It’s “people who know Beyonce Knowles” Monday!
Jonathan Bogart: You know, I actually really adore the fact that Solange is a fashion/arts/indie darling. She can’t sing or dance as well as her empire-building big sister, but she doesn’t need to: she’ll die rich, like every Knowles, and if she’s the pop-music version of the trustafarians with hedge-fund parents, she’s at least figured out how to package and sell the one thing she does have, her taste. “Losing You” is less a great pop song (that’s B’s turf) than a great collection of signifiers, from the aesthetics-of-poverty video to the carefully-curated sonics that make up the beat, and the fashion/arts/indie wing of music appreciation has gone predictably (and appropriately) apeshit over it. If I’m less enthusiastic, it’s because I’m more interested in personalities than in taste, and Solange keeps herself at a steadfast remove.
Katherine St Asaph: This is pretty great, and not for the reasons anyone’s saying. It’s not great because Solange sounds better or worse or different than Beyonce — on the verses, her timbre’s so close to her sister’s she might as well have joined Destiny’s Child when that was an option. It’s not great, nor really worse, for the rudimentary melody — that’s just part of the groove, as stalled as the relationship, and Solange pulls at it where she can. It’s certainly not because Solange is “the sister with taste,” and fuck that meme to the gutter; remember, the consensus on 4 was that it was “too tasteful,” which applies even when said taste looks like an R&B collection and not a Pinterest frock board. It’s the same reason Dev Hynes’ last track worked so well: the arrangement is busy and bursting, the emotions frosted over. Some call that disinterest; I call it sangfroid.
Anthony Easton: In a counter-factual world where Solange wins over Beyonce in the Pop Star sweepstakes, we get this kind of trans-global, South-African, pop for pop’s sake genius; it’s the kind of experimental energy that works as an off-brand that Beyonce can fully pillage, make mainstream, and spread. Think of Solange as the couture to Beyonce’s ready-to-wear.
Alfred Soto: Steady, straightforward disco-inflected tracks like “Losing You” are my weakness, and usually singers aren’t up to them. Thank Solange for her steady, straightforward emoting, thank her producers for the “Twin Peaks”-evoking synth line, the sampled scream, the guitar lick.
Al Shipley: Once you’ve found the synth patch from that Cyndi Lauper b-side, there’s no use in writing an actual song to it, at least if you’re Haylie Duff.
Patrick St. Michel: Whoa, Dev Hynes is on fire right now. “Losing You” follows up the equally excellent “Everything Is Embarrassing,” and Hynes follows the blueprint that made Sky Ferreira’s last single so captivating for Solange’s newest. It’s a minimalist track with dance in its DNA, except the music always holds something back, giving Solange plenty of space to wax dejected. Hynes doesn’t simply replicate “Everything Is Embarrassing” – the hand claps and twisted bird squawks (?) moving along with the song are a nice touch – but “Losing You” sounds like a producer taking a good idea and running with it. And as long as he’s working with singers like Ferreira or Solange, both of whom can deliver lovely verses dripping with frustration, he should milk this sad-dance sound, because it is the perfect compliment to them.
Iain Forrester: Nothing is embarrassing. How could it be when it’s all so soft that most of it doesn’t stick? Points for the loop and the submerged section that gives a chance for Solange’s performance to shine.
Alex Ostroff: Not quite as immediately ingratiatingly anthemic as Sky’s take on this sound, but “Losing You” has seeped its way into my subconscious, comfortable and familiar and sad. The busy bouncy squawking production is vital to the success of the song, but when it drops out for thirty seconds, I’m underwater listening to Solange sing with clarity and authority, and there’s a real moment. And then on the fourth or sixth listen, I finally noticed her harmonies and playful adlibs (c. 3:00-3:40) and I fell in love. Even if she’s moved away from sandcastle discos and Motown vibes, Solange’s pop instincts are as keen as they ever were.
Will Adams: The verses are mushmouthed and have barely enough time to sink in, but it’s only appropriate, because “Losing You” turns entirely on the chorus’ central question: “Am I losing you for good?” Solange may as well be reading from a phonebook, but she keeps returning to the question. It’s a soul-crushing desperation so strong that not even the clattering party noise in the background can distract her.
Josh Langhoff: Synth wash reminds me of “Streets of Philadelphia,” looped shrieks sound like “It Takes Two” only more off-kilter, multitracked vocals could be Prince in simple-melody mode, and this is just really close to perfect, isn’t it?
Brad Shoup: For years, friends would talk about the awesome shit Solange was up to, and I would always think “Hey, good for her.” Turns out Solange was the name of a mutual acquaintance. So now that I know of Ms. Knowles as a singer and not a puppeteer, I’m pretty pleased. I use this term a lot, but there’s something devotional in the deliberately-paced melody and the chasmic low-end synths. The line about kissing all night is unnecessary self-censorship; I don’t believe any of it unless we’re talking junior high. It’s modest, steady: instant nostalgia until that gloomy concluding chord.