Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Zedd & Kehlani – Good Thing

Controversial Thing


Natasha Genet Avery: So many independent woman bops are directed at the naysayers: the ex who didn’t value you, the world that tried to box you in. What makes “Good Thing” such a triumph–in addition to Zedd’s ebullient production and Kehlani’s laidback vocals–is that it doesn’t come from a place of pain. “Good Thing” stays modest, grounded:it’s not called “Great Thing,” after all. Kehlani oozes confidence without performing that confidence (“I buy myself fast cars/ just so I can drive them real fucking slow”). And unlike many empowerment songs, she’s even willing to acknowledge a shortcoming (she’s not too good for dating, she’s just “bad at relationships”). Sometimes the best flex is no flex at all.

Nicholas Donohoue: Zedd has always been technically worth talking about. If I were a high school music appreciation teacher, he would easily be my go-to for a modern artist’s uses of signatures, motifs, and base elemental analysis. However, that Zedd-sound easily makes for real tedium, to a point that he made me stop to laugh at how ham-fisted and unmotivated a key change he employed, except that’s where you’re suppose to put a key change in theory. Kehlani remains one of the hardest working singers given thankless work and we will never give her enough kudos, but even she can only do so much to make living in luxury and being a bit of a jerk about it interesting with this lounge singer lite, Music Theory III backing.

Thomas Inskeep: Plus: it’s not Zedd’s usual semi-pneumatic EDM/pop. Minus: it just slogs along, and Kehlani does nothing to help it, phoning in her vocals. I’d say this puts the “middling” in mid-tempo, but it doesn’t even rise to middling.  

Alfred Soto: A performer who projects empathy without effort, Kehlani has never met a producer who records tracks as wanly kinetic as Zedd. 

Andy Hutchins: Is Kehlani the first collaborator on a Zedd single whose style is potent enough to eclipse Zedd entirely? Ariana dueled him into the stratosphere, sure, but she and every other featured artist have been operating on Zedd’s turf, and so he’s rarely gone beyond his comfort zone. Yet I would never clock this as a Zedd single without the actual credit, and he’s stunningly, wonderfully subdued here, creating something lush without his usual maximalism and even taking the care to throw in that delicate music-box filigree in the last bar of the hook; Kehlani is at home, sonically, and luxuriating as a result. Ironic as it is for a song that grants one of the stronger vocalists and stylists in pop&B space to confidently assert on multiple levels that being on one’s own doesn’t mean being isolated or alone, this is a damn good argument for collaboration’s potential to make magic.

Edward Okulicz: Hey, did Zedd decide that even his most gaudy blocks of solid music couldn’t overwhelm Kehlani, or did someone give him a copy of Musical Restraint for Dummies? Either way, this is one of his best recent songs, and Kehlani projects strong character on it. I especially like how the slightly rueful-sounding pre-chorus is just an afterthought immediately after it’s over because of how confident the actual chorus is. 

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One Response to “Zedd & Kehlani – Good Thing”

  1. Nicholas I am very glad you addressed that travesty of a key change