This song apparently tried to be a lot of other people’s song, and failed at all of them.
Joshua Copperman: Sounds like Rachel Platten body-swapped with Andrew Taggart. Meaning that it’s catchy and well-produced, but the melody in the verses is monotonous and the whole thing has an undercurrent of meanness and internalized misogyny.
Alfred Soto: Had Hillary Clinton won, I’d still be lamenting an American society in which a woman has to insist she has a right to carouse without fear of judgment or getting hit on. Maggie Lindemann lets her cracked warmth illumine the recycling tropes from Ani DiFranco to Kacey Musgraves. If the result sounds uncertain, I’m still repping for Lindemann; her career may suggest she had to use conventional means to get started.
Thomas Inskeep: Apparently the world needed a glammed-up Avril Lavigne manqué? “Fuck your ribbons and your pearls/I’m not just a pretty girl,” Lindemann says, while simultaneously reminding us that she’s pretty (and flashing a bunch of middle fingers in the accompanying video), all to the tune of the most average (non-EDM) pop song you’ve heard recently. Don’t believe a word of it.
Will Adams: The self-declaration melody had me thinking of Meredith Brooks, while the reductive gender politics had me thinking of Meghan Trainor. And as with “All About That Bass,” I’m hesitant to crap on music made by and aimed at young women. But unlike the body positivity angle in that song, it’s hard to suss out the message of “Pretty Girl.” Swearing = empowerment? Pretty girls don’t go round-for-round with dudes? What did pearls ever do to you?
Scott Mildenhall: If it makes some people feel better about themselves then it would be churlish to write this song off entirely, but it is a remarkably unexceptional statement of character. If you’re going to set your stall on the hackneyed notion that transgression equals individuality, try and come up with something more radical than “drinking and smoking just as much as boys!”. Perhaps the rest isn’t quite so clearly reactionary, but it is tepid.