Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

Jhené Aiko – Triggered

Song titles for 2019…


Ramzi Awn: Jhené Aiko’s ability to come up with subtle hooks out of thin air is unparalleled, and she has what every artist today would kill for: a signature sound. The opening chords on “Triggered” conjure up “London Bridge,” celebrating Jhene’s love with Big Sean, except now love itself is the trigger. Jhene’s plaintive cry, like a bird on a mountain, searches for new heights. Much like the singer’s career, the single takes its time and delivers authenticity and process like no one else in the business. 

Nortey Dowuona: Prickly, icy piano warbles along as lowered bass drums scrape the bottom of the floe and Jhené gently coos to the healing ice while ain’t shit duuds sink through the ice behind her.

Alfred Soto: The batshit moment occurs when she sings the title hook and the music drops. She must have known her Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder voice requires arrangements to rough it up. But Jhené Aiko’s approach is to conjure the spirit of Minnie Ripperton on material she can’t sing. Better tough sweet nothings than vapid sweet nothings. 

Anjy Ou: A sparse production that gives Aiko space to make a stream-of-consciousness confessional, as if to an answering machine late at night. The first utterance of “muthafucka” is a glint of steel in the murkiness of the more obvious (and expected) loneliness and regret, stopping you from mistaking her vulnerability as weakness. I think it’d stick with me more if there was more tooth in the delivery. As it is, it’s forgotten as soon as it’s over.

Julian Axelrod: Putting out an undercooked slow jam with five different half-hooks and slapping “(freestyle)” after the title is the musical equivalent of a cooking show contestant fucking up their egg dish and calling it a “deconstructed frittata.” And I believe we should hold our R&B singers to at least the same standards as the chefs on Chopped.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Far better than Aiko’s half dozen other freestyles, if only because the awkward and clunky moments are endearing in their presentation of someone trying to process a breakup (also, like, you can imagine Big Sean being the sort of dude to sneer about “triggering” someone). Aiko’s songwriting has always favored atmosphere over anything else, and it’s not too different here — almost-memorable hooks lose their impact in a protracted runtime. For once, though, the meandering is meaningful. That the song ends without a sense of closure or catharsis or anything is appropriate: singing about your blues doesn’t always push them away.

Katherine St Asaph: General songwriting principle: Once the alt-right co-opts a term to mock people, it’s probably a bad idea to write a song around it.

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5 Responses to “Jhené Aiko – Triggered”

  1. @ Alfred “Johnson & Johnson baby powder voice” I am deceased

  2. Very bad hot take at the end there.

  3. no? I also don’t want there to be 100 pop songs called “Cuck”

  4. fwiw I also had an issue with the title. “triggered” in particular has been rendered meaningless enough that most people, even outside the alt-right, use it freely and, yes, mockingly

  5. You can’t just let the alt-right ruin every term they touch, in whatever fashion. Triggered is not a particularly specific term. Jhene isn’t mocking it, of course, she’s speaking honest truths about her feelings, ignoring whatever shame some idiots imply come with the word.

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