Sometimes well-worn paths are worth going down…
Anthony Easton: Does MTV play enough music to debase anyone, and weirdly, at least on the reality shows, is not everyone showed to be pyschopathic and dysfunctional enough, that gendered readings slip out of reach? Nice piece of 3rd wave feminism; combative, angry, but self contained.
Alex Macpherson: “Woman’s World” offers a tantalising glimpse of an alternate British pop: one where Mz Bratt’s major label career took off, where Sadie Ama’s showing way back in the BBC Sound of 2007 shortlist was parlayed into success commensurate with her amazing music, where R&G became a vehicle for popular success rather than a brief flicker of femininity in grime. And is it just me, or do the shots of all three girls in their video bring to mind the Sugababes, at an angle? Not looks-wise, but in their pose and attitude; here is a better girl group template than the Saturdays we’ve been saddled with, and you know Mutya and Keisha wanted to make garage music all along anyway. What’s best about it as a song is how cool all three are with themselves: they have swagger because they’re so remarkably self-possessed. Sadie shines the brightest: the most delicate of the trio, she picks her way neatly from boast to boast before sweetly delivering the coup de grace she was born for: “Don’t need a Benz – I am Mersadie.” Davinche’s scuffed red carpet of a beat provides an appropriate platform.
Martin Skidmore: Best new British voice I’ve heard in a while — Selah’s vocal is powerful, lovely and exciting, and whether this women’s anthem is a hit or not, I expect to hear a lot more of her. It could succeed: the production is strong, modern R&B, Sadie is sweet, and Mz Bratt is lively. It’s a little bit sub-“1 Thing”, I guess (and I’d love to hear Selah working with Rich Harrison), but I could fall for Selah’s singing — she could well be very big, I hope.
John Seroff: There’s no sin in making a low-rent “Independent Women” as long as you bring the pomp and circumstance. There’s no lack of the former on “Woman’s World”, but circumstances don’t demand a track this generally lackluster. Decent stop-gap pop but nothing I’m feeling compelled to return to.
Jonathan Bogart: I like the ring-around-the-rosie turn-taking of the three vocalists in ascending order from smoothest to streetest. As a up-with-woman anthem, it’s no “I’m Every Woman,” but it’s not “I Am Woman” terrible, either; the inversion of James Brown’s standard-issue sexism is nice, but it’s missing his blow-out-the-speakers passion, too. I’d have to hear it again and again in order to fully determine what I think of it, and on balance I hope I do.
Michaelangelo Matos: Is every generation free to ignore the one before it, and thereby rewrite their womanist pop anthems unwittingly? Or is every generation just baldly recycling them? In this case I’m going to guess the former.
Katherine St Asaph: Depressing fact of the day: Selah said she wrote a women’s anthem because “there hadn’t really been anything like that before”. Facepalming aside, I can’t help but like this. Sure, there are a few holes — doesn’t it defeat the purpose here to wait around for a guy’s thank you? You’re presidential, so why just aim for first lady? But unlike too many other girl-power pieces, this is refreshingly free of hotness- or branding-based “empowerment”, and all three women have boatloads of talent. Long careers, please, for them all.