Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

The Chainsmokers ft. Kelsea Ballerini – This Feeling

There’s been some confusion over genre-tagging here at Shiz…


Crystal Leww: The Chainsmokers want their own “The Middle,” and Kelsea Ballerini proves to be a more than competent Maren Morris counterpart. I’m not-so-secretly thrilled; I thought Taylor Swift was going to be the blueprint for future country-pop popular success, but this is more immediate, more dumb, more in-your-face about its intentions and its style. Emily Warren yet again proves that she’s one of the best songwriters in the game — this has such a not-so-clever-but-thinks-it-is chorus — and Ballerini and Taggart are excellent vocalists to bring it forth in an open-hearted and sweet way. EDM-pop is back to being dead, but its fighting for its last gasp has been loud and dumb and fun, just like it was in its prime.

Anthony Easton: Trying for that FGL Bebe Rexha success, and the Chainsmokers are nearly as bad as FGL, but Kelsea has a delicate voice capable of a certain amount of emotional toughness. It’s frustrating that her voice is much less interesting here than it has been anywhere else, but chase those dollars.

Alfred Soto: From the strumming and chipmunk voices to singing as if watching a bouncing ball on a teleprompter, it’s clear the Chainsmokers have invested not a cent of their hard-earned 2016 earnings into songwriting workshops. Kelsea Ballerini comes no closer than Halsey to embodying “this” “feeling.”

Thomas Inskeep: This feeling is hatred, provoked by hearing the one Chainsmoker singing like the douche-bro he so clearly is.

Taylor Alatorre: The vibe the Chainsmokers constantly give off is that they’re different from all those other EDM acts populating the Billboard charts — they actually believe lyrics matter. Such a cloying mindset doesn’t always lead to bad results, but it does when the Chainsmokers think they can whip up catharsis just by diagramming a situation that’s vaguely emotional. It’s unclear to whom this “story” is being addressed, with both Ballerini and Taggart too absorbed in meta-commentary to engage with one another or the real underlying issues. But we still get that big fireworks moment at the end, to justify all the build-up and to fool us into thinking some sort of breakthrough has occurred. If you’re paying less attention than the Chainsmokers want you to, it almost works.

Iain Mew: It’s the old tale of head versus heart that Ellie Goulding reversed so fruitfully, with only the orphan addition of “hands at my neck” doing anything more with the theme (I refuse to count “nod their heads”). It would have been more entertaining if they’d gone for an entire litany of body parts, Darius on colours style, rather than just tacking a few onto a different well-worn line (the “I put it in this song” meta). It’s the same story sonically, in that we’re stranded between The Chainsmokers Drop (with leftover added Coldplay) and the staccato of “The Middle,” and I’d rather be listening to either.

Stephen Eisermann: What are these lyrics? Put aside the pretty standard “country”-EDM hybrid production for a second. We’re promised a story and we get… a line? I kept waiting for a story, however cliche, a la “Eastside,” but all we get was a statement. And even then, is it a statement? Is pivoting from I’ll tell you a story to don’t judge me, but I love him lol even a statement, or is it lazy writing? Kelsea sounds nice on pop production, though.

Katherine St Asaph: The petulant spike to Warren’s lyrics (“no one listens to me, so I put it in a song”) combined with the pre-chorus and its closest thing to a guitar riff you can get away with in a 2018 pop single, makes me want this to turn into a Ballerini-fronted “Semi-Charmed Life” or “My Own Worst Enemy,” which would rule (and where a chorus of nothing but “and I say yeah” would totally make sense). Instead we get two genres, both bad: a chorus of snippetized whatevers — the convenient thing about 2018 EDM-pop is you can write one template and then vomit the sounds out in different patterns — and limpid pop-country that averages both vocalists out for the worse. Ballerini’s twang and sass are gone, and the Chainsmoker dude sings in a groggy, overprocessed low register: clearly trying to sound like a reputable, sensitive Dan + Shay type but not quite managing, like a frat guy smiling in a dean-friendly polo shirt for philanthropy day but still a little too hungover to pull it off.

Hannah Jocelyn: Mr. Taggart, you are a young man who thinks in terms of hooks and drops. There are no hooks. There are no drops. There is no room for “heart vs head” debates. There is only one holistic algorithm of algorithms, one vast, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of trap and adult contemporary infused with trap. Am I getting through to you, Mr. Taggart? You get up on your three-minute pop song with a country singer and pretend this isn’t basically just “The Middle” via “Closer” and, I guess, “Winter Winds.” There is no one listening to pop music. There is only abusive SoundCloud rap, Spotify-influenced pop, and some country filler here and there. You have meddled with the primal forces of 2018 pop music, Mr. Taggart. You won’t need to atone because no one cares about you anyway. (It’s a shame, because I actually kind of dig this.)

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: There’s nothing left to write about The Chainsmokers and I think they realize that– why else would they do a song that just sounds like their entire last album averaged out?

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The best moment of “This Feeling” is when Kelsea Ballerini screams out “I say yeah-e-eh-eh” and the chorus swoops in to follow her lead. In deciding to follow her heart (er, “that thing in her chest”), it suddenly feels like the entire world is cheering her on and nothing else matters. And then Taggart’s voice comes in and sounds comparatively dreadful. And then the second pre-chorus throws in a tacked-on kick drum to remove all tension. And then the bridge arrives to ruin everything beautiful about the song with a corny “my friends say nooo-e-oh-oh.” And then the song ends.

Reader average: [3.33] (3 votes)

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