Friday, August 18th, 2017

Jessica Mauboy – Fallin’

Australian Idol runner up meets ubiquitous NYC hit (or not)…


[Video][Website]
[5.43]

Alfred Soto: She must have put this over on The Voice a couple months ago — the audible grit against those arpeggios makes for the kind of show stopper that audiences love. Freed of context, “Fallin'” sounds generic.
[4]

Will Adams: I-i-i keep on fallin’… in and out… of love… with a song that builds to a huge release and then pulls everything back for a tepid ballad instead.
[5]

Hazel Robinson: Tell you what, if you have a slightly twitchy acoustic intro like you’re about to drop one of those restrained, vocal harmony sloppy love songs from midway through an *NSync album then you’ve got me onboard. Get it a bit bassy later and oh, I know this is a box of tricks that are designed to fuck with me but they’re all so pleasant and god knows we need a bit of bizarrely blunt niceness right now.
[8]

Ryo Miyauchi: Is her rhyme breakdowns during the pre-chorus borrowed from The-Dream? Was she thinking “Wildest Dreams” for her descending sighs? Though the vocal play adds a necessary detail to highlight an otherwise  too-standard R&B ballad, I’m instead thinking what other songs these  tricks are sourced from.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Sometimes, a pleasantly pretty ballad is just a pleasantly pretty ballad.
[5]

Austin Brown: “I’ve been that girl who has to play it safe”–yeah, I can tell.
[5]

Nortey Dowuona: This feels both slight and low, as Jessica smoothly slides through the soft guitar and bouncy, yet slow 808 drums. Let down your windows and hair.
[6]

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Kendrick Lamar ft. Rihanna – LOYALTY.

It’s what keeps you all coming back every day, right?


[Video][Website]
[6.57]

Julian Axelrod: Kendrick ascended to rap royalty long ago, but my favorite moments come when he allows himself to be a normal person. In his quieter moments he can convey weariness, isolation and insecurity better than most rappers. So I like how “LOYALTY.” feels refreshingly low-key for such a high-profile collaboration, like Kendrick and Rihanna are just two preteens flirting over the phone. Each boast is adorned with a half-smirk, and even the ad-libs are affirmations of admiration. And though our players might have never met before recording this track, they evoke the comfort and ease of a decade-long relationship. Kendrick’s tests of loyalty come from a place of weakness. “I done been down so long, lost hope”: Now that you’ve seen me at my worst, will you still love me? But as Kendrick shows, that openness is its own kind of strength.
[8]

Ryo Miyauchi: This sounds like a much needed vacation for the two, who both flex their resumes under different monikers like they’re trying to take the edge off from their day jobs. That said, the too-casual nature behind this collaboration is only excused because of who they actually are to the public. Kung Fu Kenny and Bad Girl RiRi adds no matter to this big question of loyalty; it’s Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna who brings the actual weight to the rather loose song.
[6]

Nortey Dowuona: Kung Fu Kenny has been the one iteration of Kendrick so far I haven’t been able to fully get with, and this, feels like a tipping point towards something that doesn’t bode well for Kendrick down the road. But the raps are solid enough, and Rihanna is perfect on this. (Plus, the video is bananas. STREET SHARKS WAS A GOOD SHOW.)
[7]

Austin Brown: The song moves in with a chunky sluggishness that usually deters me, but I can’t deny that every time Rihanna does her “loyalty, loyalty, loyalty” vocal run, I jolt up. And after a few listens and a more attentive look at the lyrics, a song reveals itself with an easily missable sensitivity towards the slippery meaning of the word. With Kendrick Lamar having long since rocketed into the stratosphere of rap stardom and Rihanna suddenly pivoting towards auteurship, it’s a real question for the both of them. Tell me who you’re loyal to, indeed.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Kendrick Lamar is never duller than when he affects a cynicism about women that is the most perfunctory consequence of Telling It Like It Is. Rihanna contributes a scratch vocal.
[4]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: In which Kendrick’s signature “Halle Berry or Hallelujah” moralism gets flipped on its head. Where submission to pleasure in the now becomes an investment for a sustained relationship. As the “24K Magic” sample fills the empty space of “LOYALTY.” with cloudy smoke, Kendrick and Rihanna banter back and forth with effortless cool. They put on names (“Kung Fu Kenny,” “Bad Girl RiRi”), trade cheeky remarks (“I’m a savage, I’m a asshole, I’m a king”; “It’s so hard to be humble”), and interpolate songs of old (“It’s a secret society, all we ask is trust”; “Shimmy ya, shimmy ya, shimmy ya rock”). The (sub)text is serious though, and it channels lazy summer afternoons spent doing nothing in particular, where bonds between people are strengthened in an unspoken-but-understood manner. Rihanna sounds particularly comfortable as she avoids the pitfalls of familiar trap flows, something that plagued some of her previous songs.” Kendrick? Well, he’s got my loyalty.
[7]

Joshua Copperman: Clearly, if he’s gotta make a video, he’s gonna make it look sexy – each video that he’s put out has been increasingly cinematic, and this one tops them all. Sharks charging through the ground, Kendrick and Rihanna doing a trust fall on a skyscraper, and a car crash that ties directly to the DNA video. It makes the song itself sound bigger than it does on its own – flipping the shrill talkbox from 24K Magic is inspired, but the video makes it into something more dramatic. The song itself is the pop side of Kendrick without question, down to the similar structure of the verses, and, along with “Love”, K.Dot at his most accessible. Which is not a bad thing at all! DAMN. proved his ability to sonically compete with the rest of mainstream rap if he wanted to, but it’ll be interesting to see if he retreats into himself again or continues on this pop trajectory. Or he does an artfully directed action-comedy co-starring Vince Staples, which is the best-case scenario.
[7]

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Jessie Ware – Midnight

We again sample Jessie’s wares.


[Video]
[6.38]

Anjy Ou: I don’t know what it is about Jessie Ware that hits me right at the core of my being, but since I first listened to “Running” I felt exposed, like she was singing about the stuff I was scared to even hint to anyone else, let alone an object of affection. It’s scary to love somebody, to make space for them before they’ve even agreed to fill it. And even when they have, the uncertainty can linger; you can’t help but wonder, “Is it all going to fall away?” Even after the first confession, you need to continue to be brave about speaking your heart. Jessie Ware knows this, so instead of pulling back from the mic when hitting the big notes like she used to, she leans in, allowing you to hear — and feel — everything, instead of tempering it for fear of what the response might be. She’s still a bit uncomfortable with it: the verses start out soft and echo-ey, her voice almost suspended in electronic water. But then the chorus hits and she’s going for it, even as she tempers everything she says: maybe I love you, maybe I want to, maybe I need you. Instead frantically swimming to shore, she’s swimming through this new experience of love, allowing herself to be open and vulnerable. This song seems to tell us that yes, it’s scary, but there’s something wonderful and beautiful about the whole thing. I may not have had the experiences that she has – getting married, having a child — but she’s convinced me here that it might be worth taking the dive.
[9]

Katie Gill: Belting and faux-soul styles can only take you so far, especially if the song itself is mediocre to begin with. That chorus sounds like it was plastered on the song because… shit… we forgot to put a chorus on this thing. Overall, it’s incredibly disjointed and incredibly out of whack.
[4]

Alfred Soto: “Midnight” sounds terrific on first and second listen: Jessie Ware is one of the few vocalists whose upper register doesn’t exhaust my patience. But the chord and tempo change in the chorus — a gallop as unconvincing as a man in a pony outfit, with a stop at “Bennie and the Jets” — unfurls like a Pro Tools salvage job, a marooned sequence pilfered from someone else’s plate. It cheapens Ware’s shows of feeling into mere affect.
[4]

Nortey Dowuona: The bass plods, the drums limp, the synths whimper and tremble, and Jessie Ware’s powerful voice sits on this wicker foundation, almost immediately falling as it collapses.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: They can sing “Say You Love Me” on TV talent shows all they like, it’s sadly not going to make Jessie Ware a star any more than she already is. If that means she can swerve Ed Sheeran’s songwriting in favour of extended vamping, then all the better. With sounds all wonky around her vocal precision, yearning without inhibition, this is what “Night Light” and “110%” seemed to be leading to.
[7]

Anaïs Escobar Mathers: This starts out sounding almost like chamber pop and then that smooth beat drops in and I won’t lie, I was taken aback on first listen. This is a sexy song and Ware really basks in it, showing off her vocal range and sounding dare I say like Donna Summer at points. Which is an excellent thing in my book. As they say, it’s a hot one.
[9]

Hazel Robinson: Traditionally I only like Jessie Ware’s music when it’s had a beach house remix dropped onto its classy coffee table like a ton of ravemotion bricks. But there are first times for everything and even if I will like this massively more when Offaiah has rubbed up against it in an Ibiza toilet for fifteen minutes, this is pretty solid. Even if the surface has been polished so much the emotion slides off it completely.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: I could bathe in the opening chord progression and its nocturnal portent forever, or at least until the beat’s tossed in like a live appliance into a lake. Upon further thought, I wouldn’t mind that either.
[8]

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Skinny Hightower ft. Andrew Hawkley – Taboo

Anyone able to confirm that this incredible name is in fact his real name?


[Video][Website]
[5.29]

Maxwell Cavaseno: That coffee shop jazz-soul refuses to die  is fascinating. I’m not interested in Hightower or Hawkley, but I’ll fully admit to going extra hard for similarly produced ‘litework’ from the likes of George Duke or Wally Badarou because I know those folks are capable of doing more and at one point they were expected (and perhaps allowed) to do more. Here, it’s just a further reminder of how dire jazz listening is expected to be, and why it starts to feel like punishment for so many folks.
[4]

Alfred Soto: South Florida’s LUV 94 played stuff like “Taboo” in the early nineties alongside Paul Simon’s “She Moves On,” Basia’s “Cruising for Bruising,” lots of Al Jarreau, and “Lily Was Here.” The piano part and guitar solo are examples of expert musicianship. Rather long, though.
[5]

Nortey Dowuona: Ah.. this feels both soothing and grooving. Kinda feels like one of those Ramsey Lewis songs my dad used to play all the time. Skinny’s piano is trilling, the bass is bucking and sliding, Andrew Hawkley’s guitar is crooning and the drums grooving. Everybody seems to be playing in complete sync, without being pulled in any direction. complete groove.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: Skinny Hightower’s a jazz pianist (with an awesome name) who doesn’t consider himself a smooth jazz artist, but if you consider the company he keeps, you could most definitely call him one. Andrew Hawkley provides an able assist on guitar on this luscious, cool instrumental groove. 
[8]

Ian Mathers: This is, genuinely, one of the nicer elevators I’ve ever been in.
[4]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The countless hours I’ve spent listening to Japanese AOR, jazz fusion, and easy listening have only solidified what I want from music of this ilk. However, I’d argue that my preferences have been equally informed by all the hold music I had to endure at my previous job. The winding piano melodies and cadences in “Taboo” definitely bring to mind the latter, but I’d argue that they hamper the song regardless of any familiarity. Hightower’s piano functions to guide you through the entire song, and Hawkley’s guitar eventually comes in to take its place. The rest of the instrumentation? It more or less recedes to the background. This songwriting feels like handholding and, more importantly, removes any possibility of intriguing interplay. Jazz is often at its best when we see musical personalities interact. When that doesn’t happen — and it’s not limited to jazz-lite — I’m forced to focus on the musicality and the mood that’s evoked. Unfortunately, “Taboo” doesn’t do much for me either way.
[2]

Edward Okulicz: I don’t listen to a lot of jazz, but that’s not to say I don’t like it. It’s just that it doesn’t fit my patterns, as it’s not simple enough to listen to on the job, rousing enough for the gym, or fun enough to chase the blues away after a hard day at work. It, and this, is fine for sitting in a quiet bar, gin in hand. Within those parameters, it’s delicate and decidedly lovely. I’m reclaiming “dull” from being only an insult.
[6]

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Kamaiyah – Build You Up

Be inspired! Or eat pizza, your choice.


[Video][Website]
[4.62]

Anjy Ou: Kamaiyah has a go at an uplifting track over a throwback hip hop beat. It’s kind of endearing: Kamaiyah is not a singer, but that isn’t a bad thing in itself — she sounds like a big sister singing to me at home as we’re growing up in the 90s, encouraging me to love myself. I just wish she spent less time in the bland drawl of the chorus and more time letting her personality shine with her rapping.
[5]

Maxwell Cavaseno: There’s nothing good about good musical content when the music is reduced to absolute crumbs. All the highlights of Kamaiyah’s early material centered around that pleasure side of the brain in attempting to constantly relieve stress and take pride in surviving another day, but always felt like a Domino meets Da Brat style pop rap jam straight out of the early 90s that could be melodic and breezy and FUN despite Kamaiyah’s limitations as a singer or as a rapper. So why someone decided that the proper follow-up to prepare her for albums would be a distressingly flat, mostly sung record that’s unsubtle in trying to make Kamaiyah all about being a media role model first and a rapper maybe 7th is beyond me. Drew Banga, Trackademicks and 1-O.A.K are totally mining that 92-93 era of post-new jack pop rap in a way that while suiting Kamaiyah’s old aesthetic simply ends up missing the grit of those old tracks that made it the rough/smooth blend to ensure pleasantry. This isn’t a song, its a vehicle to make this girl aesthetically pleasing content and she deserved far far better.
[2]

Ryo Miyauchi: Personally, I prefer the message of self-love less instructive; the rapper herself sounded like an inspiration and example of self-pride in “I’m On” by just rapping about her successes since her broke days documented in “How Does It Feel?” I take this more of a tune for her credit roll after one productive year she has had. With already so much to show, she earned her place to tell her fans, “you can do it too.”
[6]

Nortey Dowuona: Funky fun and wise. And these words are enough.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Singing tepidly over a beat that early Keith Sweat would have used himself, Kamaiyah urges self-empowerment. The nostalgia is itself a security blanket, dulling the sentiment: self-empowerment encourages looking forward.
[5]

Adaora Ede: It feels pushy to try to pull off that emblematic new jack swing concept in rap or RnB or to be quite honest, any song in the modern pop canon. However “Build You Up” masterminds the ideal mix of syncopation and monotony. Even better than the verses, the overall milieu of the chorus is goth En Vogue. Kamaiyah’s occasional jagged flow reminds me of actually reminds me of another up-and-coming black female rapper — and their parables share parallels, in message and in style. It’s fresh in sound and swagger and I genuinely hope that more artists like Kamaiyah can rise above the many barriers in rap music today.
[7]

Jibril Yassin: Kamaiyah broke me down thanks to some incredibly awful singing delivered over a riotous sample that deserved so much more – and for a brief moment when she found the pocket and opted to instead deliver a blistering verse, totally had it. There’s plenty of songs defined by an ineffectual and just plain bad chorus and likely not many that could make its tweeness a calling card. This is not one of those exceptions.
[2]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Don’t be fooled: this is the least motivational Kamaiyah song. Her vocals are far too drab to grant this the energy it needs. And while she’s touted platitudes before, her lyrics have never been as impersonal as these.
[3]

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Brooke Eden – Act Like You Don’t

So we’ve stopped comparing her to Miranda


[Video]
[6.00]

Thomas Inskeep: A country song about an amicable breakup! I don’t know what that feels like, so I’ll take Eden’s words for it. This is solid country pop that does its job.
[6]

Alfred Soto: A triumph of nimble singing over anemic production, “Act Like You Don’t” adds another chapter to the book on drunk texting/dialing. The difference is Brooke Eden, who gives the chorus enough flint and steel to suggest she ain’t moving an inch.
[7]

Edward Okulicz: Only in a country song would patronising advice like this be even palatable. Eden sings and acts the heck out of this, but it could have been generated by algorithm, right down to the details about the subject’s cologne. The chorus labours the point — quitting after the titular line would have made it shorter, sharper and wiser.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: ‘Cause we all need somebody to “u up?” on. The prospect of a “Girl in a Country Song” answer track to “Break Up With Him” and “Drinkin’ Too Much” is intriguing. The execution lashes a pro forma country chorus to a verse melody that’s pro forma in a different, clashing way.
[5]

Ryo Miyauchi: Pained as she sounds especially on the chorus, Brooke Eden goes about the sticky “let’s just be friends” situation rather politely. Her hook lacks drama, but it’s actually a little impressive for her to back off touchy subjects for the sake of keeping peace, where others might try too hard to squeeze tragedy out of the same details.
[6]

Ashley John: For all the pain in this song, the beautiful moments are delivered in the shreds of hope Brooke Eden clings to. From “play a little game and pretend” to the potential in “and you still do” and even the use of “act” rather than another command feels like Eden is letting herself see possibility in her wounds. “Act Like You Don’t” is closing your eyes and hoping that not being able to see the enemy means they can’t see you either: it’s futile and inconclusive but sometimes it’s the only way to cope.
[6]

Ramzi Awn: Eden can carry a tune, and the tune ain’t bad. Pickup pop never sounded so serviceable. 
[7]

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

The Script – Rain

And acid!


[Video]
[3.12]

Katie Gill: Boy, The Script are really having a hard time adjusting their early 2010s soft rock sound to modern pop radio, aren’t they? I mean, they’re certainly trying! But wow, is this an awkward mix between two radically different sounds.
[4]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Last of the generic AOR piano boys The Script have discovered tropicalisima via Drakk and Magic! as a way of propping up an anthemic chorus hook, and you can hear a certain plea to not be thrown into the garbage chute. And boy, in their rush to hire the tech people, the A&Rs of the music industry must have lost contact with all the vocal coaches. Someone really okayed that nasal falsetto sounding like so much mucus slurp.
[2]

Joshua Copperman: This would make a decent OneRepublic song, but 1. Ryan Tedder’s tropical attempt was better and 2. because “Despacito” has been everywhere this summer, I can’t hear a reggaeton-inspired beat without expecting SUBE SUBE SUBE at the end of the chorus. The one distinction this song actually has is the wheezy, wobbly Auto-Tune glitch when he sings “pain, pain”, which is hilarious.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: One point awarded for the desperate hope that writer Camille Purcell intended this for Little Mix, whose voices might make this key sound less like pain. Only one point awarded because even they wouldn’t redeem the tropicalia and mandatory whoas.
[1]

Scott Mildenhall: Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, so The Script’s first good or even tolerable single in a near-decade makes them even more useless timekeepers. If they were told they’d gone 210 seconds without saying anything ridiculous here they’d presumably bristle, but a change has done them good. Camille Purcell’s presence on the credits may well have helped — “Rain” is taut, and sticks to a drizzling of pop’s most reliable lyrical cliches to be formulaic in the very best way.
[8]

Stephen Eisermann: I’ve been trying so hard to find the right word to describe what The Script does, and I’ve finally got it: musical gentrification. Much like what’s happening to Oakland and Tijuana demographically and culturally, The Script takes current musical trends (in this case, island beats) and whitewashes them. The strong, deliberate piano chords serve to remind us that, hey, piano-driven ballads are what The Script does best, and they will make sure you know that by forcing that signature sound into a current trend, regardless of whether it makes compositional sense. Throwing in a curse word doesn’t make you fit in, boys, and neither does Danny O’Donoghue’s pseudo-rapping delivery. Much like those new businesses and properties popping up, it all seems fake, forced, and unnatural. 
[1]

Alfred Soto: It feels like rain because the acoustic guitars are dripping milksop sentiments on my lap.
[1]

Mo Kim: The best detail is the pitter-patter of the hi-hats near the song’s climax, which muster a momentum that the rest of this wet dirge cannot.
[3]

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Future ft. Nicki Minaj – You Da Baddest

To this editor’s knowledge, the first we’ve covered both of them on the same track. And, well…


[Video]
[4.57]

Thomas Inskeep: “We know you da baddest, baby, fuck them hoes,” Future croons, in front of a bassline so rubbery I think it may actually be an elastic band. Detail and Go Grizzly, as producers, provide a marvelous track, and Future blends into it almost like another instrument. And Minaj bangs out her best-sounding contribution of ’17. When Nicki’s on, she’s on, and when Future’s at his peak, he’s pretty damn great.
[8]

Crystal Leww: I wrote the One Week One Band on Nicki Minaj, so I’ve been interested in all the different sides Nicki Minaj has. But the thing about rap Nicki and pop Nicki and pop-rap Nicki were that they all had personalities. Since her last album Nicki Minaj has been mostly lacking in that department, more than happy to cash in checks to do listless guest features. “You Da Baddest” makes it worse by burying Future in the mix so low he sounds like a murmuring mosquito. This is so ill-conceived for a song about bad bitches that I can’t even imagine someone as bland as one of those Hadids doing their walk-up music to this, much less someone who held the title of Greatest Rapper Alive just so recently.
[3]

Josh Love: Nicki is almost always a welcome addition as a featured artist, but her bright, kinetic personality is an awkward fit with Future’s hazy swagger (his recent pairing with Rihanna, “Selfish,” makes far more conceptual sense). The involved parties seem aware of this incongruity, and Nicki’s role is constrained accordingly — a far more generic performer could have reasonably approximated her contribution here.
[5]

Stephen Eisermann: This is the song equivalent of a guy and a girl playing the compliment game, where the girl comments on his personality, drive, and strength and the guy responds with a line about her “trampoline titties.” Unfortunately for both Future and Nicki, the song is just as awkward as the situation is. 
[3]

Ryo Miyauchi: Future singing a sweet little la-la-la in the intro got me missing the days when he genuinely glowed from all of the warm emotions he sang and rapped about. His short ad-lib in “You Da Baddest” hints that he still might have it in him to paint all over the canvas with one sticky melody he’d come up with on the spot. But instead, he lays low in the same, safe trap-rap lane he paved since DS2.
[5]

Ian Mathers: Look, I know faster does not necessarily equal better or smarter, but let’s be honest: it takes Nicki less than 30 seconds to make Future’s whole thing here feel really lazy in a less than appealing way (and I’m no less susceptible to the charms of “Mask Off” than anyone, don’t get me wrong). By the end he sounds like he can’t keep up with the production, and it’s not even that high BPM.
[5]

Alfred Soto: A title chosen because “You Da Averagest” doesn’t roll off the tongue.
[3]

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Aymee Nuviola – Rumba de la Buena

Checking in with the tropical (hold the house) charts…


[Video]
[6.88]

Nortey Dowuona: AT LAST. THE DRUMS ARE GROOVING AND SNAPPING. THE TRUMPETS ARE TRIUMPHANT AND PROUD. THE BASS IS SLINKY AND GROOVING… WAIT… IS THAT A GOOD TRAP BREAKDOWN?! THIS SONG IS THE GREATEST THING EVER.
[10]

Josh Langhoff: A conservatory trained singer, capable of negotiating Cuba’s vast musical terrain with the plainspoken virtuosity of her voice, goes four chord Zumba banger. Already I can feel the wobbly-legged breakdown in my thighs.
[7]

Juana Giaimo: Aymee Nuviola did a classic rumba song with positive spirit lyrics to forget the problems of everyday life and let your body and mind dance to the music. Unfortunately, it’s rather generic and lacks a distinctive element that could place it in its contemporary society.
[6]

Stephen Eisermann: Sometimes you just want to get lost on the dance floor, in Tijuana, at a random bar on Sexta, and forget that all of this horrible shit is going on in the United States. Thank you, Aymee, for giving me that escape with horns, bilingual lyrics, and a happiness in your delivery that washes away the hurt. Losing Celia in 2003 was horrible, but Aymee’s doing a great job of giving us a current option to remember a happier, more danceable time.
[8]

Ashley John: Relentless and fierce, “Rumba de la Buena”  holds a steady level of exuberant energy for its duration. The entire song sounds like you cut straight to the peak of it. Aymee Nuviola gives us gift of a song that sounds like it’s made by a person who actually enjoys dancing, a novelty!
[6]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Have to give credit for how seamless this sounds, especially since that trap breakdown is able to enter and exit so gracefully. But for how cohesive everything here is, there’s a sense that it all sounds undistinguished and muted as a result. Granted, the song’s lyrics touch on escapism and “Rumba de la Buena” is certainly able to provide the headspace for that. It’s just that it feels more like mindless, passive engagement than something truly captivating.
[5]

Leonel Manzanares: This feels somewhere in between Albita’s transcendental “Ta’ Bueno Ya” and Juan Luis Guerra’s perico ripiao escapades, but it’s really all about Aymee’s confident, magnetic performance, showing us not only that it took some serious charisma to play Celia, but that some of that charm is her own. What makes Rumba, indeed, Buena is its promise to make you feel liberated, and this track does deliver.
[7]

Alfred Soto: My local Latin radio stations play variants on “Rumba de la Buena” every hour, and often I change to R&B or country. Visiting a friend at a Chicago, Seattle, or Santo Domingo dance party will change my mind — will change my ass — right quick.
[6]

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Mick Jagger ft. Skepta – England Lost

So this did not go as hard as geometry, trigonometry even…


[Video]
[3.29]

Ian Mathers: It certainly did.
[2]

Alfred Soto: My grandmother won’t mix a martini or do a somersault. Innovation is an overrated virtue for aging artists, and critics should stop expecting it. If Mick Jagger’s fusion of blues raunch and English distance still excites you, then he should keep recording this music. Going back to 1985, Jagger has spent millions of pounds in search of contemporary context that persuade him he has a life outside the Stones. There’s no reason why Skepta’s state-of-the-nation reportage overlain over Jagger’s typically excellent harmonica couldn’t create a cool frisson with the guy who sang “Hang Fire.” It’s not that Jagger-the-plutocrat has no business commenting on post-Brexit England — he’s a smart guy, he reads the papers, he’s earned it — but the result still sounds complacent, a nice try.
[5]

Nortey Dowuona: I listened to the original and it was haphazard, clumsy and ultimately empty. The Skepta verse is pretty cool but not as direct as needed.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: It’s hard to top what friend of the Jukebox Stephen Thomas Erlewine said about this misguided mess: “It’s 2017 and Mick Jagger is still intent on making his solo career happen.” Mick’s first solo record in 16 years was self-written and -produced, so he’s the only one who can be blamed for it. Not even Skepta (who’s sunk to the level of the song) can save this steaming pile of “modern” production and “political” statements.
[1]

Stephen Eisermann: I quite like the music in this, but my God is this a terrible song. Any good will gained by the music (and, kind of, Skepta) is thrown out the window by Mick repeating the same line probably thirty times. The metaphor isn’t interesting, it isn’t intelligent, and it isn’t even really relevant to what happened. Maybe it’s that I expect more from Mick than a subpar entry into the political music genre, but I’m tired of giving a free pass for mediocrity to legacy artists simply because their older output is legendary. England lost, yeah, but so did Mick with this half-baked attempt at being edgy.
[2]

Scott Mildenhall: Clearly this is very subtle: Jagger is talking about England vs Iceland — in the Cod Wars of the 1960s and 1970s, that is, in which international geopolitics relating to the Cold War became a large contributory factor in the anyway-inevitable decline of a number of British fishing communities, something which became conflated with the effects of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and would have been a big factor somewhere at the front or back of many minds when the UK went to vote last June. No? Well it’s hard to imagine people looking to Mick Jagger for searing political meditation in 2017 anyway. Him deadpanning “I didn’t wanna come anyway”, like Jilted John fronting Black Grape, harder still.
[3]

Mark Sinker: He says “lost” and no doubt means something by it. Once — as well as being brazenly vain and ruthlessly shallow — Jagger was a clever and a wryly cruel and funny writer, quick to find a figure for the good and more often the bad in the change he saw round him. Change is once again come — perhaps back in the other direction –but all he reaches for here is a sporting metaphor, which comes with a mood but not much more. It hurts when when your team loses. It’s bad. Yes, but what’s bad? What’s gone lost? Why can’t he invoke what he misses? I don’t actually even think something has gone lost — there was never a gorgeous legendary England that everyone loved because it loved them back. It’s more like several things have returned, or anyway resurfaced, stepped up out of the subtext into the vicious day. Some of them are very frightening, and thus unfamiliar — if only to the comfortable and the incurious. The times feel open as they haven’t for decades, and open at least means that it isn’t necessarily now only bad outcomes hurtling at us. Open means the option of taking another direction: one that doesn’t just get us back stuck here? Fair to say this does catch the flavour of everything we should be glad to see go: the grinding, same-old-same-old, self-punishing mediocrity of it all, week after week after week after week — but his wiry, reedy whine is glue-drowned in the loping blues-murk of the sound, and Skepta, who isn’t even on top form, easily has the best of it. We lost because we played badly, dude: we didn’t train and we didn’t think. The weather is just the weather, you can’t blame the weather. 
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