Friday, November 4th, 2016

Clean Bandit ft. Sean Paul & Anne-Marie – Rockabye

Everything’s gonna be alright…


Katie Gill: Sean Paul continues to be a blight on modern pop music, but at least this time he’s thoughtfully worked into the song unlike others that he’s just randomly jammed into. I wish I could give it more points because I love the idea of a club song about the struggles of single motherhood and Anne-Marie has a lovely voice… but it’s November. Tropical house and marimba were overplayed over a month ago, leaving the song feeling exceedingly dated.

Kat Stevens: Embarrassing and upsetting, like seeing Eamonn Holmes attempting to interview a vlogger.

Iain Mew: They clearly picked up from “Cheap Thrills” the potential of using Sean Paul for more than just an isolated guest verse. He’s a joy all over “Rockabye,” taking every opportunity to stick in a “daily struggle!” or similar to a song which would already be pretty packed full, given its concept of “What Would You Do?” remade as nursery rhyme diva trophouse. The mix of serious subject matter and enthusiastic awareness of its own ridiculousness is a difficult one to pull off without it falling apart at the seams, but the combination of him brazening through and this many hooks does the trick.

Claire Biddles: I’ve been rooting for Clean Bandit to embrace their weirdo possibilities for a long time. I always imagined the group’s unusual instrumentation would someday pair with eclectic voices rather than production-line guest singers to create something avant-garde; the group’s potential for strangeness one day manifesting in a surprisingly critic-friendly, artful song. With “Rockabye” they’ve definitely broken the generic dance-pop mould of their own making, but this is weird in a way I could never have hoped for or imagined. It comes as a surprise at first: Three of its main elements — tropical beats, semi-regular EDM guest vocalist, ‘feat. Sean Paul’ — signify fairly standard mid-2010s chart pop, but each one is skewed slightly to make it unusual. The tropical production suggests an all-inclusive holiday in 1993 soundtracked by “All That She Wants” rather than Kygo on a beach in Miami; Anne-Marie’s vocals have much more character than usual Clean Bandit guests; and Sean Paul’s appearance is notable for matching the unabashed corniness of the main billed artist, rather than eclipsing someone much cooler. Every time he pops up it’s a delight — from the initial dedication to “all the single moms out there going through frustration” (man, I have written 200 words about this song without mentioning that it’s an anthem for single motherhood, dammit!) to his yell of “DAILY STRUGGLE!” after Anne-Marie’s earnest detailing of the hardships our protagonist goes through to provide for her child. The whole thing is batshit crazy and I laugh every time at the audacity of it but it’s brilliant and I’m delighted. Clean Bandit has made a weird record while embracing their inherent cheesiness, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Peter Ryan: In which Sean Paul and Clean Bandit’s string contingent compete to see who can sound more comically superfluous.

William John: I’m curious to hear arguments for the necessity of Clean Bandit’s string section here; I’d suggest that there are none, given that the neat chirruping of the string quartet has the air of being grafted on either side of the song as an afterthought. The rest has my approval: the consecration of single mothers; a wonky stencil of the trumpet melody from “Hips Don’t Lie”; the presence of Sean Paul. But when you’re an unwelcome presence on your own song (as was another pre-eminent pop violinist recently), then the lead crediting begins to look like misguided narcissism.

Will Adams: Have you ever tried putting chocolate syrup on a caesar salad?

Scott Mildenhall: Being as pointed as it is, it would be best to hear actual single mothers’ view on this song. Without their experience, it sounds broadly sensitive, but it feels like the veil is pulled back on its artifice when Sean Paul pitches in with a line about school fees, not obviously in keeping with the world of a Crystal Waters-style “daily struggle”. It’s then that it really feels a bit glib. Certainly, his appearance seems a bit tacked-on, there for both dancehall points and Wacky Sean Paul ones, yet it’s nonetheless played so sincerely. “Rockabye” is rather ambivalence-inducing, but taking it at face value feels right, just about.

Reader average: [5.4] (5 votes)

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7 Responses to “Clean Bandit ft. Sean Paul & Anne-Marie – Rockabye”

  1. lmao @ mine and iain’s matching blurbs

  2. correct subhead

  3. Claire – ha yes and Scott went with “daily struggle” too.

    I think I thought the same thing about school fees and then forgot about it again (Possibly it has a slightly different implication outside of the UK? My understanding is that there are more lower fee schools in the US at least)

  4. Popjustice does this thing on Twitter where he comments on things Will Young does with a variation of the chorus of “Jealousy” (“and it feeeeeels so gimmicky”). This song makes me want to just comment on everything Sean Paul ever tweets with “Daily struggle!” and it would have the same effect in real life as it has on the song: it would get annoying very fast but remain my favourite thing.

  5. I did Google “jamaica school fees” after writing:

    Maybe it’s not clear-cut, but at the very least it feels like a bit of a clash. Then again, that might be just because I’m expecting the song to be geared towards Britain.

    I do enjoy “DAILY STRUGGLE!” though.

  6. I didn’t rate this but I would like to pass along a [0] rating from my sister

  7. shoutout to the subhead that song was a banger