Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho

Yeah, what 2018 really needed was #bitchesbecrazy in song form. Thanks.

Edward Okulicz: Theoretically this is right in my wheelhouse. Despite the embarrassment of riches on the pop charts in the 2000s, I spent a good part of that decade nostalgic for the 1990s. So 2018 is exactly when the late-00s, early-10s kinda-EDM, mostly-pop of “Sweet but Psycho” should be just the tonic. But it’s hard to enjoy something that’s like Frankenstein’s monster of melodic snatches from better songs and lyrical cliches that make me scan the credits to see who out of Jessie J and Katy Perry co-wrote it. Turns out it’s neither, but Cirkut produced, which tells you everything you need to know — he’s the master of actual lowest common denominator pap and hasn’t fluked a good single in five years. This is the fast food of nostalgia pandering, having the form but not the taste of its inspirations. Would get a 5 if it banged, but the beat does nothing and the song doesn’t hint at any actual danger or sexual frisson.

Lilly Gray: I hope everyone is ready for the sweet kikyo/inuyasha AMV I’m about to make with this.

Alfred Soto: It takes a couple listens to shake the undulating charm of the electro pop production; it’s confident. But the lyrics descend to a Katy Perry level of trolling.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Ava Max’s “Not Your Barbie Girl” was a Feminist Anthem whose message of independence and consent felt like it was written by a group of clueless middle-aged men. With “Sweet But Psycho,” I’m not so sure that her songwriters are anything but a team of bots with a poorly implemented machine learning algorithm. There’s a dead-eyed coldness to this that is wildly off-putting, far removed from projecting a sort of sinister emotionlessness than simply showcasing an incompetent performance. The vocal melodies bring to mind second-rate Lady Gaga and the “Numa Numa” song, but the lyrics prove impossibly worse. “Sweet but Psycho” uses its titular descriptors as a starting point for the most inane lines — “She tastes so sweet, don’t sugarcoat it”; “She’s poison but tasty”; “So left but she’s right though” — indicating to listeners that the artists involved are content with spewing out grade school-level wit. The song’s greatest fault, however, is how it’s such a wasteful use of the medium: it would rather relay information about this particular person than demonstrate their qualities through any of the music.

Ian Mathers: The title is kind enough to let us all know that is probably A Bad Idea before we even hit play — unless you’re into dumb, regressive cliches, I guess — and nothing about the execution (I imagine most of us will mention early Lady Gaga, and justly so, with some Shakira-ish tinges to her voice) does anything to contradict that impression.

Will Adams: “Don’t sugarcoat it,” she sings, except that’s exactly what the chirpy backing does — it’s a few horns and handclaps away from a Meghan Trainor production! Also, the problem with basing your hook off of early Gaga is that it evokes the era when pop lyrics were skewing edgy and the music actually followed suit.

Stephen Eisermann: As generic as no-name pop songs come, the most interesting part of this song is how hard Ava Max tries to sell “you’ll be saying no, no, then saying, yes, yes, yes” as a good lyric. No amount of ad-libs can prevent me from laughing during that part.

Taylor Alatorre: “Are you sweet? [or] (a little bit) psycho?” asks Ava Max’s official website, rendering the dichotomy even more rigid than the song itself does. Without even getting into the effects of stigmatizing language, this mass marketing of benign mental illness has been one of the least interesting concepts in pop for some time. It’s a good thing it’s attached here to some almost entirely ill-fitting music, with peppy hand claps, bright tunnels of synths, and pitch-shifted vocals that thankfully outnumber the stock scream effects.

Katherine St Asaph: Given the current Ice Age of chill-to-motionless pop I may question Cirkut’s judgment in releasing a blatant The Fame ripoff, but it’s also oddly refreshing. (It’s the 10th anniversary, after all!) Even the lyrics, though bad, are about as deep as that ever got. But this is like ripping off the saccharine “Paparazzi” chorus (the worst early Gaga song), the “ma-ma-ma-ma” from “Poker Face” because you have to, and nothing else.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: This sounds like the 5th best single off an electro-pop album from 2010 and has lyrics that are somehow even more tired than its production. Who is this for?

Reader average: [3.58] (29 votes)

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3 Responses to “Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho”

  1. I fucking SCREAMED at Lilly’s blurb

  2. This song is going to be huge and I hate it.

  3. it’s already pretty massive in the Western markets that aren’t the US. Huge in western and northern Europe – I can attest that it is pretty much constantly being played somewhere. Whether I’m flipping stations at the gym, in an Uber, a shopping centre, or an airport, the damn song is everywhere.