Monday, January 15th, 2018

Camila Cabello – Never Be the Same

Back from Cuba…


Stephen Eisermann: How do you go from “Havana” to this? Generic power-pop doesn’t suit Camila, so here’s hoping she returns to her winning Latin-infused formula, because goddamn does she rock those tracks.

Alfred Soto: The narcotized fog through which Camila Cabello beckons to a bad lover is familiar to Weeknd fans. Singing at the top of the range adds tension to a performance that incarnates you-can-do-better. 

Eleanor Graham: Love is a drug, like the strongest stuff ever, and the beautiful thing about that metaphor is that we hold it to be self-evident. We needn’t wring it out until we’re making heroin rhyme with nicotine. You can literally add an “e” to the end of that word, and it’s still pronounced the same. It’s not happening, Camila! Nevertheless, the production on this is awesome. That little rattle like a glass responding to a loose floorboard; those sparse high keys buried in the dense blurry synth, the sound of contained euphoria. Sunlight floods into the chorus, and its lyrics don’t need to be intelligent to be felt. It doesn’t soar quite high enough to be the electro-R&B epic it wants to be, but it’s a worthy experiment.

Alex Ostroff: There is so much going on in this track. Too much, possibly. The vocals yo-yo between the verses, which sit at the bottom of her range, and the chorus, which strains the top of her upper register. Meanwhile, the production zig-zags from thin synths to randomly inserted sirens to clattering percussion and “Bleeding Love” epic power ballad drums to a brief moment of the “Be My Baby” beat (except played by those very same Ryan Tedder drums), and a moment of spacey Weeknd synths in the pre-chorus. The more I listen to it, the more it almost coalesces into a song that works. Who knows? In a few weeks this could be a [7]. But right now, it still doesn’t quite hang together. Either way, as a follow-up to the excellent “Havana,” it suggests that Cabello’s solo career strategy is “throw everything, including the kitchen sink, against the wall, and see what sticks.”

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: The biggest surprise here is not the proggy synth blanket or the slick drum production on which this slow jam is based; it is Camila’s own performance. We have been used to her exaggerated vocalizations in both Fifth Harmony and her solo work, and in “Never Be The Same” she sounds not only balanced but also genuinely vulnerable. Another good surprise: She kind of lifted the chorus melody’s metric from Alejandro Sanz’s “No Es Lo Mismo,” which proves she really is a fan. 

Austin Brown: “Nicotine, heroin, morphine” — all calming, depressive, sluggish, even with nicotine technically being a stimulant. The song’s pleasant and a passable enough opiate, but I’d rather hear Camila write some songs about a lover who made her feel like she was on coke.

Micha Cavaseno: You know, I was glad that the vocal runs seemed to vanish once there was a lack of extra personnel on a record for Camila to think she had to upstage with her toxic melodrama. But uh, boy the way that falsetto comes in you can really tell she’s still ever determined to go for the jugular on records’ vitality and drain them of any vitality for the sake of nourishing herself. The production and her every delivery are hollow thuds clamoring for attention, and at the end of the day you have to ignore such petulance if you want to feel like you still have control in your life. Mark my words, assertion is necessary with such a terror.

Katherine St Asaph: A New York Times puff piece claims Camila Cabello has “found her voice,” which is strange, given that every note of hers from the past five years has been sung with the terror that it might go misplaced. “Never Be the Same” is illustrative. The verses are the standard low grotto register stuff of songwriters who write Rihanna songs for a Rihanna who hasn’t existed since Talk That Talk. (Those songwriters: Noonie Bao, as usual, and Sasha Yatchenko aka Sasha Sloan, whose journey from arch Charlotte Martin/Nellie McKay type to post-Fiona crooner to mainstream sadcore is all still online for now. Maybe Camila wrote something somewhere, who knows.) On the chorus she lets loose via conspicuously Auto-Tuned high register and blown-out belting that may well dethrone Adele for “most horrified writeups on vocal pedagogy blogs.” Producer Frank Dukes also does more than necessary via the industrial sounds of “Needed Me”: a low-flying plane, a dentist’s drill, some perilously Tedderesque drums, unexpected “Be My Baby.” Trying too hard means at least they’re trying though, and the result is a juggernaut of bad love decisions, like “Love Me Like You Do” with actual subtext.

Reader average: [5.87] (8 votes)

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One Response to “Camila Cabello – Never Be the Same”

  1. The irony of me and Katherine both invoking terror in different directions re: Camilla is truly beautiful.