Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Cheat Codes & Little Mix – Only You

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[4.29]

Lauren Gilbert: Meh. That’s about all I’ve got here; it’s technically proficient — I’m not rushing to turn it off — but with none of the Little Mix magic that animates their best songs. From “Salute” to “Shout Out To My Ex,” Little Mix’s strongest songs are when they are aware of their own “Power”, but here they’re limp, as if dependent on Cheat Codes to fix them. They’re not defined here; Jade could easily be replaced with Demi Lovato or Meghan Trainor or Any Other Female Vocalist and little would change. Presumably it’s meant to build on last year’s equally generic “Reggaetón Lento”, and it may well do that; it has the same vaguely-tropical-but-like-not-actually-in-a-way-that-confuses-white-people sound (“Shape of You,” I’m looking at you). Look, Perrie, your ex got to these cliches first and his song wasn’t any good either. This is only barely an improvement; I know you can do better.
[3]

Katherine St Asaph: Cheat Codes can’t decide whether they’re writing festival house (the drop) or desperate, overheated Europop (the verses). The former is done steelier than average, and the latter is a guilty pleasure of mine. But they just don’t work together, and neither of them works for Little Mix. The former continues the group’s heartbreaking trajectory of discarding everything that made them special and joyous. The latter does terrible things to their voices, distorting them in a studio torture machine until they start sounding like Shakira — Leigh-Anne’s prechorus has it particularly bad.
[4]

Alfred Soto: Whenever I get close to enjoying Little Mix the thinness of their inflexible vocals repels me, and Cheat Codes’ post-house trappings do their best repelling job.
[4]

Ramzi Awn: There’s a lot going on on “Only You,” but it manages to conjure up about a dozen influences with subtlety. The refrain is filled with pain, and the sample stabs do what dance music does best: give levity to suffering. The result is an ode to codependency riding the line between celebration and devastation. Like a cry for rain, the song’s thirst goes unquenched — you can practically feel the dry night air at the end when the stomps kick in — but in its yearning, “Only You” finds some hard-hitting hooks.
[9]

Thomas Inskeep: Cheat Codes make EDM-pop that’s absolute garbage — so much so that not even Little Mix (who, to be fair, aren’t the most personality-laden girl group) can brighten this up.
[1]

Dorian Sinclair: I don’t have any quarrel with “Only You” — it’s not reinventing the wheel, musically or lyrically, but it knows what it’s doing and does it fairly well. One thing I will say is that I do think it’s a shame to get a group who are more than capable of complex multipart harmonies to perform on your track if you aren’t going to take full advantage of that ability. I enjoy the glimpses of that we get in the final chorus, but having the harmonies and counterpoint make their first appearance so late in the track feels like a bit of an odd choice.
[5]

Edward Okulicz: The wobby longing and then EDM cliches bring to mind — and the comparison is unfavourable — Rita Ora’s sparkling and surprisingly enduring “Anywhere.” Little Mix themselves function best in sparkly girl-gang mode, harmonising as a means to bliss, and the treatment and blending of voices here make them sound downright horrible.
[4]

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