Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Tove Lo ft. Charli XCX, Icona Pop, Elliphant & Alma – Bitches

Bitches give them what they want, but is this what we want?


Julian Axelrod: The Armageddon to Rita Ora’s Deep Impact: bigger, nastier, simultaneously cynical and sincere, more obsessed with oral sex. (Note: I haven’t seen Deep Impact or Armagedon.)

Alfred Soto: As much as I want to embrace a track with this line-up and an impressive first verse, the chorus exhales such a whiff of enervation that it’s hard to keep focused. I want more from what looks like the Traveling Wilburys of Electronic Female Empowerment. 

Alex Clifton: Imagine if “Cool For the Summer” had ever been explicit about sex. Despite being stuffed with a roster of who’s-who in Nordic pop (plus the ever-present Charli XCX), “Bitches” never feels bloated with its guests, which increasingly feels like a rarity with some of these multi-feature tracks. After the superstar disappointment of “Girls,” “Bitches” is an assault of raunch and confidence and sex appeal in a way that could only Tove Lo could deliver. Guess it helps when you’re not pussyfooting around the subject.

Ryo Miyauchi: The guest names don’t really matter much when they all end up sounding relatively alike. Like many of her songs, “Bitches” derives character from Tove Lo’s one-layer-removed approach to chart pop, like she learned American slang and attitude strictly via pop songs. But the charade also makes the aggressive sex talk fit rather awkwardly as it goes down the line, and it echoes more and more hollow with each guest tackling it from a similar in-your-face mode of delivery.

John Seroff: I’m torn: on the one hand, anything that adds to the positive normalization of a broader spectrum of pop sexuality strikes me as positive. Even so, everyone involved has done better work and comes off vaguely bored with the entire exercise. I can’t help but hear this as a pedestrian, try-hard cousin to, say, even the least interesting track on Plunge.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Even after the novelty of the song’s conceit (which doesn’t feel all that provocative in 2018, if we’re going to be honest) wears off, “Bitches” holds up decently well — the synths cut in the right way, laying an almost-imperial scene for Tove Lo et al. Maybe 5  Euro-pop singers on the features is a bit repetitive, but it lends to the song’s dominant mood (and unlike certain other songs with similar ambitions, they all sound like they’re working towards the same goal.)

Katherine St Asaph: The power of juxtaposition: a song with the frequently repeated hook “bitches, I don’t trust ’em, but they give me what I want for the night” is called empowering. Maybe it’s just because Tove Lo set out to write a jaded song, as she does, but nobody else thought or cared how jaded it was. What they offer instead varies. Charli XCX basically does her “Drugs” verse, Icona Pop miraculously out-explicit Tove Lo, while Elliphant and Alma less impressively sling woo and mispronounce Aphrodite. (Did “Dark Horse” teach us nothing?) If only this remix were the guitar onslaught Tove’s verse so clearly calls for — what Kesha’s Warrior could have been, were she not surrounded by assholes — rather than a songwriters’ showcase.

Reader average: [7.5] (2 votes)

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2 Responses to “Tove Lo ft. Charli XCX, Icona Pop, Elliphant & Alma – Bitches”

  1. Great job everyone! I wanted to blurb, but I couldn’t pin down if this song was actually living up to its own goals.

  2. Update: Still don’t know if it does anything right, but I love it.