Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

Jon Batiste – I Need You

From Colbert to Pixar to the pop charts…


Nortey Dowuona: The soaring piano chords over bass cello strums and bass bubble drums as well as the fuzzy snares and chipped hi-hats make Jon’s keening voice nearly palatable and even exciting — if it didn’t go flat then disappear, with a hobbled clavinet smushed against the left side of the mix, a cut up trumpet popping in and out of existence, and Jon ultimately letting it all pile up and run together.

Samson Savill de Jong: Corporations have ruined this kind of poppy upbeat near-jazz; all I can hear when I listen to this is an advert, probably for a phone, but some kind of holiday company pretending that going on holiday right now is totally fine and there’s no way it could go wrong is perfectly plausible too. It’s not bad, just generic, and I can’t really get into the groove.

Frank Falisi: Things keep happening. All the time! Days keep coming and the things keep happening. And the things that happen warp us in increments. We erode. We come off in flecks. I think this process is manageable only if we remember that in order for this long decay to happen, we have to be alive. If we keep being alive, we are also the things that happen. I treasure Batiste’s triangulation of and need and you because it could reference food or water or rest or contact. Or music. It’s the kind of unspoken contract of music: a song craves ears like a body craves motion. It needs us and the way we move in it, and we need it to keep happening. “I Need You” is a theory of music as joy container, an apparatus that reacts to its abundance or absence. Also, “I Need You” isn’t about anything! It’s just the way we fling and furl. I’m grateful to be able to press play; I’m grateful for the music.

Alfred Soto: It has the gait and exuberance of a Raphael Saadiq genre exercise but with the coercion ramped up to 10.

Juana Giaimo: I like the structure of the song — alternating between loud high-pitched vocals and very deep rapping, all the while a playful piano is in charge of keeping everything lively in the background. Still, it could use a little bit more variation each time a section is repeated — maybe it’s even just a matter of changing the beat a little bit —  or adding something that could bring a little bit more emotion.

Thomas Inskeep: “John Legend doing jump blues” is a) not a phrase I ever expected to need to use, and b) not anything I’ve ever wanted, or will want. Especially when done with contemporary production — a click track, really? Congrats on the Oscar, though; the co-written score to Soul is quite lovely. But this ain’t it.

Ian Mathers: One way pop music can be great is by taking the simple and making it seem operatic, epic, impossible. Another is by making you feel, even if just for three minutes, like life, that incredibly complex, weighty, distressing endeavour we’re all doing our best at, maybe could just be as simple and joyous as a dance.

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