Monday, September 18th, 2017

Bonzai – I Feel Alright

Irish R&B, anyone?


Julian Axelrod: Bonzai is not alright. She makes that clear from the jump. She’s having trouble communicating with her partner, she feels disconnected from her surroundings, and she wishes she could have another life completely. But she has her words, and she knows her words have power. So she speaks her happiness into existence, which sounds like the kind of obnoxious bullshit rich people say about their already amazing lives but somehow it’s not. This is a skill I only learned in the last few years. I became way happier when I realized I don’t have to ignore the quiet voice in my head assuring me I’m not completely fucking up my life all the time. In fact, I can encourage it! And amplify it! And affirm my own happiness! So goddamn, it feels good to hear an army of robot Bonzais shouting “I feel I feel I feel ALRIGHT” over and over until they float into the clouds and explode. The fact that it’s a catchy, confident pop song is icing on the cake. It’s just nice to have those words bouncing around my brain for once.

Ashley John: “I Feel Alright” sounds like the soundtrack to a ’90s teen movie, where the lead just finished her makeover and is walking confidently through the halls while heads turn in slow motion. It’s a smile with the knowledge that the hard work to be happy might not be evident to anyone else, but it’d be too convoluted to explain any way. Bonzai nails the hesitant, talk-yourself-into-it optimism that Jack Antonoff wanted to achieve with “I Wanna Get Better,” but without the clutter. 

Katie Gill: This is an odd mix. The 2000s melody and verses never manage to gel with the odd, chopped up pop drop right after the chorus. Still, each part is executed amazingly well. Pair them with Bonzai’s light, breezy vocals and you’ve got a final product that doesn’t really mesh, but remains wonderful due to the strength of the individual parts.

Ramzi Awn: Bonzai makes turning this simplistic tune into a success sound easy, and she commits to the beat sincerely. In somebody else’s hands, “I Feel Alright” would not have fared so well. 

Maxwell Cavaseno: India.Arie meets Nelly Furtado over a dividing line of the most corny sample pitching being paraded as a hook. If it’d actually taken a defiant step in the face of deciding to either be exhaustingly middle of the road or actually trying to sound weird, maybe it’d have something.

Nortey Dowuona: Wilting, twitching, and soaring synths; sharp claps; popping bass; and bouncing drums are risen by Bonzai’s full, energetic voice, which switches from a soft whisper to a powerful yelp to a winding falsetto without her losing herself.

Anjy Ou: Okay, so maybe this song is just about getting high — on love, on drugs, pick your poison. But what if it was about the trouble of existing? Bonzai tells us that she’s looking for another life, but she doesn’t ever make it feel safe — just temporarily appealing. There’s a creepy undercurrent to the pounding beat and the catchy lyrics, just as there’s danger involved in breaking ties with your current reality. I’m not talking about escapism here, because there you still have an anchor: the break will never be complete, you just pretend that it is. The type of escape I mean involves breaking yourself apart — maybe separating spirit from body, or being different people in different places while you try to find a place where you’re safe. And what if that gets too much, too exhausting? What if nowhere is truly safe? Maybe instead you try to make peace with(in) yourself and then move through existence without truly taking root. Or maybe you jump through realities like America Chavez and just enjoy the ride. Bonzai is putting words to an experience that may seem far out, but to me is intensely familiar — and we’re not alone. So yeah, she maybe seems high or crazy, or maybe she’s just trying to live.

Reader average: [9] (1 vote)

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2 Responses to “Bonzai – I Feel Alright”

  1. wow Anjy’s blurb is so good

  2. Big Freedia remix klaxon