Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Drake – Hotline Bling

It’s Drake Day! Wait, where are you going?


Nina Lea Oishi: Drizzy has made some noise lately for his two Meek Mill diss tracks (“Charged Up” and “Back to Back”) but “Hotline Bling” is actually better than both of them. It’s classic Drake — just listen to that muted, sadder-version-of-“Cha Cha” beat. Crawl into the corner of the leather couches at some exclusive club. Think about your past lovers and cry into your expensive champagne. Thank you, Drake, for being the mournful party boy we never knew we needed.

Alfred Soto: Drake’s the guy whom I expect to worry about cell phone calls. Just when the track’s churning minimalism passes into the okay zone it stops so he can deliver a jealous rant without imagination. And there’s a minute left.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: The impressive thing about Drake is that he never seems less than visible. He and October’s Very Own understand how the internet works and, crucially, how (and who) it remembers. Aesthetically, little comes close to the Drake experience online, where his meme ascendancy becomes as important as his music, particularly as it becomes more insular and distant by proxy. “Hotline Bling” feels like a burst of pure pop into a year of micro-managed world-building, harking back to the simpler times of “Find Your Love” in its lovelorn, simple songwriting. It also recalls that 2010 single in the sense that it’s missing something, the verses filler for a good hook, the whole thing two drafts away from being a worldbeater. But it feels like a worldbeater next to the mediocre drama of “Back to Back”, and that’s because Drake and OVO have strategically managed their audience’s expectations. Everything feels like a moment; in the off-chance something doesn’t connect, don’t worry, ‘cos there’s another moment being made round the corner! No matter how good the song, we’re talking about content creation toppling music.

Jonathan Bogart: Whenever a Drake song actually appeals to me, it’s in spite of his persona, not because of it. The carnival-swaddled beat, with its timbale underpinning and organ puffs, is the show here, and Drizzy succeeds primarily by talking about something other than himself, reveling in his and his writers’ knack for creating new slang out of whole cloth.

Iain Mew: It’s barely subtext that she’s moved on and he hasn’t, and “Hotline Bling” is at its best when painting a portrait of two people who have grown apart, wallowing in memories of what was. She may not be calling any more, but “I know when that hotline bling,” still present tense, combines with the woozy cha cha for a vivid flashback feel, the past relived through a sad haze and maybe a couple of drinks. So when the dance stops and Drake moves from feeling left out to calling for her to be a good girl and “just be yourself,” it’s a doubly sour note.

Josh Love: It’s hard to argue this former good girl’s life hasn’t improved markedly since Drizzy left the 6. “Running out of pages on your passport” is a thing no one has complained about in the history of ever; same goes for “glasses of champagne out on the dance floor.” Oh, and “hotline bling” is a catchphrase so strained I’m starting to think the reason Drake got diesel is just so he could carry it.

Micha Cavaseno: Something about the way Drakk phrases the hook here reminds me of his old former sparring partner Trey Songz, as well as the ambiguously accented warblings of PartyNextDoor over a Wii Music remake of Young Thug & Migos’ brilliant bossa-nova banger “YRN.” He conveys lothario longing, sounding like he’s drunk in an open shirt while lounging in a island manor, clutching an 80s cellphone and doing his drunken ex-boyfriend bit which is, much like that cell-phone, played out. You’d think maybe after going out of his way to redeem his image with the “TUFF” talk of If You’re Reading This… he would stay a bit solidified, but this whole record leaks out through the cracks of your fingers. Even when he does his “OMG GUYS, DRAKE’S PUTTING ON A FILTER AND GOING INTO FAKE DEEP MODE” bit, its something he’s been doing now for seven years and seems oddly inadequate at bringing to his next possible level.

Thomas Inskeep: Old-school Drake, wherein he expresses slightly creepy concern for a woman. (Is he reading her text messages?) But then again it’s built around a tremendous loop from Timmy Thomas’s classic “Why Can’t We Live Together,” so I’ll cut him some slack.

Madeleine Lee: It’s Drake’s “Complicated,” only more than becoming somebody else like everyone else, the ultimate crime here is… getting over Drake, as if I expected anything else. At least this gets as good of a chorus as “Complicated,” to the point where my first listen to this song was a YouTube video that stretched it into seven minutes and I didn’t even care, or notice.

Andy Hutchins: Fuck this song. This is Drake taking the brio and sunlight of “Cha Cha” — one of the best and most off-kilter songs of the year, and one created by independent artists with no capacity to make that song a hit — and gentrifying it into his umpteenth lamentation of women in Toronto maturing beyond their interest in his negging ass. “You used to call me on my cell phone / Late nights when you neeed myyy looove” might as well a message to the same woman whose voicemail he appropriated for “Marvin’s Room” — hey, another Drake song trading on an established musical context for some of its pathos — because lord knows no woman ever had Aubrey Graham starstruck, right? And this is essentially a slut-shaming ex’s anthem: So you “feel left out” about a former flame who “used to always be at home, be a good girl” “doing things I taught you, getting nasty for someone else”? Get the fuck over it, bruh, and unfollow her on Instagram. (Oh, and “hotlline bling” is Drake doing his typical neologism-as-appropriation act — he’s saying something no one had said before because no one has used the term “hotline” to refer to a cell phone since 2002 and no one else would be shameless enough to turn a patois “bling” into a verb. I hate that shit.)

Brad Shoup: Maybe if this weren’t the tenth go-round I could take this as necessary angst. I don’t really need to unpack his good-girl complex; I’ll just note that “you need my love” is the phrase with the most conviction. The Timmy Thomas sample chimes softly, a little light glimpsed from a turned-over phone.

Megan Harrington: Not as interesting or absurd or fun as its source material, but otherwise a strong testament to how anything, with the addition of Drake’s sonorous croon, can sound sad. Almost every time I reach my hand into the unknown I want to pull out something happy, but I know a time will come when I need to depress and there will be “Hotline Bling.”

Reader average: [5.66] (12 votes)

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5 Responses to “Drake – Hotline Bling”


  2. Wow.


  3. My home button links me directly to the YouTube page for “YRN” now.

  4. Even if I was wrong, I’m right in exposing everyone to a much better song.

  5. new video, new screencap. not the party line but i try to deliver when i remember