Yes, we do go on about her a bit.
Michaela Drapes: I kind of love how this song is trying to be all things to all people; like the other hybrid pop/hip-hop songs on Pink Friday, it’s a ready-made mashup: an updated take on “Cars That Go Boom” meets a crushing crystalline chorus beloved of pop starlets. I’m still not sure that the bridge works, but it’ll sound great as the buildup in the club mix. Or, you know, whatever, just post a viral video of yourself dancing around your bedroom ASAP, singing “boom ba boom ba boom boom bass” into a giant pink hairbrush. That’s the spirit!
Mallory O’Donnell: This would have gotten at least another point or two if it had been called “Super Treble.”
Pete Baran: Having come late to the Nicki Minaj party I’m never quite sure when I am supposed to be recognising awesome flow, comedy accents and wittily filthy rhymes, when actually half the time she is often the dullest thing on her own record. And sorry Nicki, that’s the case here. But then it is quite a good track: the warm electropoppery that takes over when the chorus kicks in is what makes this a properly fun pop record. Nicki doesn’t make the track any worse, and carries us to the chorus competently, but she is a passenger on her own track here.
Alex Ostroff: This is the kind of pop song Nicki should be making all the time. Pink Friday as released was a handful of rappity-rap songs, and a lot of cookie-cutter Autotune ballads, which proceeded to shoot up the charts. ‘Super Bass’, relegated to the bonus tracks, outshines every track on the actual album. Nicki deploys double-time rapping and her trademark accents sparingly, keeping things interesting but not obnoxious. Her enthusiasm and personality shine through, and for the first time since Roman’s Revenge or Monster she sounds like she’s genuinely having fun rapping. Ester Dean’s chorus is custom-made for summer, and the production has a lightness of touch that suits the material. The awkwardly sung bridge drags the momentum and holds it back from perfection, but ‘Super Bass’ is a renewal of Nicki’s early promise, and a sign that she’s still a talent to keep your eye on.
Jonathan Bogart: The bubbly chorus, bubblegum dancehall that yearns more than finds resolution, is what sells it. It’s not often that Nicki Minaj is upstaged by a singer, but her pattery verses amount to an entertaining way to pass the time before Ester Dean comes back with the sugar-rush. If she could make an entire album like this, she’d achieve the greatness she’s perpetually on the brink of.
Alfred Soto: Look at that: Minaj beats Ke$ha at her own game. The “boom badoom boom” hook is what I want from a summer single.
B Michael Payne: The song rattles a lot less than I’d expected. I can’t help but try to track down fairly literally the symbolic order of songs like this. It’s for the guys with good sound systems in their cars, which helps them hear the booming bass of the song, which is also the way Nicki’s heart booms when the guys are near. That’s incredibly sweet to me. This is a sweet song, and it showcases Minaj’s strengths. I still wish it had more bass.
Edward Okulicz: A summer jam, but not just that; this is a jam for any time of year, any positive emotion or any activity you can imagine. Love? Lust? Bliss? Yes. Dancing? Rollerskating? Beach? Driving with the top down? Hell yes. Nicki’s outsize personality comes out to play on something fun, poppy and commercial that still plays to her strengths and her wit.
Zach Lyon: Is the world really so desperate for a great Nicki single that a song like “Super Bass” — consisting only of a decently catchy chorus she had nothing to do with — gets built up as the great pink hope?
Asher Steinberg: Leaving the hook aside for a minute, I suppose it’s unfair to hold Nicki’s tendency to lapse into really traditional heterosexual narratives against her. Nothing requires her to be the standard-bearer for gender role bending; nothing says she can’t try to be the mildly racy 2011 equivalent of the Chiffons. The trouble is that she’s just no good at it. To pull off something like “He’s So Fine,” one needs to actually sound attracted. Nikki, notably, isn’t capable of doing the song without framing it in some odd fictive world in which she’s an English girl who has a “thing for American guys,” as if she can’t even rap about liking guys of her own nationality without employing a Brechtian distancing device. As for the hook, it continues pop’s dully self-reflexive trend, pioneered by Britney, of likening throbbing hearts to musical instruments. A comment on the history of the trend: decades ago, rappers started rapping about the aphrodisiac powers of 808 drums, or the ascetic virtues of their DJ’s record-scratching. When rappers did that, it wasn’t this cute self-reflexive reference to the means of their music’s production; rather, like classic rock homages to guitars, rapping about 808s or scratching was a way of talking about the cultural history of those instruments, and about the values they embodied. But when a Britney, or a Nicki Minaj, neither of whom have ever touched an 808 or bass synth, liken their beating hearts to bass, they trivialize the sentiments their similes supposedly are meant to evoke, in the same way that locating every song in the club saps the sentiments contained in those songs of any ramifications outside of the club. Both implicitly send the message that a song is “just music,” in the same stupid sense that defenders of a bad film say it’s “just a movie.” But whereas Britney’s 808 talk is ultimately tragic – “I am reduced to a digital mimesis of myself, even my passions are programmed” – Nikki’s is an admission that her song is just a bass delivery device.
Isabel Cole: I don’t know if it’s because I watched Grease like six million times as a child but if a substantial portion of a song is made of repeated nonsense syllables I am about 60% of the way to sold. On the topic of guilty pleasures with undeniable gender issues, I have tried to come up with a way to describe what it is that Nicki is doing here that appeals to me so much that is less problematic than “girling out all over the place,” but to no avail. It may be “for the boys,” an ode to their irresistible attributes (of this one guy and of Dudes as a class, a vacillation familiar to anyone who’s sighed how much she hates/loves/hates how much she loves it when guys [wear polos/can dance/lean real good] by way of introducing her latest obsession) (that would be me) (in case you were wondering), but it’s a girls’ conversation. She recounts her flirtations with a giddiness that slides into frustration at his failure to recognize who the eff she is, capturing that crush-defining mix of thrill and increasingly desperate hunger. I feel like Nicki and I could commiserate, in whispers and groans, over how does he not hear our heart going boom-badoom-boom-boom and why are boys so clueless, it is so unfair when they just gotta give us that look and then the panties coming off, unghhh. Hey — there are worse things we could do.