What would she make of the spending review, I wonder…
Alfred Soto: Unsure who told this chick with the charming vocal crinkle she was famous, I listened anyway. The bounce in her step matches the hope in her lyrics; the performance is a worthy heir to early Mariah Carey. If I close my eyes I can pretend this isn’t self-empowerment drivel.
Jer Fairall: Her self-congratulatory I’m-a-survivorisms are actually less annoying in this case for coming from a not-yet-famous source. Not that her relative-newbie status does much to redeem this exhausted diva shtick — I mean, I’m happy she’s happy, but I see no reason why I should care enough to toast to that fact — but we haven’t been given the opportunity to tire of it from her yet.
Chuck Eddy: Oprah-level self-actualization, with a Zinfandel-after-Mom’s-hard-day melody, a bit of meaningless melisma, some momentarily interesting clanking at the beginning, and no lyric specifics to speak of — unless “it is what it is” counts.
Asher Steinberg: Poor Chrisette, prisoner of her generation’s lexicon. In one song she pronounces that she’s “gon’ keep it one hundred,” going to “do me,” states that “it’s as real as it really gets” and “it is what it is,” and wonders “what’s it gonna be?” Had she recorded back in the day of the Ellas and Billies she desperately imitates, she’d have been given some nice words to sing and might well have had a reasonably strong career. That said, the lyrical bankruptcy of her collaborators (Ne-Yo, I believe) could be forgiven if this triumph-against-the-odds tune were stronger on either the odds that were overcome or the triumph (see “I Believe I Can Fly” for an example of the dramatic highs and lows a song of this sort ought to have). Cool chimes though.
Anthony Easton: Shocking in how dull and uncharismatic it is — you would think that a song that is all about how she cannot touch the ground would not be so prosaically earthbound.
Katherine St Asaph: With a title like “I’m a Star” you could go the Prince route or the Funny Girl route, both of which simmer in star power. But no, Chrisette’s made herself a literal star, the kind that sits pretty up in the stratosphere and shines on occasion but otherwise does absolutely nothing.
John Seroff: Opening sounds lifted from “You Ain’t No DJ”, general melody is standard Alicia fare with certain nods to “Unthinkable”. Not much under the glitter.
Mallory O’Donnell: The melody is so stale it’s grown mold, but the production is something a little more interesting. The only problem is that the lovely steel bell wind chime drum things percolating away in the background like a steam-driven gamelan ensemble are coming so incandescently in and out of Chrisette’s vocal range that they actually interfere with clear audition of either.
Michaelangelo Matos: Verses and chorus are tensile percussion track with melodic add-ons in addition to Michele’s appealingly raw voice; one thing I like about the vocal is that she sounds progressively rawer as it goes on, which feels very real-time.
Doug Robertson: The clanking, cutlery drawer rhythm that runs throughout this track makes it sound a lot more interesting than the reality, but does at least provide a touch of personality to what is otherwise a pretty faceless slice of paint-by-numbers empowered R&B.
Martin Skidmore: The last time we covered her here, I gave it a 10, and I still totally love “Blame It On Me”. This is disappointing in comparison. Her voice is still lovely, though jumping to high notes in distracting ways at times here. I still think Chrisette is as great a singing talent as we’ve heard in years, but this is kind of lightweight.
Tyrone Palmer: There is no progression in his sound here — within the first few bars you can instantly tell the song is written by Ne-Yo. While that trademark sound may have been great in 2006, 4 years later it’s tiresome. Ne-Yo may have helped Michele find her voice last go-around, but this time she’d be better suited to go in the direction of her recent collaborations with Rick Ross. She is pitch-perfect on the chorus to “Aston Martin Music”, with the futuristic quiet-storm vibe of Justice League’s production complimenting her voice perfectly. Come to think of it, most of her greatest moments so far have been on the hooks to rap songs — something about her tone of her voice and style of singing translates well to harder production.
Josh Langhoff: Sounds better every time I listen, because “I’m up in the sky tonight” keeps sounding sadder, lonelier. Chrisette reveals how emotional desperation can drive self-empowerment as subtly as did “Irreplaceable”, as abruptly as “What’s cooler than being cool? ICE COLD!” Of course if you tell someone “I’m not thinkin’ ‘bout you”, YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT THEM, pink elephants and whatnot; but I’m even more impressed that she’s ostensibly putting her chorus into some sad sister’s mouth (“Tell ‘em…”) — she’s afraid we’ll figure her out, so she builds barrier after barrier between us and the catharsis she can’t allow. Her voice puts it over with a lovely arsenal of cracks and hiccups; despite the best efforts of the bridge to smooth everything over, the whole effect remains as delicate as Chuck Harmony’s gamelan production.
Zach Lyon: I think the problem (as opposed to, say, Pink’s “So What”) is that this isn’t framed as a song about getting over a relationship by taking pride in her independent accomplishments, it’s a song about how her independent accomplishments mainly serve the goal of getting over her relationship. And while it’s unfair to compare this to “So What” (one of my favorite songs of the past few years), it’s disappointing to see all this pride aimed at emotional revenge over an insignificant ex. You’re famous now, or at least in the Hot 100; you’re allowed to define your happiness on its own terms. Fortunately, I have trouble listening to the beat without thinking of Chilly Down from The Labyrinth.