He knows how you like it…
Michaelangelo Matos: Funny how some artists come back around to you, in this case a week after singing “Ride Wit Me” at birthday karaoke. (The birthday boy saved my ass. Thanks again, City Spud!) This is mature the way of recent Eminem (and lots of other rappers, Em is just the most visible), meaning it’s really nice that they’re doing well but we’ve grown permanently apart.
Anthony Easton: Pop seems a little ossified in the last couple of years, nothing really new has popped into fashion — so this song, which seems not old fashioned but out of date, is an odd choice for a comeback single.
Martin Skidmore: This has gone top ten in the US, something he needed after five years without a big hit. I’m not sure why, though — the guitar opening sounds unexpected, but it mostly settles into a more predictable R&B production after that, and his performance is unexciting, the usual swaying rapping and lightweight singing. Still, it is a very catchy and punchy chorus, and I was nearly singing along by the time it was through.
John Seroff: When you take a ten pounds of Nelly and mix in a pound of Tom Petty you get… well, you get this. Did anybody order this? Because I’m inclined to send it back.
Katherine St Asaph: Nelly’s comeback is much more plausible in practice than in theory. He slots right into the charts; his soft-rap isn’t all that much removed from B.o.B. or recent Eminem (you can almost lay “Love the Way You Lie” or “Airplanes” over this), while his choruses trail off into Owl City. It’s still an odd single choice, though. Nelly used to sound confident, exuberant. This sounds like he’s already tired, turning in treacly exit music because it’s all he has left in him.
Rodney J. Greene: Of course Nelly’s comeback starts not with a summer-fueled hip-hop single, an undeniable party-starter, or even a sweetheart duet, but with a ballad more faceless than anything he put out the first time around. Any of the former would have been too Nelly for the 2010 public.
Alfred Soto: If I plug my ears, I can block out the overworked backup vocalists. They’re the only pox on a solid Nelly performance, one that takes advantage of his capacity for bruised swagger: the only emotion he can convincingly project. That he knows this — note the lyrical tip of the hat to Usher — is a plus in his favor. So is the plucked guitar.
Chuck Eddy: Rote, but there’s a country grammar to both his Missouri drawl and the strumming behind him that makes me hope a Tim McGraw reunion is on the horizon. Also, it’s sweet that he loved somebody.
Mark Sinker: “Will she come back? No one knows.” No one? How does he know that SHE doesn’t know? The crisp prettiness is Nelly wrapping himself in the self-absorbed enjoyment of his own marzipan sensitivity. She so does know.