Cruising to victory without fuss.
Crystal Leww: The brand management with Katy B has always been awful throughout the entirety of her career, but it’s been particularly perplexing with Honey. Following the massive collaboration with KDA and Tinie Tempah, they went with the big brand name recognition approach and went with the Major Lazer and Craig David collaboration for the single. That could have been great, but the track was a goopy mess, and the album cycle suffered for it. She’s settled back into her underground, underdog house status here with a Chris Lorenzo collaboration. Lorenzo’s got a lot of underground credibility; he was a big house & bass ghostwriter for ten years before finally breaking out of his anonymous role a couple of years back. “I Wanna Be” is so much well-suited for Katy B. UK pop-house has been big for a couple of years, but Lorenzo’s style which is more bass-heavy is still not quite huge even though it’s probably not so hip for the underground anymore. It’s more than a fitting backdrop for Katy B, who gets to do what she does best, which is emote over a dance-forward pop production. There’s a straight line between the underrated “Broken Record” and “I Wanna Be.” For all the mainstream stories about guys stuck in the friendzone, I’m thrilled that Katy B has given a voice for the ladies who’ve felt it, too. This is gorgeous, hurt, pulsing, beautiful dance music made for corner of the room dancing and crying.
Maxwell Cavaseno: All of these dalliances like her collaborations with Ronson and Diplo have distracted us long enough: this is the realm where Katy shines. Few singers know how to craft their songs to a dance track. Chris Lorenzo’s house is rather tame, but Katy’s all stress and anxiety in her desire, edging off the softened corners. Granted, that weird pitch-shifted ‘wanna be’ sounds like the cry of some rare bird that can’t fly, but this track soars with an enviable grace.
Danilo Bortoli: Here is a quick comparison: If On A Mission is Katy B’s Rinse 02, then Honey is her very own Wired for Sound. And that says a lot, pretty much because “I Wanna Be” indicates Katy is getting back to the club and gently moving away from those once irritating ballads. For this, she enlists Chris Lorenzo, one of the most exciting producers to come around recently. Here, his approach is additive: he tries to improve what was already perfect. Which means that “I Wanna Be” is still club music about clubs — along with the realization that they sometimes can be sad, grim places. And that their music must be as nocturnal as it is supposed to be haunting. She means it literally this time around: “Don’t leave me here in the dark,” she warns. That phrase is supposed to sound like a commandment, but it comes off as a plea.
Leonel Manzanares: I loved how long it took — a full verse-chorus cycle — for Lorenzo’s signature jackin’ beat to fully appear; it showed some welcome restraint and let Katy’s moody tone and natural magnetism lead those synths. Too bad that beat didn’t really take off, leaving this 2 a.m.-appropriate house-pop ditty underwhelming. A club-banger without much of a bang.
Cassy Gress: I could just float away on all the “I wanna be”s. She says, “Don’t leave me here in the dark” and it sounds like that’s where she is.
Will Adams: “Anxiety’s a bitch,” sighs Katy, and the production agrees: An unstable chord progression, octave-leaping hook, sad piano twinkles, and pause given to a line as crushing as “You don’t know how good it is to dream of you.” The Honey singles had failed to grab me; “I Wanna Be” slaps me out of my haze. It’s the most immediate and urgent Katy B has been in a long while.
Alfred Soto: With an anonymous singer “I Wanna Be” would be a minor triumph; with Katy B it’s a new classic, the apotheosis of the Brit house revival. Her technical limitations dovetail with Chris Lorenzo’s willingness to manipulate her vocal: the title hook has echoes of Luther Vandross, Stevie B, and Spice Girls, and it’s not bunk.