Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

Clean Bandit ft. Demi Lovato – Solo

I don’t wanna be a chicken, I don’t wanna be a duck, so I shake my FWOOP FWOOP FWOOP


Iain Mew: What if “Solo Dancing” was actually about what its video thought it was about, went as direct as “you’re the only one I’m coming for” and also chose to use the medium of stuttered vocal sample to explore cry/quack dualism? Complete with the emotional clarity of “Symphony” and the friendly audacity of “Rockabye?” No need to wonder any more, and Clean Bandit’s success in everything they try is getting almost too good to believe.

Claire Biddles: After the middling Julia Michaels collab “I Miss You” Clean Bandit are back to their winning streak. “Solo” is a checklist of all the best Clean Bandit characteristics: (literally) banging chorus, cannily-selected guest vocalist, and um, esoteric lyrical content. I’ve written before about my enthusiasm for their weirdo sensibilities, so I was practically cheering when I first heard that “WOOP WOOP WOOP” wanking metaphor. It feels good to have a pop mainstay as reliably odd as Clean Bandit.

Will Adams: There might be something interesting in the concept of a song about female masturbation that explores its loneliness instead of cheeky, I-see-what-you-did-there empowerment. But it’s hard to contemplate that over the sound of “I wanna FWOOP FWOOP FWOOP but I’m broken hearted” and my ensuing laughter.

Katherine St Asaph: Never mind the irony of a supposed female empowerment song — it’s not, not unless you consider “I’m so devastated over this dude, all I can do is desperately masturbate” empowering — turning Demi Lovato, a distinctive singer with things to say, first into a nondescript voice then into wordless chopped-up babble. We’re still stuck with that trend, it seems. The real problem is that evocative babble, as in “Breathe,” is hard to pull off; more often, you’ll end up in narm, as in “Make Me (Cry).” You just can’t convey pathos as Crazy Frog.

Ryo Miyauchi: While Demi goes about it casually without a need to angle it as if it’s something out of character, it still sounds a bit too labored with its attempt to center it as its main draw. Clean Bandit has some offenses with its cut-and-paste, self-censoring chorus, but Demi also got some puns in there that bat a wink a little too hard.

Alfred Soto: About a decade ago, the whistle made a comeback to the pop song. Now the stutter’s cool. As usual Demi Lovato brings her formidable charisma to a production that could use a Xanax. 

Vikram Joseph: Totally passable, profoundly average trop-house-pop. You’d dance to it because your friends are dancing to it and it’s easier than not dancing to it; hell, it might even absorb some sort of transient significance if you heard it enough times on holiday somewhere hot. Chances are you won’t remember much about it, though.

Juana Giaimo: It’s a pleasant surprise to find Demi Lovato having complete control over her voice. The fast EDM beat isn’t just suitable for the strong vocals she displays in her own songs. The vocal distortion of the chorus adds some fun effects suitable for a party kind of song. As for the lyrics, many are already pointing it them out as a female masturbation anthem and the music video confirms it. This is still something to celebrate — considering that for the world, women don’t know about self-pleasure. However, it’s quite disappointing that it’s called “Solo” and not “Sola,, that is, the feminine form of the adjective “alone.”  

Stephen Eisermann: Demi always sounds best on songs that aren’t her own and I’m convinced it’s because the producers and people in the studio aren’t too scared to tell her to dial it down. Her restrained vocals are more pleasant and versatile than the overwhelming belt she seems to love to use. Much like a kid is better behaved at a friend’s house than his own, Demi doesn’t bombard us with belts on this track. Oh, and the production is cute, too.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: While I’m convinced that the best Demi Lovato songs are those that work with — and justify — her propensity for unrestrained vocalizing, it’s always refreshing to hear her do something relatively tame. “Solo,” however, completely hinges on how one reads the chorus. While I’d argue that the stuttering Farmer See ‘n Say vocal edits stymie the lyrical themes (female masturbation is empowering funny?), the song would be considerably less memorable without them. So, uh:

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13 Responses to “Clean Bandit ft. Demi Lovato – Solo”

  1. is the photo a reference to duck club


  2. thank you Katherine for reminding me of “Make Me (Cry)” and making me (laugh) all over again


  4. also really liked the solo/sola insight from juana!

  5. I didn’t blurb this because it’s not necessarily about the song, but what is going on with Demi Lovato’s career? Between these odd forays into EDM vocalist (but not wanting to do “The Middle”???), her ~sexy urban sound~, and the stuff she’s doing with Luis Fonsi in Latin pop (shoutout “Échame la Culpa,” which is actually great), like what is Demi Lovato actually trying to do…?

  6. um, let’s not forget about Demi’s banger from ‘Here We Go Again,’ also titled “Solo”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivc48Mvy9so

    I am also confused on Demi’s awkward, kinda-non-committal dip into these markets, especially her EDM ones because I think she’d actually do well if she put more effort into it.

  7. Exactly! “Instruction” and “No Promises” were really good. IMO better than probably 80% of what showed up on the album?

  8. co-sign this “instruction” enthusiasm

  9. oh no I read the follow-up to the duck club post and :( :( :(

  10. I always wanted to know where are these places where a duck club is even a good idea. Also, TSJ should start its own advice column.

  11. This will be this year’s ‘Anywhere’. Overlooked by you guys but in essence a really awesome song

  12. photo was a reference to:

  13. which i heard independent of that post and honestly improves my enjoyment of the song considerably!