Thursday, August 5th, 2021

Tinashe – Bouncin’

We were bouncin’ in our chairs when we wrote this.


Leah Isobel: Tinashe sees herself dancing in a mirror — athletic, capable, self-assured — and then looks past her reflection with a smile to meet our eyes. “Might intimidate ya,” she coos, but not as a means to assert dominance; the line is followed by “Don’t/I’mma see you later.” Maybe RCA didn’t know how to bring out the best in her because she doesn’t work with the triumphal militarism that the industry so often encourages, particularly from artists using pop aesthetics. Even when she dips into slightly harder or more experimental textures, like the clipped and pitched-down vocal samples here, the atmosphere isn’t alienating because she surrounds those ideas with soft synth pads, chewy rubberized bass, and slushy hi-hats. The effect is welcoming and slightly mind-bending, like a dream of a dancefloor. “Bouncin'” asks us to follow her into a fantasy where we can see her body moving and move both in response and in sync; she’s independent, which means she’s with us by choice. When she commands, she also welcomes: “Watch it bouncin’ on the ground/Got my edges sweating out/Turn it up extra loud” becomes “Tonight we steppin’ out/Been a minute since I found/Someone who can hold it down.” It’s the fantasy of perfect reciprocity, where attention and skill and competence are rewarded for what they are, where sexuality doesn’t tip into sexualization, and where the performance of femininity doesn’t cancel out interiority. It sounds like good drugs.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Reliably churning out another jam, Tinashe doesn’t bounce so much as soar. Her voice vacillates between that of a smoldering goddess and a diaphanous siren, each with their own layers of magic, pleasure, and mischief.   

Nortey Dowuona: Tinashe has been consistently great at dancing, singing, songwriting and album rollouts since 2012, and all she’s received for her hard work is complete disrespect and apathy. At this point, the idea of world-conquering stardom has long since passed, it’s now time to settle into her cult and spawn a legion of Nashes. “Bouncin’,” with its searing croons and dry smirks from Nasty Nashe, katana synths, gel blanket keyboards and propulsive bass and shivering, chomping percussion and paper mache snares is the sound of a cult artist reentering themselves and no longer chasing an imaginary audience meant to appear once every last distinguishing feature has been removed or smudged beyond view. Plus, the music video has Nashe literally creating a whole team of dancers with just her hips. It’s brilliant.

Camille Nibungco: A sweet summery song that calls for partners to “match her energy” on the dancefloor that solidifies Tinashe as an contemporary R&B queen in a career upswing. The minimalist thumping bassline and the unexpectedly mesmerizing bleep-y hook that’s nostalgic for early 2000s Y2K R&B artists via Lloyd and Ashanti. The modern twist being Tinashe’s falsetto and flow that levels the track to a post-quarantine dream state. 

Ian Mathers: Sometimes just vibing for three minutes, doing little variations throughout (the falsetto bit, the reverse-Chipmunked bit, the bits where we get a little more focus on the pleasingly aqueous production, the more forthright singing bit) but just vibing, works. There’s nothing wrong with just feeling like one jumbo-sized chorus for the whole duration.

Juana Giaimo: This is fun, I certainly don’t mind listening to it, but I feel many pop songs these days start with a good idea but then they don’t develop it any further. I like the rapped chorus followed by the almost celestial high-pitched vocals, but it feels like a cycle that repeats itself again and again — and the song is only 3 minutes long. The track never changes, so whatever Tinashe does with her voice  always has the some background, blurring the different sections of the song and making it feel like one endless and rather tiring chorus. 

Alfred Soto: Tinashe has a talent for gliding from the recited to the sung that doesn’t call attention to itself in the showbiz way; she’s strong enough a singer and canny enough a performer to understand her limits, sure, but her power too (Amerie comes to mind). Reliant on a string of sibilants and onomatopoetic admissions, “Bouncin'” is the straightforward banger she’s needed in a minute. 

Edward Okulicz: Rather than relying on an aggressive beat, Tinashe’s bounce is controlled, like the first minute or two of a workout warm-up or a cool-down, or the moves of someone so skilled on the floor that she doesn’t have to think too hard. It’s the bounce you do on the spot while planning your next move, planning your attack, anticipating your pleasure. Tinashe’s just as good toughing it out on the chorus as she is inviting you in the verses, landing the hooks with subtlety. The production alternates between pleasurable pulses that make the head bounce more than the feet for me, and then feeling like cool splashes of water to the face. There’s not a lot actually going on in the song, but the mood is perfect, and it puts me in a good mood.

Oliver Maier: Tinashe as a pop singer is not vain about her own voice, and will gladly stay reserved in service of a song. That understatedness is part of her intimate charm, but on “Bouncin'” in particular it also allows her to work in conjunction with the arrangement, rather than over it. “Bouncin’ on the ground” becomes onomatopoeic through repetition, ping-ponging between between regular and shifted pitch. The glossy beat is all synths popping and echoing like squeaking shoes on a basketball court; the bass is near-tangible, whirring up and thudding back to earth. The interplay between performer and instrumental feels as natural as anything. Some tracks on 2019’s Songs For You were hampered by Tinashe’s workmanlike structuring: verse goes here, chorus goes here, verse, chorus, beat switch if we’re feeling adventurous, good job team. The impulse is still present but it comes across better simply because “Bouncin'”‘s immaculate poise is a means to an end, a gradual setting-up for the transcendent stretch from 2:20 to 2:43. It all wraps around to feeling like magic rather than muscle, effort that seems effortless. Perfect pop.

Reader average: [8.87] (8 votes)

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2 Responses to “Tinashe – Bouncin’”

  1. I am… surprised… at this score, I like Tinashe but this beat sounds ripped straight from an Old Navy commercial advertising end of summer sales.

  2. Went to go listen again in the wake of seeing the (not unpleasantly!) surprising average and after a bit away it did sound better than ever, I think I’d go [8] now. Some really great writing here, but I’ll especially be rolling the phrasing “katana synths, gel blanket keyboards” around in my head for a while, it’s so great on a bunch of levels.