Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Toni Braxton – Do It

Now do it again.


Nina Lea: Immediately before listening to this track, I’d written a review for the also-R&B, identically-titled track “Do It” by Chloe x Halle. And while I tried my very best to listen to this “Do It” on its own merits, the differences are astounding. Chloe x Halle’s “Do It” sparkles with newness; Toni’s “Do It” sounds dated, like it could have played on the Adult R&B radio 10 or 15 years ago. I kept waiting for Toni to take it somewhere, but she never did. Despite singing lyrics that lament a man who “ain’t gonna change… it’s gonna be the same,” Toni has changed very little herself.

Tobi Tella: The musical equivalent of treading water. She sounds nice, those piano chords sure are plunking away, and there’s something hinting at lyrical depth, but I can’t bring myself to care. 

Alfred Soto: Six years after a comeback, the Queen of Hearts can’t stop playing the supplicant; she dwells in the land of rue and anxiety. “Do It” unfolds as a monologue in which she admits to suffering exquisitely, not by an errant lover so much as herself. You think Conor Oberst and Perfume Genius would writhe like this for 27 more years?

Nortey Dowuona: A limping piano follows Toni’s husky, hewn voice as she laments the gasping bass and halting percussion lying arm in arm on the floor of her smashed living room. Then kicks enter and start helping both of them up and sitting them down with sparkles sweeping in with synth strings to patch them up. The snare fixes up the room as Toni makes the bass and percussion tea, and the kicks, synth strings and sparkles sit down as well.

Tim de Reuse: The lyrics are direct and uncomplicated, which is a point in the tune’s favor, I think; the “Do what you need to do” pops because nothing is spoken about through allegory or metaphor. The impact is lessened by the overbearing instrumentation, which muddies up all the detail in Braxton’s performance with numb reverb, wind chimes, and flavorless synths.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: No one in the midst of recording this Emotional Power Ballad™ thought to tell Toni Braxton that this beat sounds like tongue pops? 

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