Friday, July 6th, 2018

Christina Aguilera ft. Demi Lovato – Fall in Line

Weak song can’t match up to the powerful pipes…


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Katherine St Asaph: Like “Me Against the Music,” a symbolic torch-passing from one pop generation to another, this time with their respective generations’ powerhouse vocalists. Also like “Me Against the Music,” a torch that first belonged to a non-celebrity — Penelope Magnet in that, Audra Mae in this. Unlike “Little Red Wagon,” Audra’s recording wasn’t released, so it’s impossible to say whether Christina and Demi improved on it. She’s also worked with Kelly Clarkson, and I suspect “Fall in Line” was pitched to Kelly — there’s a conservative edge to the lyrics, less “Can’t Hold Us Down” than “I Do Not Hook Up,” and just short of slut-shaming. (“Show some skin, make him want you,” because God forbid you want that, or even just want to wear a damn sundress in this heat wave.) But like all these ballads, the point’s in the voice — Christina and Demi claiming vocal space amid widespread misogynist disdain for “oversinging.” If the didactic lyrics are the theory, the vocals are the practice — and the 6/8 simmer is the thing that makes it work as a song. Shame that dude barges in at the end to jerk off all over everything.
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Alex Clifton: It’s an inspirational message, and honestly Christina x Demi are a fine match. But a song called “Fall In Line” shouldn’t feel so paint-by-the-numbers. I often think some of Christina’s music could do to be more “restrained” (mostly because it gets clogged with runs and vocal pyrotechnics rather than, like, the actual song), but a song like this demands something far brassier, like the explosiveness of Demi’s “Confident.” If you’re going to write a self-empowerment song, make it loud and anthemic so that no-one can ignore you.
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Thomas Inskeep: I appreciate the sentiment, but it’sssssss tooooooooo sloooooowwwwww.
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Julian Axelrod: This is not for me. “Melodramatic Bond theme” has never been my favorite type of ballad, although the gender politics here couldn’t be further from Fleming’s works. And while Christina and Demi can belt a song like this in their sleep, their duet feels less like a unified display of strength and more like a sing-off from The Voice. And yet: This is not for me. This is for the women who have spent their whole lives being torn down and told they’re not good enough. This is for the women who are sick of that disembodied voice telling them to shut up and stick their ass out. And if those women hear two powerhouse singers laying waste to the system that’s abused them and feel a little bit more powerful, then none of my critiques matter one bit.
[6]

Alfred Soto: They can sing, as their performances never stop reminding us. By the time the turgid last minute rolls over us the effect is akin to one of those forgotten Whitney Houston duets. “All the youth in the world will not save you from growing older” might’ve been a solid adage on which to build performances that didn’t hide behind technique to show how almost twenty-five years in the industry between them gives Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato the necessary credibility. The song is fine, the duet a strafing session. 
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Abdullah Siddiqui: Aguilera and Lovato rely too much on their combined star power. As a result, everything about this track works except for Aguilera and Lovato. While they each do an impressive job vocally, there just doesn’t seem to be enough room in the sonic scope of this song for two heavy-duty powerhouse vocalists. Perhaps if they’d just put a little more thought into how the vocals are structured harmonically, it wouldn’t sound so haphazard. The instrumental is executed with a lot of finesse, but its subtleties are overpowered by the blaring vocals. The pitched down rap in the bridge is a brilliant concept, but it doesn’t sound fully integrated into the rest of the instrumental. But that’s an issue one can overlook. This would have been a perfectly good song had any one of the vocalists chosen not to exert her voice to the extreme, or to simply sit this one out.
[5]

Ramzi Awn: When two powerhouses come together to fall in line, the expectations are high. Fortunately, the single does not disappoint, playing to Christina’s strengths as both a balladeer and a collaborator (she has been most successful in recent years on features.) Lovato adds the element of conflict that’s been missing from Christina’s oeuvre for some time. Demi is in full swing, riding a career high on the heels of the full-length Tell Me You Love Me and “Sober.” Her cachet is not lost on “Fall in Line.” The result is a classic Christina Aguilera power ballad with an effortless arch. Back to basics.  
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Stephen Eisermann: Handmaid’s Tale: The Musical sure lacks the subtlety of the original show.
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Vikram Joseph: The strident, discontentedly lurching “Fall In Line” has a fair bit going for it — two very accomplished vocalists, an uncompromising feminist message, punchy brass and a sublime key change. I’m not sure why I’m not more sold on it — Christina and Demi’s constant attempts to out-caterwaul each other get exhausting, certainly, and it feels much longer than its 4-minute runtime.
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Rebecca A. Gowns: The entertainment industry is a microcosm of the rest of society; while it’s mostly kept hidden behind a curtain, every once in a while a light shines into the dark, illuminating not only its corruption, but also the systems that keep the rest of us subjugated. This is what has been happening lately with “#metoo” and what makes people feel like, “What, all of this? All of a sudden?” It’s barely the tip of the iceberg, it has been happening, it still happens, it will continue to happen until it’s radically restructured. So what do you do, as a parent, when you have a talented kid who yearns for the limelight? That was me — always climbing onto stages, doing impressions, singing songs in grocery stores. I did community theatre and auditioned for shady agencies that promised to give me a big break for cash upfront. My mom was always nervous about it and held me back from pursuing it as much as I wanted to. I begged and pleaded for performing arts camps, modeling searches at the mall, trips to Hollywood (only 45 minutes away!), and she always denied me. She saw the lines of kids lined up at auditions and it reminded her of lambs led to slaughter. At best, it’s a series of disappointments and trying to fit yourself into what other people want, risking losing sight of what you actually want for yourself; at worst, there’s wolves in the bed dressed up like grandmothers. I didn’t see what she saw; I only saw the glimmer. And then, as an adult: I worked as a babysitter in Hollywood. I babysat child actors. And suddenly, I could see what my mom had seen: the whole game is rigged, the prize is a gilded cage, and if you want a shot at the prize — and you have to, you have to push yourself until you want it with your whole being — you have to fall in line.
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