Monday, January 15th, 2018

James Arthur – Naked

Somehow scoring even lower than last time


Katherine St Asaph: So flaccid, it might as well be pop’s equivalent of the Mull of Kintyre test.

Austin Brown: Lyrically, Drake’s “Hotline Bling” but with none of the eye for detail or self-deprecation. Musically, imagine some dude hearing Skylar Grey’s chorus on Eminem’s “Monster” and deciding to turn it into a torch song. 

Stephen Eisermann: “Will James Arthur ever release something not boring,” I ask myself as I hit play. The song ends and I have my answer: no. 

Alex Ostroff: I was originally going to write something flippant about bland post-Chris Martin British balladry, James Blunt, and The X Factor, but then I paid closer attention to the lyrics, which reveal that this is so much worse than simply boring. Uncomfortable levels of entitlement and possessiveness framed as vulnerability and drenched in a musical arrangement that seems to think issuing demands and blaming someone for your own misplaced expectations is a grand romantic gesture.

Will Adams: James just wants to see beneath your beautiful, but unfortunately his central lyric about him standing naked before this woman brings more to mind one of the many horror stories of harassment we’ve been hearing the past few months.

Iain Mew: A demonstration of the perils of writing in broad lines of relationship cliché. Give some benefit of the doubt and “Naked” is a picture of a physical relationship that he’s the more emotionally invested in, and he’s after the same from her. But the way that he doesn’t want to truly commit to specifics gives a grim plausibility to the “half of you” he’s not getting being physical, leaving him singing about how he’s not going to wait for her to choose to “take it to the next level” before getting naked. Even on the more generous reading, the cloying pleading sounds like one more guy who has taken “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” too much to heart.

Ryo Miyauchi: He begins with casual speak, but he’s not here to have a friendly conversation. He claims to be transparent about his frustration, gripping a fist, but he doesn’t sound truly furious. The music is forlorn, though it never presses urgency. It’s a confusing mood all around, and worst part is that James Arthur probably thinks his final word is pretty simple to understand.

Micha Cavaseno: Dribbling balladeering that seems to crawl further and further into pretense and surprisingly vicious egomania for the sake of so-called soul-baring. On one hand, the underlying viciousness in the lyrics of “Naked” do allow for sincerity, but one that seems both obscenely demanding and reveals the utter self-delusion that propels him higher and higher into expectation. James Arthur is meant to come off earnest, but he seems frighteningly possessive, and the opulence of the arrangement suggests not any real discipline but a lot of impetuous greed for satisfaction. So bizarre.

Reader average: [2.66] (3 votes)

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3 Responses to “James Arthur – Naked”

  1. in the video for his song “naked,” james arthur implores the woman in front of him that he is “standing here naked” while he sits, fully clothed

  2. Surprised no one touched on the fact that this was Max Martin’s sole production credit in 2017 outside of Katy Perry/Pink/Taylor Swift.

  3. it’s easy to get distracted when someone’s standing there naked (also, wow)