Monday, November 5th, 2012

Labrinth ft. Emeli Sandé – Beneath Your Beautiful

Heretofore to be known as Labrinthe Melisande…


Katherine St Asaph: Labrinth was sad. His tears fell like drops. He’d known clubs, he thought, but he’d never known love. So he consulted Mike Posner, whom he’d met through Cher Lloyd at a party so sketchy she’d never again put dub on the track, and asked his advice; after all, “Cooler Than Me” got him laid. (Somehow.) Posner suggested innuendo, self-deprecating negging and a labored leer, like singing while simultaneously trying to huff the perfume out of a girl’s hair. After a dreary afternoon bonding over Duke, MRA videos and lists of slang like “feels,” they’d written the topline. Now Labrinth needed a track. He consulted Emeli Sande, someone for whom “was sad” is a pointless descriptor, and it turned out she just happened to have some strings musting around. Neither found a little wobbly corruption or resemblance to Enrique’s “Hero” to be imperfections, nor was Emeli’s insistence on mentioning Broadway offputting. They made music, so much fucking unending music. They swept the British charts (for it is in London that our scene lies). They inspired so much ill-advised doffing of clothes, so many wheezed serenades. Perhaps they even inspired love; yet, alas, Labrinth remained sad.

Alfred Soto: When guys demand pussy while a string quartet gets all James Horner, well, there’s no accounting for taste. Treating double entendres like single ones gives this track its frisson. I’ll have to take Emeli Sandé’s word for it that “take it off now, boy” refers to peering into his beautiful soul instead of at Labrinth’s beautiful cock. The rest of us might take up their offer and jump out of that ivory tower.

Erick Bieritz: Both of these singers have proven themselves on hectic corkers, but Sandé’s album was soggy under the weight of her ballads and this collaboration isn’t any better. A heavier beat and the faintest bass wobble provide some hope at the 90-second mark, but quickly give way to those somber string arrangements. I hate those strings.

Patrick St. Michel: There are some interesting details lurking in this song, like the pulsing electronics that come in at the same time as the drums, but it sounds like they walked in on the wrong song and bolted as soon as they realized it was a smarmy, awkwardly phrased ballad.

Edward Okulicz: Labrinth’s first verse is a mess of tepid Gary Barlowisms croaked with pure emotion, if you consider constipation an emotion. Sandé’s riposte, bathed in clunky drums, is oversung to the point of exacerbating, not ameliorating, its banality. That in the video they perform in front of screens of each other is appropriate, as “Beneath Your Beautiful” is as felt as a glib greeting card taped onto a bouquet of rotting flowers.

Jonathan Bogart: Schlock in the best, most useful sense: a utilitarian soundtrack to all kinds of socially-approved sentimental occasions, with enough personality and attention to detail that individual listeners can almost imagine themselves feeling congruent emotions.

Brad Shoup: It’s like graduation music for sociopath school. Hearing Labrinth and Sandé size up their quarry in stereo suggests a Disney Channel adaptation of Cruel Intentions. God, these charts are filled with people — objects and subjects — who should seek psychiatric help before future romantic entanglement. 

Will Adams: I don’t consider myself a stickler on grammar. However, using adjectives as nouns is a real pet peeve of mine, to the point where its use on “Beneath Your Beautiful” makes Labrinth’s screeched high notes, the near-comical strings and the creepy conceit seem like minor infractions.

Iain Mew: Both singers are over-exposed, but their combination in duet does serve one useful purpose. The contrasting approaches of Labrinth’s wounded straining and Emeli’s professionalism both sound equally awful, proving that the fault is with the writing and the gloopy arrangement. And such a lot of fault. There are muddled metaphors all over the place; is he climbing up an ivory tower, or getting under her barriers? Then “See beneath your beautiful”/”see beneath your perfect”/”I want to see inside” is really gross in the song’s context, where he/she doesn’t even really know this person that well but is straight out demanding extreme emotional intimacy, as well as the physical implications, yet it’s played as if it’s a beautiful sentiment. Finally, there’s the dissonance of simultaneously hearing the title phrase as its more conventionally grammatical “you’re” sound alike, which is doubtless deliberate and meant to be clever but is confusing and awful writing. Maybe writers Labrinth/Sandé/MIKE POSNER might enjoy this mangled coinage: their song makes me feel (sic).

3 Responses to “Labrinth ft. Emeli Sandé – Beneath Your Beautiful”

  1. true story: I wrote the entire blurb without even knowing Posner actually cowrote the thing; this had just reminded me of him. And then I looked up the credits and boggled.


  2. That’s impressive! I didn’t think of anyone else but Labrinthe Melisande until I looked at the credits. The Sheeran written song we’ll get to soon is a bit more obviously his work.

  3. I retroactively subtract five points from my score now that I know Posner was involved.