He, of course, has always known what you like…
Michaelangelo Matos: He’s my favorite because he likes everyday detail, but here he announces his escapist intent right off the bat, and what do you know: he’s good at it. Though in this case it seems like the track is carrying the song rather than the other way around.
Alfred Soto: I’d rather the strings carried the burden of the melody instead of Ne’s vocals, but the hook is nothing to speak of anyway.
Al Shipley: It’s probably not all that rare for a single artist’s output to drop so drastically from the heights of “Closer” and “Miss Independent” in one album cycle to shit like this and “Beautiful Monster” in the next. But it usually doesn’t happen to someone who writes his own material and generally seems to have good taste. What happened to Ne-Yo?
Rodney J. Greene: It may not be the culmination of all things Ne-Yo, but he sounds absolutely giddy here, against a background as dizzy and fizzy as the title would imply. The only thing tethering the constant ascent of the strings is that cracking snare. There’s a palpable sense of opportunity about the whole thing that is contagious, as if this is barely the start, a remarkable outlook for an artist on his fourth album who may have already peaked. Screw Ke$ha, this is what makes me feel like P. Diddy.
Chuck Eddy: Less gorgeous than his single norm, but gorgeous enough, and he even makes tiny bubble sounds with his mouth, to match the bubbly. So, pleasingly opulent, as far as the sound goes. Still docked a point, though, because bragging about being rich during this recession is really gross. Especially when the odds favor his tax cut being extended.
Martin Skidmore: If you want a heir to Michael Jackson, you could do far worse than Ne-Yo. This doesn’t strike me as one of his strongest songs, and the production is smooth but uninteresting. Nonetheless, his singing is immensely effective, and there is a sunny positivity to this that is hard to resist.
John Seroff: If Michael had made it through the This Is It tour, one assumes he would’ve bought “Champagne Life” for his inevitable brand relaunch album. Is it heretical to suggest that very late era MJ might not have given us as nice a rendition as Ne-Yo does here? My only major quibble is with Ne-Yo’s incessant and unnecessary nattering; someone should tell Mr. GQ that being the hype man on your own track is hella gauche. Even so, “Champagne” is a light, sweet, sparkling, purely enjoyable late Summer vintage, miles ahead of “Beautiful Monster”.
Katherine St Asaph: I’m a bit stunned the Libra Scale singles aren’t crossing over more, but if “Beautiful Monster” didn’t blow up (at least not here), this probably won’t do it either. It’s too restrained, content to drift along on its steady beat. A shame; Ne-Yo’s in fine vocal form as usual, and the shifting chords here are gorgeous. Let’s see this prove me wrong.