Thursday, April 21st, 2011

K Michelle – How Many Times

Lex don’t come around much anymore, but never mind…


Michaelangelo Matos: “Sister Mary (‘Real Love’!)/She used to tell us in the ’90s”: K Michelle is nothing if not up-front about the anxiety of influence. For her, it seems that Blige-style self-dramatization is a natural starting point rather than the culmination of a successful rebranding of yourself as lifestyle guru. As, it seems, is the leather-lunged post-Whitney-then-Mariah vocal belt. Maybe it’s because those tics are so ingrained that Michelle is so utterly believable: “Taking out my anger on any and everybody that comes around,” ouch. My own fault that I didn’t trust Lex on this one earlier.

Martin Skidmore: I totally love her. She’s a genuinely powerful soul singer, her voice carrying a ton of emotion, and the production on this is sharp and demanding. It doesn’t have the almost unbearable emotional impact on me of “Just Can’t Do This”, but if that makes this less magnificent, it also means it is easier to listen to.

Anthony Easton: The quick punching percussion emphasizes the point in quite a literal fashion, but one does not expect subtlety in this kind of hand wringing and hair pulling. Fantastic.

Alfred Soto: A stutter and a demonstration of vocal prowess powerful enough to strip the paint off a skyscraper, and, damn, if Michelle doesn’t want you to know it. Many times.

Katherine St Asaph: K Michelle forever proves she can sing a damn good C. Then proves it again and again.

Chuck Eddy: Most of this song almost strikes me as a fugue or something, repeating the same motif over and over ad infinitum, without a discernible beginning or end. I mean, how many times does she say “how many times”? I lost count. Could go on forever, and when it’s playing it seems like it does, though it only lasts four minutes. Also, I’m not sure what “the moral of the story is,” because K never tells us. Matter of fact, she never tells us the story, either — just suggests she got cheated on, and skips any potentially compelling details.

Zach Lyon: Not going to fool myself into falling for the content here — this is 10% breakup whatever, 90% show-your-goddamn-peacock-feathers. Which isn’t to say the content isn’t worthy, and with a worse singer it might actually take the spotlight (I specifically love: when the beat drops out in the chorus and comes right back in, a clever little reflection of the lyric; the entire verse about sister Mary; “This song know how I feel”; the glorious interplay between the piano and strings) and that wouldn’t be a terrible song. But this is all about 2:11 – 2:23, wrestling with and dominating the spotlight in a stranglehold, instilling enough faith in your audience that your next eight singles, at least, will be worth trying out. That moment of diva indulgence sounds like it could only be encouraged by R. Kelly (this is the first song of hers I’ve heard, so I don’t know what is and isn’t her MO) but it makes me glad to know K. Michelle is around, because there isn’t nearly enough of it right now.

8 Responses to “K Michelle – How Many Times”

  1. proves she can sing a damn good C. Then proves it again and again

    Yeah, I said basically the same thing in the part of my review that was edited out — I hear no nuance in her singing here at all. It’s just yell yell yell. I don’t buy the emotion because it’s all one note.

  2. I don’t exactly get that. Why can’t she be feeling the same emotion for four minutes, as signified by the same note? Similarly, isn’t the repetition of “how many times” the whole point, i.e., that it was a LOT of times? I mean, it makes for lousy songwriting but I don’t see how it prevents you from buying the emotion.

  3. That’d be a cool conceptual trick, but in practice it still results in singing the same note about 25 times, with rapidly diminishing returns — each individual time is downright virtuosic, but it just. keeps. happening.

  4. Was just going to mention how strange it is that Lex hasn’t been blurbing… seems like there have been a dozen artists in his personal canon lately.

  5. Yes I know, I’ve been too snowed under lately to even keep up with what’s available for blurbing until after they’ve been published. Don’t even have the leftover brainpower to comment. This won’t be changing in the foreseeable future :(

  6. (I would have given this a 9, really wanted to blurb it, THERE ARE NO MORE WORDS IN MY BRAIN AT THE MOMENT THOUGH.)

  7. Like I said, it makes for awful songwriting, it just doesn’t cause me to not buy what she’s saying. Then again, maybe it does, it’s hard to take her heartbreak too seriously when she just sounds like she’s showing off that she can sing.

  8. Exactly. You just answered your own question It sounds like an athletic exercise, not an emotional outburst.