Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Karen Harding – Say Something

Oh, we did.


Crystal Leww: Karen Harding makes pop house music of the Duke Dumont, Disclosure, and Secondcity variety. However, Karen Harding is not the producer, she’s the singer. Pop house producers in the last year have been notoriously shitty about crediting their vocalists, letting the Kelli-Leighs and the Yolanda Quarteys become off-handed thanks in BBC recording sessions and on Twitter rather than formally credited. Here, Karen Harding is the main act, and my God, she stuns. The build is perfect, gasping, pleading, obsessing, and that release feels so immediate when that groove kicks in. It sounds like a clear grasp of confidence compared to the insecurity in the verses. I love the repetition of “ohhhh! come on tell me!” It’s as if it’s a stutter, as though she’s tripping over herself to demand explanations. In the last week, Kesha has reignited a discussion about the power dynamics between (often male) producers and (often female) singers. Karen Harding means something because ultimately “Say Something” has her name on it first, taking the power back from all these ain’t-shit men who won’t credit women, unintentional or not. If there’s any justice in the world, she’ll be rewarded with chart performance, too.

Thomas Inskeep: Kiesza and Jess Glynne have competition, though the chorus makes me think, “If you see something, say something,” which I doubt was its intended effect. 

Micha Cavaseno: “Say Something” doesn’t actually do anything too vastly different from the retro-house splash except run through every cliché in separate movements, rather than pile them one onto another. I wish she seemed more at home in the production rather than slotted on top of it, and yet I appreciate that someone knows how to switch up the beat to enough degrees that even though the song here isn’t great, moments in the production are defined. You know what the build is, you know when we’re about to approach the peak. It’s not a rush, it’s just taking you along.

Alfred Soto: I’ll dance to it, no question, but I won’t take it home.

Patrick St. Michel: If this throwback dance sound is going to stay strong into 2015, may more of the songs mining the style also get a hook this sweet. 

Brad Shoup: Those warped chords come from some fine minor-key disco track, but the rest is a Whitney comeback house remix. I can’t even imagine how poorly furnished the clubs that play this are.

Josh Winters: The dancefloor may act as the backdrop in “Say Something,” but it’s also the barrier between Harding and her subject. It feels appropriate that the beat really kicks in when she asks for a real response, like some sort of emotional put-up-or-shut-up that ends up manifesting in the murky synths. Her attempts to yell through the fog feel fruitless, but at least we can get lost somewhere in between the propulsive bass and her fiery Whitneyesque belts.

Scott Mildenhall: The chorus is a slowed-down “It’s Over Now” — a good starting point, providing you take it from Big Ang — and Karen Harding’s performance has, like so much else in 2014, a touch of Sweet Female Attitude. Altogether it is something of a compromise between the former and “Flowers”: heading irresistibly towards irreparability with a voice still looking for hope. Pained, but vibrantly so.

Anthony Easton: For someone who is exhorting me to say something, this song repeats the same tropes with diminishing returns. If you want me to say something, say something interesting at first.

Katherine St Asaph: Who mixed this, and are they awake yet?

Reader average: [7.66] (3 votes)

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