got too weird, it came from a place of artistic experimentation, and this just…doesn’t. It’s certainly fun and bouncy with a fine throwaway verse from Lizzo, but it’s a watered-down version of an already released song.
[6]

Abdullah Siddiqui: This does annoy me on premise. You can’t just take the avant out of an avant-pop masterpiece like Track 10. But we’re still left with a -pop masterpiece. Sue me, it’s Lizzo on a PC production, we’re lucky I didn’t implode.
[9]

Nortey Dowuona: Lumpy, sloping bass smacks against the thudding drums, then switches to swirling synths, warm bass loops, and a 2014 Flume breakdown out of nowhere. Charli XCX lies above, throwing darts down to Lizzo, who catches them, turns them to origami swans and sends them back up to Charli, who crushes them with her watery croon.
[5]

Will Adams: I never warmed to the abrasive soundscapes of “Track 10” or its parent album, but how is this a better alternative? Between turning the central line — devastated, broken, rendered numb through AutoTune — into a peppy shout-along, the incongruent Diwali riddim, horn blares from any EDM festival of yesteryear, and Lizzo tacked on for no other reason than clicks, every choice here seems designed to transform sincerity into cynicism.
[3]

Katherine St Asaph: You ever re-listen to True Romance lately and mourn what could have been?
[4]

Taylor Alatorre: I’m terrible at predicting future chart performance, but this sounds like it could be Charli’s first mainstream U.S. hit since “Boom Clap.” If not, it was certainly engineered for that purpose. I prefer Life Sim’s chirpy arpeggios to Stargate’s synthesized horn stabs, but the messy emotional center of “Track 10” is still there, which overrides any mere aesthetic preferences. Lizzo keeps her official presence to a minimum while still seeming to bend reality around her; the percussive beat sounds like it was made for her even if she does more background ad-libbing than rapping over it.
[7]

Vikram Joseph: “Track 10” felt like a tape unravelling, all of Pop 2‘s tumultuous energy combusting inwards in a magnificent entropic death-spiral. Makes sense that the wreckage would spawn a gleaming pop automaton; where “Track 10” lost itself in cosmic chaos, “Blame It On Your Love” is a rocket fired directly at the sun. The fact that it loses little of Charli XCX’s dangerous intensity in transition is a credit to both the production and the strength of the chorus; even the EDM spasms in the post-chorus feel gripping, and there’s no doubt it’ll start fires on dancefloors this summer. Lizzo’s cameo feels like a hype-gathering afterthought; it sounds copied and pasted in, and she hasn’t been given anything of interest to say, but it’s brief enough not to break the momentum too badly.
[7]

Ian Mathers: At this point, both acts have the kind of fans, and enough shared fans, who are going to have sky-high expectations for any sort of collaboration. And there are factors that could easily lead to disappointment: Lizzo’s very short guest verse, the fact that this is a re-shine of Charli’s much less poppy but still incredible “Track 10.” But you know what? “Track 10” didn’t get deleted when this came out, what Lizzo is here is solidly satisfying, and it’s still an incredible song. Whether it’s more or less incredible than its source — OK, have arguments about that, happy?
[8]

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Luke Combs – Beer Never Broke My Heart

We will wash the dishes, while you go have a beer…


[Video]
[3.14]

Alfred Soto: I wonder if Luke Combs’s ecumenicism extends to craft beers, and, if so, does he save the hangover experiences for songs about wimmen? Ecumenicism has its limits: that metal riff makes Brantley Gilbert sound like Big Thief.
[4]

Stephen Eisermann: With how little information we hear about the girl in the second verse, I’m not sure y’all were close enough for her to break your heart, Luke. This song would be so enjoyable if I couldn’t already imagine thousands of dudes singing it aggressively at girls who just aren’t interested; and in today’s world, that’s more scary than this song is fun.
[4]

Taylor Alatorre: Luke Combs thinks his singing voice is powerful enough to have us ignore that this brings nothing new to the table lyrically, and frankly it’s not a terrible bet. He’s confident enough in his natural twang to recite this “lorum ipsum dolor” of country songwriting without a hint of shame or irony, which is a talent all its own. The lack of ambition in the arrangement is palpable, though, and when the shredding guitar solo kicks in it’s like a bird that’s been momentarily let out of its cage.
[5]

Tim de Reuse: There’s this argument that country music is unfairly maligned by coastal elites because it’s marketed towards largely disenfranchised, poor communities in flyover states grappling with an opioid crisis and a general sense of decay. I think there’s a point to be made there, but this tune is trying its hardest to make me unsympathetic. Combs isn’t here to say “Circumstances are bad and alcohol is the only thing that makes me feel stable;” He’s here to say “Women and sports are really getting me down. I’d rather have a drink with my pals!” This song has a man cave and complains to its friends about the ol’ ball and chain. This song practices its southern drawl in the mirror to hide the fact that its parents were both middle managers from upstate New York. This song limps along on a pathetic, overcompressed runt of a snare drum, goose-stepping down a path well-trod by the million other better-produced country acts of the 21st century. This song voted for Ted Cruz.
[1]

Ian Mathers: I don’t believe this man has ever had a beer in his life.
[1]

Katherine St Asaph: I assume everyone else will deal with the trusty ol’ beer (has Luke Combs never gotten one that’s all foam?) so I’ll just go straight to the quibble: Terrible maps aside, jeans should be Duke blue, not Carolina blue.  
[3]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The best part of “Beer Never Broke My Heart” is that it is exactly the song you expected when you heard that there was a country song called “Beer Never Broke My Heart.”
[4]

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Kevin Abstract – Peach

We’re keen on this…


[Video]
[6.33]

Vikram Joseph: I think dazed, sun-bleached Kevin Abstract is my favourite iteration of Kevin Abstract. I really like the shambling beat and the heat-warped front-porch feel of the processed guitars here — it’s a hazily nostalgic Instagram filter that frames Abstract’s rap in sepia, softening mundanities into a melty, late-night-conversation profundity like summer heat on concrete. He’s turned these tricks before, and, honestly, it continues to work on me. “Peach” even wrings a decent hook out of Dominic Fike; the secondary “peaches and cream” hook is a sloppy mess, but it kind of works with the aesthetic.
[8]

Alfred Soto: A loping Southern-fried midtempo love-me-down seeped in polite Anderson Paak-isms with none of Kevin Abstract’s scabrous humor. I suppose that’s the idea.
[3]

Tim de Reuse: Muffled guitars whine across each other in a delicate, loose mesh underneath a tired monologue; you know, Dominic Fike never really clicked with me, but it turns out all he needed was proximity to Kevin Abstract! It’s prettier than anything he’s released before, but it retains a bit of the thump that characterizes much of Brockhampton’s output and separates it from a thousand other flaccid summer jams trying to get their hooks in before spring ends.
[7]

Ian Mathers: The loose, summery, just-fucking-around vibe is so strong here I think the temperature in my apartment went up five degrees by my third play in a row.
[8]

Nortey Dowuona: Dominic Fike’s sweet, aimless coo opens the sticky, sliding guitar and low, invisible bass grooves hidden with the sowed, growing drums. Kevin calmly lays out his soul for the man he loves as Joba dips in with sweet asides and Bearface continues to make his name as the only bear-related pop singer in existence with a honeyed, warmer croon.
[7]

Tobi Tella: A remarkably mellow outing from some of the boys of Brockhampton reminiscing on a queer romance — it all sounds like it’d be great, but the whole is significantly less than the sum of its parts. The production is almost too mellow, fading into the background, and the lyrics aren’t much more than generic nostalgia and longing. It feels like a song attempting to both stay in the niche they’ve built for themselves, and appeal to the masses and it ends up being the most “meh” of both worlds.
[5]

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Santi – Sparky

Checking in on the Lagos music scene (and we’ll be doing so again later this week)…


[Video]
[6.57]

Anjy Ou: With its languid production and short runtime, you’d expect this sort of song to be an interlude instead of a single leading up to an album release. It definitely sounds like it belongs on the “lo-fi beats to chill/study to” YouTube channel instead of Nigerian radio waves. But it’s a strong showing for Santi, who dropped his “debut album” (but fourth major release overall) Mandy & The Jungle on Friday. Santi lights up the song with his performance, at ease with the flow due to his background as a rapper. He weaves seemingly nonsense lyrics through the sparse yet warm production to give us the feel of a backyard hangout with your “mains,” where you’re exchanging banter, relaxed and carefree, even if only for two brief minutes. In today’s stressful world, and in Nigerian pop/afrobeats’ loud landscape, it’s a welcome retreat.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Tap-tapping synthesized minimalism by a Nigerian artist whose word associations match the track’s wobbly momentum.
[6]

Iain Mew: It’s very slight, though the vacuum wobble and hum of the synth suggests that retreating out of the world may be the point. What saves it from dreary chillout is the hint of emo rap in the  tone of the repeated “I’m a liar” and the way it prefigures the wider loosening and collapsing at the end. 
[6]

Ian Mathers: The album version of “Sparky” is impressive enough — somehow stripped back yet frantic, placid yet aggressive, intense but with a wink in its eye. This is a case where it’s worth checking out the video, though (directed and edited by Santi), both for the narrative there and the simple but effective interpolating a reflective part of his “Murvlana” at a crucial point. The transitions in and out of the segment aren’t even trying to be subtle but it adds something crucial. “Sparky” alone (which is what my score is for) is great; in that more “complete” form it’s even better. 
[8]

Nortey Dowuona: Waterlogged, misty synths wander aimlessly in a loop as a thin, bubbly drum beat holds them aloft as Santi, gently drifts over their head. Then, roller rink piano slides down as frothy bass pulls out sandy, raw drums as Santi dives in, absorbed. Then it’s back to the waterlogged synths and bubbly drums as he completes the loop. 
[6]

Will Adams: I enjoy that the wooziness is suggested not just by the thin synth chords but the harmony they’re playing as well. But the song’s too short to leave much of an impression beyond the audible clipping.
[5]

David Moore: Parties in music usually tend toward the bold and boisterous, lots of noise and shallow inclusion, which makes those parties sound like some of the more alienating social experiences I’ve had. But sometimes music can get at the tenuousness of a certain sort of party, the wispy little wires connecting you to everyone else. When I go to parties, I’m usually one bum interaction away from defeat and isolation, and sometimes when I’m at a party I need to bite my tongue three times just to make sure I don’t sever the rare fragile lifeline to another person. So I appreciate those songs that are more contemplative about partying — in the sound itself, I mean — without jettisoning the party itself, a contemplative party song rather than a contemplative song about parties. I’m thinking specifically about the way that The-Dream’s “I Luv Your Girl” neutralizes everyone else in the room with a suspended chord that never resolves. There’s a similar trick here, three chords circling around like two people in a tentative dance, enjoying this moment, stretching it out like taffy, surprised at its resilience but aware that it could break apart in an instant. And then the song does just that, breaks apart, right at the end when everything plops suddenly to the ground in a half-speed coda. The house lights come up and you realize that you were foolish to think it could last.   
[8]

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Blink-182 – Blame It On My Youth

Take a ride to my old neighborhood…


[Video]
[4.57]

Taylor Alatorre: “What’s My Age Again,” the song anchored by its immortal line “nobody likes you when you’re 23,” was written by Mark Hoppus in 1999. He was 27 at the time. Any halfway informed fan knows this, so what is the lyric “lost since 1999” meant to be doing in a song that’s centered on the formative years of youth? Yeah, extended adolescence is the band’s great subject (contra Christgau), but that’s not what this one is about; instead it doubles as a biographical sketch and a self-tribute to the band as they’ve existed in the public eye for the past two decades. On both counts it’s a failure. The frontline presence of Chicago boy Matt Skiba and ghostly absence of Delonge (both of whom actually were 23 in 1999) get in the way of any unified Blink narrative, which isn’t to say they shouldn’t try — their best songs are pastiches of experiences and/or blatant teensploitation, after all. But the decision to write this origin story as a specifically “punk rock” one renders any inauthenticities particularly noticeable. They present themselves as storm-tossed naïfs whose paths were determined by forces outside their control, but by 1999 the band was open about their pop ambitions and each member already had a side hustle going on. “Raised on a rerun” and an odd reference to “The Safety Dance” get closer to the the junk culture roots of Blink’s success, but “raised on the Ritalin” drags them down to mid-2000’s Green Day glurge. And if this all seems like needless lyrical nitpicking, it’s mainly because I can’t come up with the right words to describe how pathetically and sheepishly the guitars are mixed on the chorus. If they had just taken the “endless summer” bit at the end and repeated it over the course of three minutes, it would’ve been both truer to Blink’s SoCal lineage and worlds easier to listen to.
[2]

Ryo Miyauchi: Blink no longer feel at home with the very pop-punk format that generations of snot-nosed bands have ran with since they’ve “been lost since 1999,” and they’ll be the first to admit how they appear so stiff playing along to that style of their youth. Yet they don’t really do much with that awkwardness or potential secondhand embarrassment from trying on old clothes, and instead chug along in an audible shrug.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: I knew Blink-182 weren’t going to sound like snotty kids after — jesus christ, two decades. But I was hoping they’d sound less like karaoke night at a mid-career accountants’ retreat, at the point in the evening where everyone’s exhausted and would just go home except three songs are still queued up.
[2]

Tim de Reuse: 2009 me would have loved everything about this: the hyperactive breakbeats, the impeccable pop-punk harmonies, the background constantly twitching from one ostentatious effect to another. 2019 me doesn’t have so much of a sweet tooth, but I can still appreciate the goal: to annihilate all peace and quiet in favor of three minutes of unpretentious, primary-colored sensory stimulation. There are many worse reasons to write a song.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Ruminative tunefulness suits these pranksters more than I expected. Leavening the nostalgia is how the chorus sounds like “blame it on you,” a sentiment which, of course, is the essence of nostalgia. 
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: “Blame It On My Youth” deviates from its recycled “Rock Show” melody after a single line, which is wise, but it doesn’t have much of an idea of where to go instead: transforming into +44 in sound as well as in personnel offers little in the way of inspiration. “Blame It On My Youth” does have a title that suggests anxieties about ageing — or a refusal of the same — that the song doesn’t pursue. Instead, it falls back upon a crutch to which this band has often been susceptible: mistaking studio intrusion as growth. A stuttered chorus in particular drains the anthemic energy Hoppus and Barker — alongside alkaline Tom DeLonge substitute Matt Skiba — seem capable of stirring without even trying. But even though they still sound like they mean it, each lurching moment seems like a suddenly ungainly attempt to inhabit a younger man’s dexterity.
[4]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Recognizing an inability to become an adult is essentially the crux of Mark Hoppus, a guy who now rapidly faces becoming the third wheel in a band publically despite being such a heavy fixture in the songs that made them so massive. He is sadly not the burnout paranoiac whose shredded voice once resembled half of the current rock and rap charts, nor is he the dork muso drummer. He’s just a guy who writes songs and tries to be charming about the fact that he recognizes that nobody can really be an adult. Not even if you put on suits, get a house, start investing in a CD for your kid going to college. No, right around the corner is still that infuriating fear that you never grew up, you just aged and the guy’s nailed that for decades even outside of Blink. (If people can say Angels & Airwaves was good, I’m a +44 truther). Sadly the band around him is like many bands of their age, burying themselves in studio trickery they don’t quite understand, which in turn makes them sound like a Lesser Good Charlotte instead of themselves. But at the core, who still manages to nail what makes this band this band? Hoppus.
[5]

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Madonna & Swae Lee – Crave

In 1995, Madonna released “You’ll See,” and Swae Lee was born. Twenty-four years later…


[Video]
[4.56]

Katherine St Asaph: I’ll leave aside the fact that this is a song where one singer tells another singer nearly one-third their age about how their “cravings get dangerous” and how they “shouldn’t play with this,” except to note that it is a fact, and not a particularly comfortable one. The less pressing question: Why? Why is Madonna recording Starrah songs with Swae Lee? (I’d ask “why is she recording songs so heavily Auto-Tuned,” but I heard her do “Like a Prayer” at Eurovision, so I know why.) Does she think this will get airplay?
[4]

Edward Okulicz: Madonna isn’t too old to be a sex object. I mean, honestly, she looks like she’s in her 40s. More people would do her than would do me. But oh god, she sounds like she has no actual interest in sex and is just going through the motions. The points are because Swae Lee almost, almost, makes me think that he’s up for this encounter. That’s not the way you’d expect this to go, is it?
[3]

Alfred Soto: We know well how her cravings “get dangerous,” and maybe Swae does too — is that why he’s recessive, almost frightened for the first time? At any rate, the trap beat on “Crave” allows Madonna to bask in the empathetic powers of that still captivating husk; there’s a moment when she elides the sh in “I don’t think we should wait for this” for maximum effect. No other vocalist would get away with it. Whether “Crave” storms up the charts we’ll see.
[6]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The artificiality of every aspect of this, from Madonna’s chopped up and processed vocal performance to the ertatz “Dreamcatcher“-crossed with Ty Dolla $ign guitar&B beat, works to its favor. “Crave” is a song about the uncanny naturalism of desire, the discomfort of the distance between what you want and what you have. It’s not entirely successful in its pursuit of that vibe, but Swae Lee’s vocal performance, as longing as ever, tips it over into comprehensibility.
[6]

Katie Gill: When was the last really good Madonna song? She’s been consistently putting out music and yet the last song of hers that I can think of and think “yeah, that was a solid Madonna song” was back in the late 2000s. She’s had plenty of years to build up her brand; even her more recent work should still sound undeniably like herself. But this doesn’t. It sounds like Halsey or Daya, a song that somebody else passed over and Madonna snapped up at the last second. But bitch, she’s Madonna. Why is she not owning her sound?
[3]

David Moore: I’m finding it hard to figure out Madonna’s game plan with these — a bunch of generic duets in a grab-bag of trendy styles that sound simultaneously expensive and flimsy. Swae Lee is more game than I’d expect, but they both sound lost in a morass. 
[4]

Vikram Joseph: Madonna has rarely sounded quite so becalmed or so anonymous as she does here on this sultry, extremely modern pop track; perhaps the heavy autotuning and slick production is a conscious attempt to reflect the impersonality of moving to a new city on the far shores of the Atlantic. The overall effect is kind of reminiscent of Lykke Li’s hard shift towards glimmering sadgirl R&B on last year’s So Sad, So Sexy, especially when Swae Lee’s sleepy-eyed rap drifts in and out like a warm breeze — much like the song as a whole, it leaves a familiar, soft-focus impression that fades to emptiness in no time at all.
[6]

Andy Hutchins: It’s sincerely awesome that Madonna is still trying to make sex jams at 60, but a delivery that sounds like Gwen Stefani’s pout with two spoonfuls of marbles in her mouth appeals to no demographic I know of. And Swae suggesting his partner “ride me like a wave” after the jarring “ride me like a cruise” from “Sunflower” makes me think that his preferences are as painful as his metaphors — “Surfboard/Surfboard” was more specific, a decent double entendre, and part of an extended riff that made sense and was playful. “Drunk in Love,” instructively, made famous person drunk sex sound indulgent and spontaneous and fun; Madge and Swae sound tired, and their beat sounds cheaper than anything else I’ve ever heard from Mike Dean.
[3]

Ryo Miyauchi: The lonely acoustic-pop is an understated, almost muting sound to pair with someone with a star power like Madonna. Her voice being placed at a remove can likewise scan as an opportunity not taken to really mine from that uncontrollable desire she keeps alluding to in the chorus. But not acting upon impulses here feels like the stronger move, especially because Madonna has shown she can indulge if she feels inclined. She leaves lines with an ellipsis in the chorus, fishing for the other to take the bait. The lack of action is as frustrating as it is tantalizing.
[6]

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Rob Thomas – One Less Day (Dying Young)

Today on the Jukebox, Rob Thomas welcomes you to ’90s Monday…


[Video]
[4.00]

Katherine St Asaph: And he went sky diving, he went rocky mountain climbing, he went 2.7 seconds before ripping off fun.
[5]

Will Adams: Rob Thomas is back! And in the interim he’s apparently listened to fun. Like, a lot. And now my enthusiasm has waned.
[4]

Pedro João Santos: Who said the second half of Prism had no impact?
[3]

Tobi Tella: Glad that Rob is feeling like a celebration of life — unfortunate that he also felt the need to celebrate the most generic mom-pop sound out there.
[4]

Katie Gill: Generally speaking, songs about not burning out aren’t that sexy. Growing old can be sexy. Burning out can be sexy! But songs where someone happily sings about the fact that he’s not afraid to be middle aged with Auto-Tune that seems desperate to hide the inevitable cracks in the voice just aren’t sexy. The entire song feels so inoffensive and generic in a middle of the road way that I fully suspect it to be playing in the background of a trailer for a new, inspirational, Book Club or Poms-esque movie tailor-made for an audience of a certain age.
[3]

Taylor Alatorre: This song is so desperate to be described in every review as “life-affirming” that it sanitizes death to the point of becoming a mundane middle-class inconvenience, one that can be readily overcome by drinking whatever glasses of water per day and reading a Wikihow article about networking. Does some nice things with gated drums in the second half, though.
[4]

Alfred Soto: So many friends have “fallen away” — he had not thought death had undone so many. In response, Rob Thomas borrows a vocoder, Mumfordized arrangements leavened with latter-day Arcade Fire and a faint Irish melody, and mythologizes a career that has been a bizzer’s dream since 1996. 
[4]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Rob Thomas is a staple in my mother’s life. That realm of particular ’90s/early-’00s AOR like Matchbox 20, later Goo Goo Dolls and Train has been a fixture for her in the years of shepherding children and driving across the Tri-State for rapidly approaching 20 years. As a result, I don’t wanna say I like the guy, but I likewise have an ability to recognize him as more than just the “Smooth” meme. Sometimes I play with the idea that Matchbox 20 should be in the “Fake Replacements Canon of the ’90s” I have in my head (thus creating the bizarre mental image of Paul Westerberg jamming on Santana hits). Sometimes I just remember the atrocious music video for “Lonely No More” and wonder how people had no issues with this dude jacking Maroon 5’s (then not so readily mocked) bit. Sometimes like now, I get to hear new songs where he’s decided to emulate .fun and The Lumineers a few years late for an audience who probably are so politely resigned and aged out they could’ve even missed all that! Rob Thomas isn’t going to win my heart with his particular brand of well-crafted blandness, but there’s something fascinating about him being able to keep up — albeit a few too many years behind — when he doesn’t have to, and likewise has an audience who’d let him do so. Thinking about the things that now mean so little to me in retrospect after feeling Of Note for so long, and knowing they’ve slipped before someone who’s learned not to care from the circumstance of having to live so much longer is a better gift than any actual song I’ll get out of the guy who wrote “Real World,” a song even my 8-year-old brain could recognize as THE CORNIEST STUFF EVER. He hasn’t changed, but there’s reasons why that’s good.
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Saturday, May 18th, 2019

TSJ Eurovision 2019 Liveblog – The Grand Final

Thanks so much for joining our annual liveblog! Our archived chat can be found below the jump. We will be covering Duncan Laurence’s winning song “Arcade” next week on the Jukebox, so stay tuned.

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