Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Lauren Jauregui – Expectations

If only there were a pun to be made involving the score and the name of the defunct girl group…


Taylor Alatorre: This is Jauregui’s opening bid for steady top 40 rotation, so it makes sense that it’s not so much blues as blues-flavored. Those competing for Best American Roots Song at next year’s Grammys can rest easy. The problem with “Expectations” is that it exists in this awkward liminal space between the synthetic and the authentic, making gestures toward the latter while palpably afraid of committing to either. Thus you get a rip-roaring guitar solo which is marred by sharing the exact same beat as the rest of the song, only with extraneous breathing noises layered over it. The stiltedness of the whole exercise distracts from Jauregui’s vocals, which are the obvious high point. Otherwise, this is a prime example of a theoretically bold choice not being backed up by boldness in execution.

Stephen Eisermann: Slinky, sexy, and, most of all, surprising, as I didn’t expect this level of quality out of Lauren from the gate. “Expectations” serves as a proper introduction to Lauren’s style, as it feels so fully her, and the songwriting is mightily impressive for a debut effort. There’s something so sexy about this woman singing her peace, not in ballad form, but in the form of a smooth, provocative number.

Jessica Doyle: There’s one good line — “and we’re in the same fucking bed” — that stands out all the more for the rest of the song being weirdly structured and oddly, for such a simple concept, undercooked. To want more honest communication with her lover is to raise expectations for the relationship, not abandon them. Either she’s given up hope or she believes the lover might still respect her energy, but the latter position doesn’t flow from the former. It doesn’t help that Jauregui has to slow down awkwardly on some lines and then rush through others. This should have been an easy win, given her ability to project emotion; someone botched it.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: “All these tears that I’ve cried/while I’m turned to the side/and you’re in the same fucking bed” is a line imbued with so much bitterness and despair that it alone makes “Expectations” worth hearing. The remaining lyrics are unable to match it, and the song mostly feels like a shallow attempt at illuminating Jauregui’s artistic capabilities. Still, she does her best to make do, and the sultry guitar solo is a nice touch.

Ramzi Awn: Lauren has her work cut out for her. She delivers an impressive vocal, but not even the expletive in the chorus can lift “Expectations” out of humdrum gloom. Technically, the single does everything right and then some. Unfortunately, it also does everything you would expect from smoky, soulful rhythm and blues served on a crackling beat. It’s not an easy ceiling to shatter, and it’s not always worth trying.

Alfred Soto: “Expectations” gets by on spirit, its arpeggiated guitar figure, and Lauren Jauregui’s mild gravelly power (I dig the pause inserted into “I’ve been already been through seven…scenarios”), but she pays a price: mixing her voice so damn high exposes the psychobabble incoherence. If they “engaged” in “communication,” then her expectations will have been raised, no? What kind of person doesn’t have expectations? 

Katherine St Asaph: “I wish I had no expectations” is nihilist as fuck, but it’s a wish probably many girls have had, being synonymous with the everpresent standard of “just seeing where things go.” So many pop singles present girls contorting themselves against themselves in an attempt to be the Chill Girl: “Chill demands that you see a Read receipt followed by a ‘Hey, was asleep’ text three hours later and not proceed to throw your phone into the nearest volcano. Chill asks you to be like, ‘LOL, what volcano?’ Chill presides over the funeral of reasonable expectations.” Vocals follow scenario; unlike Chainsmoking dudes who put precisely zero effort into their singing, “Expectations” and songs like it call for huge amounts of tortured effort via belting. The grasp at post-X Factor authenticity is loud and palpable — like Khalid and 5H bandmate Normani’s “Love Lies,” “Expectations” even starts with faux vinyl crackle. The “I expect, you expect, we expect” line isn’t as clever as it clearly wants to be, and Jauregui’s voice isn’t quite up to this yet; the last half of the chorus reveals its thinness. But there’s a larger-than-you’d-think audience for pop-soul singles like this.

John Seroff: The production apes Salaam Remi well enough and Jauregui is plenty technically strong, but too much polish, not enough gutbucket, and some awkward phrasing means “Expectations” never rises above Winehouse-ish. Clear out some of the contrivances and you’ve certainly got a better mission statement than “All Night“; here’s hoping she stays on this track instead.

Reader average: [9] (1 vote)

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2 Responses to “Lauren Jauregui – Expectations”

  1. Agh I thought this was going up later! I would have given an 8 or 9.

  2. I did not think I would be the highest score, tbh.

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