Friday, February 22nd, 2019

The Chainsmokers ft. 5 Seconds of Summer – Who Do You Love

It’s the collaboration everyone except us was waiting for (even though we underrated “Youngblood” a bit).


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Alfred Soto: In 2015 this build-and-release formula of The Chainsmokers would’ve guaranteed them another hit. Their public image rests to such a degree on tumescence/detumescence that I’m glad they assembled a noise worthy of their wilt. 
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Joshua Minsoo Kim: Steady pianos, a chipper synth curlicue, a guitar line that teeters nervously, and dramatic downscale piano chords: the first four bars summarize the entirety of a relationship’s rise and fall. We find 5 Seconds of Summer near the tail end of it all, betrayed by an unfaithful lover, wanting to make sense of it all. Their angst and bitterness is validated by acoustic guitar strums and stadium stomps — they convince listeners of their moment of self-aggrandizing. But what was potentially the best Chainsmokers song in two years is nearly ruined by awful mixing in its final forty seconds; what should’ve been cathartic release becomes a muffled drag. Still, being cheated on doesn’t ever leave you feeling victorious, does it.
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Ian Mathers: I can’t be the only one who was hoping against hope this would be a Bo Diddley cover, right? At least that’s an interesting trainwreck (and doesn’t have any creepy lines about access codes, either).
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Thomas Inskeep: “Who Do You Love” incorporates every pop trend of the past 24 months into a song under four minutes; unfortunately, I actively dislike just about every pop trend of the past 24 months. So, this results in pretty much just what I expected/feared from this team-up. Also, I’m not convinced that either the Chainsmokers or 5SOS know what “conspicuous” means. 
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Iris Xie: This song troubles me. The combination of the squealy hook, the slaps, the guitar, and the EDM drop… it’s like my two least favorite timelines converged, with really boring acoustic pop songs and even more boring EDM songs. It’s so inoffensive, that I didn’t even consciously register it as a song — it’s background noise. This will definitely get played in boba shops all over the world.
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Nicholas Donohoue: Me (reading the title and artists): Okay, these two entities are both bro-y, both wrote one great song, most of the time are average blobby groups that are listenable. This will probably be average filler, but who knows, maybe like likes like. Me (stopping the song at 1:36): Oh my god, this is garbage. Why are you pronouncing these words like you just learned them? Why are the Chainsmokers enchanted with that strumming guitar in all their recent choruses? Why is the music saying triumph when the song is saying betrayal? Me (stopping the song at 2:50): Why is this song a week long? I almost want to give this song credit for putting me in the skin of someone who has every good reason to cheat if this is their boyfriend, though at this point unless this person is doing an amazing grift I don’t get why they don’t break it off. There’s no thing in here to find likable. Me (refusing to play anymore at 3:21): I love myself too much to continue.
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Scott Mildenhall: The good thing about “Behind the Mask” is that there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that the guy singing it is an arse with a ban from even visiting the moral high ground (and perhaps soon, his addressee). By contrast, the same hectoring appeal for sympathy here is self-pityingly morose, and so that bit more insidious. Still, at least by opening with references to something expensive that will mean nothing to most listeners, and something to do with technology, The Chainsmokers have once again cracked The Modern Condition.
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Ramzi Awn: Sometimes, when you’re very unlucky, everything that’s wrong with American music comes together in a brief but painful three minutes and forty-six seconds. Every tired detail outshines the last on the latest offering from The Chainsmokers and 5 Seconds of Summer. There’s the John Mayer-esque strumming of the guitar. The “oohs” in the sample-heavy, broke down chorus. The shoddy vocal production. And most of all, “Who Do You Love” is an expert lesson in how to sing like a total douche. Five seconds would have been more than enough.  
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Stephen Eisermann: I remember when Penn Badgley had to get on Twitter and remind people that, no, you shouldn’t be obsessed with his character in the show You because he was a stalker/serial killer. It seems that The Chainsmokers and 5 Seconds of Summer didn’t get the memo, because I’m pretty confident that Penn’s character in the show said every one of these lyrics in the show. The man in this song is a crazy person and whoever is dating this dude needs to run, even if this song is kind of a bop.
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Katherine St Asaph: The Chainsmokers, in true frat boy style, are keeping up with country music, and specifically Florida Georgia Line and Maren Morris eyeing their pop-radio turf. That’s undoubtedly why their last track had Kelsea Ballerini, and perhaps why “Who Do You Love” is basically pop country. Weird how their roles are reversed: Kelsea sounded pop-punk, and 5SOS sound bro-country, lumbering among the acoustic lines and bleacher stomps. Bro-country is the closest thing pop music has to power ballads anymore, so if you miss those, this may well be for you. Except that the Chainjokers are still there, with their usual annoyances: the same jackhammering percussion leading up to the drop, the same snippetized vocals — especially bad this time since the human tendency is to fit such things into patterns and the sound pattern here is “blah blah, lookie-lookie-loo.” Also weird: how the Chainsmokers’ move from targeting pop kids to targeting adult contemporary happened so damn fast. Maybe they should rebrand as the Chainjuuls.
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4 Responses to “The Chainsmokers ft. 5 Seconds of Summer – Who Do You Love”

  1. I do have to say, this is the type of song I like to listen to when I eat popcorn chicken and contemplate my surroundings. Boba shop music needs to be an actual genre.

  2. Katherine’s writing is always so good y’all

  3. “Boba shop music” my god, Iris, be careful what you wish for. I can already *hear* this subgenre of muzak.

    also, I’m not going to be able to call them any other names besides Chainjokers/Chainjuuls

  4. more like the chain jokebox

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