Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Paloma Faith – Crybaby

Don’t cry Paloma! It’s your best TSJ score!


Claire Biddles: Paloma Faith approaches “Crybaby” with big ambitions: Challenging toxic masculinity and wondering if “things [would] be resolved without attack and with measured discussion” if men were allowed to express their feelings without the pressures of patriarchal society. Which is great! It’s an important issue that feels particularly heated in this contemporary moment. But her attempts come off as half-hearted at best and after-school-special at worst: Super inoffensive disco-lite is paired with corny phrasing like “Don’t have to man up/That phrase kinda sucks.” There’s of course a bigger conversation about politics and its place in pop to be had, and it’s not Faith’s responsibility to “be political,” but I wish her good intentions were matched with musical or lyrical conviction. 

Alfred Soto: I didn’t expect a song called “Crybaby” to sound this ebullient, nor did I expect the late ’70s Philly sound — all piano, clipped guitar, and kick drum.

Stephen Eisermann: A groovy track with a great message about the power of a good cry for, yes, even men. It’s fun and refreshing, but the production could definitely afford to be turned down a bit as Paloma’s voice struggles sometimes to even be heard.

Edward Okulicz: The song’s not as good as its writers’ intentions, but in meshing together some easy listening lite disco adult contemporary (i.e. it sounds like Taylor Dayne’s version of “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love” — yay!) with a message, Faith is more believable than usual. The chorus is rote like a store-bought card of condolence, but it’s hard to block out the good vibes on this one. Maybe the amiable arrangement works to the song’s detriment, you could bop along and not really read into The Message That Is The Point, which I hope was accidental. Because someone inside the machine that made this song cares.

Iain Mew: It’s lush in a more comfortable and enjoyable way than her previous singles, and the topic brings a bit of novelty to a quite traditional production. When it comes to encouraging your man to show emotions, Hello Saferide has done it much better, but that’s not really a fair standard. I don’t think it’s too unfair, though, to ask that a song that righteously has a go at “man up” shouldn’t then say what “a real man” does, even in aid of a different standard to the norm. Can’t we take all this stuff apart instead of just redirecting it?

William John: “Crybaby” is about as relaxed as Paloma Faith has ever sounded; nurturing, wryly smiling, encouraging unshackling, and serving warm disco. Quite why it was decided that it needed to be paired with a video that borrows more than a few aesthetic cues from The Handmaid’s Tale is still a mystery, but when that mystery is solved, I hope it doesn’t muddy the pure breeziness of the song itself.

Will Adams: If you really want to see me cry, play me Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Cry,” a far better song about the pain a man’s emotional disengagement can cause both parties. What won’t make me cry is an “I feel ya!” lecture about toxic masculinity that’s undermined by lines like “a real man shows his feelings.”

Ryo Miyauchi: “Crybaby” comes off too self-serving for it to truly mean well. Paloma Faith claims herself as an ally through a stale take on a cliche — “don’t have to man up/that phrase kinda sucks” — and the wittiness calls attention more to her than the real problem.

Rebecca A. Gowns: This is actually something new. Rather, it FEELS like something new. Yes, it’s got all the elements of the stuff that came before; it’s a disco re-hash, it’s a pop amalgam, it’s got a dash of Jackson 5 here and a dash of Michael Jackson there, but mostly it just sounds… refreshing! Re-imagined! I’m willing to believe this might just be the same old water marketed as alkaline island water fortified with electrolytes, but at this very moment, it tastes just how it looks on the tin. Superb!

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