Also, I know you probably ain’t missed the Saints references in this business, but something actually good happened yesterday…
Michaelangelo Matos: Frantic synthy spazzy circa-’83 DOR/hi-NRG redux hybrid. Basic coordinates: Laura Branigan, “She Works Hard for the Money,” “Maniac,” and for lyric icing, Helen Reddy. Chorus cracked me up the first time, but it grew on me, though only a little.
Martin Skidmore: Very energetic electro-disco-rock can hardly fail to appeal to me, and this sounds like a hit immediately. Gabriella deserves plenty of credit too – she sounds forceful and determined, as the lyric requires, and her power is surprising given that she is 18. The strong-woman chorus will surely get some teenage girls’ fists punching the air. Excellent.
Edward Okulicz: Wow, Cilmi now has a second not terrible song to accompany the incredible and sadly slept-on “Don’t Wanna Go To Bed Now”. The verses are mere 80s pastiche, but the choruses are dangerously explosive. And she’s got the voice to pull it off too – the spoken word middle eight could have derailed it but she pulls it off with just the right mix of steel and fun.
Kat Stevens: I found that Goldfrapp’s rocket fuel was somewhat lacking the energy to break free of the stratosphere. Thankfully Gabriella has stepped into the breach, donning the bacofoil and leaving her stuffy languid attic for the outer reaches of the solar system! Magical middle eights and plagarised basslines pour liquid oxygen onto er, nitrogen tetroxide, and the resulting reaction is akin to that Friday feeling! Except I don’t like Crunchies.
Iain Mew: I really liked “Sweet About Me”! As far as post-Winehouse goes it was about as winning as things got. This on the other hand has nothing going for it bar the energy of revelling in cheapness, half-arsedness and (most importantly) the ability to get away with it. Said energy does turn out to be remarkably powerful, but still.
Doug Robertson: Gabriella’s always had about a much to do with the cutting edge as a space hopper, but this is an unashamedly retro, electro-disco rampage that, while sounding like it should be soundtracking the chase scene in a family friendly 80s sci-fi movie, comes across as a stupidly fun track. Probably precisely because it does sound like it should be soundtracking the chase scene in a family friendly 80s sci-fi movie.
Alfred Soto: I’m jailbait for peppy Shania Twain attitude, Laura Branigan vocals, and an opening hook that evokes Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out,” but the production is so toneless that she sounds stranded on a dirt road.
Chuck Eddy: Once upon a time — like, 20 years ago maybe? — I would have been yelling out “metal-disco, yay!,” and rushing to list this song in a book appendix. But somewhere along the way, the hybrid stopped being so exciting. One of these days, I’ll pinpoint when exactly the change happened.
Anthony Easton: Is the mission to produce disco bangers that make me want to do nothing but dance–because you have succeeded.
Martin Kavka: With this release The Invisible Men, comprising two former members of Orson (!!) and a former member of the Xenomania production stable, position themselves as the Xenomania of this decade. But much credit for the success of the track is due to Cilmi herself. Compare this to Sugababes’ “No Can Do” (which this team also wrote and co-produced), and you’ll see what can happen when producers work with a singer who is not only extremely skilled, but also audibly demonstrating her commitment to her material.
Alex Macpherson: On which Cilmi breaks the record she set on “Sweet About Me” for “least convincing declaration of attitude in any pop song, ever”. She’s deliberately switched up her style, but the problem is neither the polite sub-Winehouse arrangements of her debut, nor even the low-rent cheapo disco of “On A Mission”, all ragged tassels and pound-shop sequins. It’s that Cilmi is so poor a performer that she can’t even pull off a bratty, obvious middle eight that you’d think was impossible to fuck up. Even a comatose Miley Cyrus would have managed to inject that section with more fun and energy than Cilmi can muster.
John Seroff: A theme song in search of a show, ‘On a Mission’ is charmingly awful, wackadoo velveeta-flavor nostalgia, enriched with high BPM, chicken-headed gurl power and Joe Jackson/Donna Summer/Kids Incorporated fetishism. It’s a little too frantic and out-of-control to love (how exactly is one expected to dance to this?), but as long as the pixie-stix hold up, I’m down to flail.
Tal Rosenberg: I like the way this song starts, which reminds me of Javiera Mena’s incredible “Al Siguiente Nivel,” in its attempt to use ’80s synth-pop as an attempt to galvanize its audience. But the moment the guitar and the chorus enter the picture, the music completely loses whatever it had in the beginning, and then it just becomes a trite attempt at “Independent Woman,” but with Kelly Clarkson as a touchstone. The problem is that Cilmi doesn’t have Clarkson’s voice. (Maybe they should meet?)
Ian Mathers: At first, when this is just the “Steppin’ Out” bassline compressed down to a rapid digital burble, it’s actually kind of interesting. If only it didn’t have the most boring possible beat. And the most boring possible lyrics. And the most boring possible singer. Only the laughably bad middle eight saves it from mediocrity.