Future finally responds to Nelly Furtado…
Jonathan Bogart: No song has snuck up on me — and, apparently, the country — this year like “Turn On the Lights.” People were rhapsodizing about Pluto, but I didn’t hear much out of the ordinary until some fellow Jukeboxers recommended “Turn On the Lights” specifically. Even then, it didn’t seem to build particularly on what Wayne and Pain had done in 2008. I shrugged my shoulders… but I kept listening. And now it’s a big hit, and Wayne’s on the remix, and I feel like nestling into that exhausted electronic moan.
Al Shipley: It’s unfortunate, though illuminating, for the official remix to feature Lil Wayne, since the best thing about Future’s Auto-Tune rap ballads is that they offer such a distinct new take on the form from the Wayne model that dominated radio a few years ago. Future’s not as weird or unique as he or some of his boosters think, though — after all, saying he’s on Pluto is only worlds away from Wayne being a Martian in the most literal sense.
Jonathan Bradley: Future is far from the first artist to use Auto-Tune to make his voice weird instead of tuneful, but few have married so successfully the effect’s discombobulating qualities with its mellifluous ones. The synth pings and burbles shimmer around the sing-rapping like a kaleidoscope and the space imagery, for once, evokes 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s stargate sequence as much as it does weightlessness.
Michelle Myers: Future does not blur the distinction between singing and rapping, he renders it irrelevant. His voice cracks and fries under a thick layer of autotune in verses so loose and disorganized they feel like ephemeral transitions between choruses. Lyrically, Future blends high-stakes themes with goofy imagery. The song’s strongest line, “and if you see her ‘fore I do, tell her I wish that I met her” is rap game analogue to Carly Rae’s “before you came into my life I miss you so bad.” Future takes musical risks and has a sense of humor, which has prompted some to mislabel him as another “ignorant” Atlanta swag rapper. This is a sensitive, earnest song about the universal desire to love and be loved, and it happens to contain the best use of the word “medallions” I’ve heard all year.
Anthony Easton: The section around 54 seconds is just gorgeous, and how the bass drums drop in around 1:25 are almost biological; I also love his voice, the whole track is on the verge of genuine tears. The work shows potential, and I want to hear more.
Patrick St. Michel: There are two ways to go about the buzzing, electronics-choked pop song. One either has to give themselves over to technology completely and create music so flawless, so overproduced in the best sense of the word, that the factory-finish of the song is irresistible. The other route is to juxtapose something achingly human with the robo sounds. Future pulls off the latter on “Turn On The Lights,” refusing to just rap and instead sing several lines of the song with dramatic flair. He does this despite boasting a gravely voice that, over nearly any other track, would be a deal breaker, especially when his voice cracks delivering the titular line. Over the blinking production of “Turn On The Lights,” though, that bellow sounds like a human breaking out of some digital prison, Future reaffirming his humanity with every ugly high note.
Brad Shoup: Sure, he’s turned the decibel dial. That’s appreciated. But the stress of the EveryGirl vetting process shows in his pipes. The synths pan between channels, forming an ever-crumbling baroque melody, and maybe even a comic Greek chorus.
Alfred Soto: As the synths glimmer like fluorescent lights on puddles, Future delivers a choked monologue that’s actually more moving Auto-Tuned, although it would be compelling sung straight. If Diddy has a sequel to Last Train to Paris in mind, he should hire this dude.