Monday, July 20th, 2020

Kelsea Ballerini ft. Halsey – The Other Girl

From a table away…


[Video]
[4.33]

Kayla Beardslee: Kelsea Ballerini’s new album can be arranged into two halves. In one half are the slower, less interesting songs, many with lyrics too focused on categorization (whoops) or playing into tropes, in the other are the upbeat tracks that generally have more introspective and interesting lyrical themes. Unfortunately, “The Other Girl” falls into the former category: its premise of blurring the lines between “girlfriend” and “mistress” is decent, but too easy to poke holes in. If the guy is messing around with both women, then the contest over who he cares for more has no actual value, and, of course, Kelsea starts the song with a judgmental verse that ends with “I bet she’s more promiscuous than I,” while Halsey chimes in on the awkwardly conciliatory second verse, the structure privileging one girl’s viewpoint over the other rather than being completely fair. And speaking of unfair, I suppose I could try harder to like this song, but the music itself is just too dull. May I recommend “Hole in the Bottle” or “The Way I Used To” instead?
[4]

Katherine St Asaph: Kelsea Ballerini is the latest female country artist to flee the tomato trap that is country radio in hopes of finding airplay, or maybe just stray streams, in mainstream pop. But “The Other Girl” isn’t a massive pop alpha-strike like “The Middle” but something softer and subtler. There’s plenty lovely: the muted guitars, the high pealing synths, that part after the chorus where Kelsea and Halsey echo “girl,” their timbres similar but, like the romantic rivals they play, just different enough to count. There’s a little Lana Del Rey — the lilting intonation on the post-chorus is so similar it’s uncanny — and more than a little “Girl Crush,” in how Kelsea and Halsey’s verses don’t sound jealous so much as scoping one another out. What’s especially weird is that this is a pop song at all — it’s written by Shane McAnally, whose range is broad but almost entirely in country, and Ross Copperman, best known for sensitive-dude love songs, bro-downs like “Tip It On Back” and “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16,” and on the female side, “Female.” “The Other Girl” is a world apart from them, or for that matter Ballerini’s “Legends” or “I Hate Love Songs”; the only person you’d expect to have this in them is Halsey. How many features is it now that she’s been the best part of?
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: Ballerini bends away from country and towards Halsey, which ill suits this song. “The Other Girl” has a strong concept, but one that depends on tension between its leads — not because they should be at odds, but because it might sharpen their revealed allegiance. Halsey herself fails to make much of a mark, because for all that Ballerini tries to construct her counterpart as a real person, with an enviable poise and specific tastes in cocktails, Halsey’s talent is in smearing her emotions into spectral uncertainty. (Consider her track titles: “Nightmare,” “Graveyard,” “Ghost.”) This story’s leads lack chemistry; theirs is a love triangle that won’t stand.
[5]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: In the grand tradition of excellent songs about love triangles, “The Other Girl” scrapes the bottom of the barrel. Kelsea and Halsey exchange feckless insults, pontificating about a relationship with no real emotional stakes. 
[3]

Nicholas Donohoue: Individual shame stemming from a form of being wronged is such a rich well to draw from. Pondering the desirability of another through the eyes of your partner is too. Even two people simultaneously considering the state of the triangle they are in from a shared cheating partner is workable. All together though, it comes out as way too spread to be as mellow as it is, especially given this is two people who, while sharing a situation, don’t have to be sharing the exact reaction.
[5]

Alfred Soto: The hell is this twaddle? So promiscuity and dry martinis are the signs of a slattern? 
[2]

Monday, July 20th, 2020

Tei Shi – Die 4 Ur Love

Have you heard the world is ending?


[Video][Website]
[6.57]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: An abopalypse with deadly stakes: if “Die 4 Ur Love” was a weapon, it’d be a razor-sharp steel dagger lying on a bed of rose petals. 
[8]

Katherine St Asaph: Gorgeous, but what’s the point of an immaculate coruscating polished-pretty gem of a song about the fucking apocalypse? Have we learned nothing from Kesha? That gonzo Lavos gurgle in “Till the World Ends“? Even Alice Chater?
[6]

Oliver Maier: “Die 4 Ur Love” is slick and catchy, but poised to the point of stiffness, with an aloof Tei Shi not quite selling the knife’s-edge lyrics. This problem is best summed up by the way she repeats “apocalypse,” with the same melody, between the pre-chorus and hook, as a clause of its own with no meaningful relation to the rest of what she’s saying. Not only does the repetition feel like slapdash recycling, but lyrically it’s not much more than a clunky signifier of non-specific stakes, a smoke machine kicked on when half of the audience has left already.
[5]

Tobi Tella: Soft and inviting even at rock bottom; the casaulness mitigates the heartbreak.
[6]

Leah Isobel: Tei Shi is a quintessential [6] artist, but her solemn pronunciation of “apocalypse” — a great word to include in a pop song! — upgrades this to a solid…
[7]

David Moore: Sleek electropop that might be Tei Shi’s most transparent play for wider recognition, since her sneakier hooks and subtler pop moves circa Crawl Space weren’t world-beating, perhaps by design. Still, I think her former sound — ingratiating but claustrophobic — feels closer to the zeitgeist.
[6]

Nicholas Donohoue: I’m a sucker for any pop song format that’s just piling up 10 or so hooks all on top of each other without ever giving away the game. The level of expectation setting and release here is such a mood and groove based slice of solid craft that you end up with a full soundscape that’s earned its total consuming final 30 seconds. All so while keeping a cool head that does invoke a form of apocalypse, however bound in any one line by putting every flavor and twist somewhere in the layered cake buildup.
[8]

Sunday, July 19th, 2020

Bonus Tracks for Week Ending July 19, 2020

Friday, July 17th, 2020

The Chicks – March March

Presumably won’t be sued by Judy and Suzanne Donaldson


[Video]
[7.44]

Katie Gill: Let’s get this out of the way first: to the best of my knowledge, “March March” had already been written by May 1, the originally announced release date of Gaslighter. I suspect there’s already an article out there claiming the Chicks are jumping on the #BLM bandwagon, which 1. ain’t true in the slightest, and 2. if you think the group that was willing to publicly criticize the Iraq War in 2003 is doing this for brownie points, I’ve got some swampland in Florida to sell you. This is an absolutely powerful song that pulls no punches. The minimalist backing highlights the power of Maines’ vocals and the group’s lyrics. That “cut the shit, you ain’t going to the gun range” is perhaps the most haunting aside I’ll hear in all of 2020. And the transition from minimalist backing to that absolutely sublime violin solo is top-notch. But the majority of the power from this song comes from the video, which recontextualizes the song’s more general indictment of various protestable problems like school shootings and climate change to focus on the current Black Lives Matter movement. The video is a triumph of editing, especially the absolutely arresting and heartbreaking list of names at the end. The moment when they start moving faster, fast enough to the point where you can’t read them all, feels like a punch in the chest. If the VMAs actually gave a damn about music videos outside of the 20 or so approved VMA winning artists, this would be a shoo-in. But it does make you wonder how well “March March” plays on the album itself or in a performance context, without the sublime video to bolster it.
[8]

Edward Okulicz: It’s almost a pity that this isn’t the debut single by an actual new group called The Chicks, because the opening lyric “march, march to my own drum,” delivered like a serpent ready to strike, is as potent a statement of intent as Pistol Annies’ “Hell on Heels.” Only it sounds more like Lorde. Any country elements are ghostly, threatening to run away in the mix if you focus on them. The Chicks have done what Lady A(ntebellum) failed to do and met the moment head on.
[8]

Jackie Powell: I appreciate that The Chicks are “meet[ing] the moment” by not only reflecting inward, but also giving voice and handing their platform to those who have been actually marching in the past two months. They know they shouldn’t be in this video, and for the most part they aren’t. I don’t mind that we see Emily Erwin’s hands plucking her dobro. The Chicks understand that their rebranding is more than a statement of their potential wokeness and clout (cough cough Lady A). “March March” has less of a sonic punch than its predecessor, but it does accomplish a lyrical gut-punch. “What the hell happened in Helsinki?” is delivered with such sarcasm but also a defeatist tone, and the guitar and banjo harmonize the answer. I remember that day, and I remember how Twitter and the news machine reacted. It was horrifying. The final chorus crashes with a percussive convergence, as a thunderous bass drum attacks the first syncopated motif from the first measure. The “march” is layered and has intensified. Overall, the track would have served The Chicks even before the world’s racial reckoning. It could be interpreted as a bit more conceited: Natalie Maines and co. once again positioning themselves as the country stars who have “taken on” the Nashville establishment while making “the personal political.” They’ve been “March March”ing to their own drum for a while. With their first full-length release in almost fifteen years, they ought to know they aren’t marching alone.
[7]

Tim de Reuse: Dramatic, unfocused rambling that could’ve come from any white country up-and-comer trying to cram a profound single into their feel-good debut album. The “lies are truth and truth is fiction” bit is wishy-washy enough, but choosing to end your second verse with an apparent plea that we all keep Russiagate in our minds betrays a catastrophic failure to understand what most of the country does and does not give a fuck about right now. A band that got nationally blacklisted for the better part of a decade after daring to condemn the Iraq war should in theory be positioned pretty well to say something incisive — and yet, and yet…
[3]

Alfred Soto: What makes “March March” a minor triumph aren’t the lyrics, which are of course audible but nevertheless weirdly and touchingly mild for these anxious times, but the way the Chicks let the song expand its lung power. A trippy, haunting example of the genre’s recombinant abilities unfolds in the last minute as Old Country’s handclaps, banjo, and fiddle meet the echo and slight distortion of New Country. To deal with anxious times, art should remind audiences of how we see traces of what is lost in what is new.
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: I did not expect them to almost turn into “Army of Me” — not now, not circa Court Yard Hounds, not circa “Goodbye Earl” — which was a cover, anyway — not circa the bluegrass days. Jack Antonoff is producing (alongside Taking the Long Way‘s Dan Wilson), so “March March” mostly remains a yellow flicker beat. But as it progresses, it prove the Chicks’ name change wasn’t just cosmetic or #woke. They know half of you love them — their loyal fanbase, and lots more people who don’t listen to country but love the idea of them — and will forgive pandering, via a single that’s no more political or pointed than stuff by Brandy Clark or Eric Church or even occasionally Brad Paisley. (The “cut the shit, you ain’t going to the gun range” aside is sassy-great, if obsolete — the boogaloos aren’t pretending — and blunted when the Chicks reuse it on a throwaway line.) They also know there’s no point pandering to country radio, the half that already hates then, and likely also that they’re too much of a legacy act for pop-crossover radio. This gives them musical freedom, and unlike countless message songs with afterthought arrangements, they use it. “March March” dispenses with words for almost a full two minutes to show, not tell, via a Southern gothic (in both senses of the phrase) “I’m Not Done.” Sopranos ping like sonar, fiddlers play like they’re Nigel Kennedy, handclaps and banjos form a dense thicket. It’s striking, and made to listen to, not just to retweet and Google lyrics.
[9]

Steacy Easton: The harmonies are nice, and I’ve missed them, but the abstract, anxious and spiky instrumental — especially the banjos, handclaps and mysterious production on the last minute of the song — matches the innovation of the name change. 
[8]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: The Chicks occupy an odd space in my music memory. Their music was popular when I was a kid, but I was too young in 2003 to grasp how and why they were suddenly ostracized from the country music industry. After they disappeared, I never thought that much about it. It was only after Beyoncé and The Chicks’ 2016 “Daddy Lessons” that I started to understand the subversiveness of their music. And it was only after perennial problematic fav Taylor Swift explained her fear of speaking about politics, in the context of The Chicks’ blacklisting after speaking out about President Bush, that I began to understand how the country music establishment silences voices of dissent. “March March” is a band unapologetically doubling down on the principles that they were shut out for. It’s a band using their white privilege to vocalize an anti-racist message that prioritizes black, trans, and POC lives–reclaiming space and power in a patriarchal, racist industry. It’s a hyper-political country anthem that soundtracks this moment, but it’s also more than that.
[8]

Tobi Tella: Bluster and generic empowerment are not what white artists should be providing right now, nor does it match the mood of the moment. This is steely, gritty, minimalist, and resilient, from a group that’s been walking the damn walk for over 15 years.
[9]

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

PVRIS – Gimme a Minute

Vlvs I cvn’t, flvt out here…


[Video][Website]
[5.00]

Oliver Maier: I gave them three and a half and all they did was try and sell me a PS5.
[2]

Will Adams: It’s easy enough to dismiss “Gimme a Minute” as being Billie Eil-ish (especially the way the “I think I’m losing my mind” fill echoes “like I wanna end me”), but that ignores everything PVRIS add to the framework that make it their own. Where Billie murmurs, Lynn Gunn roars. Her signature rasp throughout portends an eventual release, and it arrives via a scuzzy e.guitar break. Should the “dark pop” label need any reviving, this can be patient zero.
[7]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: “Gimme a Minute” doesn’t come alive until the last minute, when the PVRIS’s latent emotional trauma finally combusts. Before that switch flips, the track lags, but purposefully: sonically manifesting mental health doldrums as well as any other artist in the post-Billie Eillish world. 
[6]

Alfred Soto: Fever Ray sped up and schlocked up, awaiting the right remix.
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: 5 years ago, PVRIS were making some shit-hot 1982 DO(hard)R. Now, apparently, they just wanna be a lame dance-pop version of Paramore. No thanks.
[2]

Edward Okulicz: For any criticism you might level at Billie Eilish, her songs and sounds are never aimless; PVRIS swipe her intonation on one or two lines but none of her acuity and focus. When the guitars come in the song really ramps up to top speed, but you’ve got too much padding. Half a promising instrumental, the rest sounds unfinished, underwritten.
[4]

Katherine St Asaph: Like several singles nowadays (honestly though? not enough), “Gimme a Minute” would not exist without “Bury a Friend.” Unlike those singles, “Gimme a Minute” has ideas beyond that. You know the sound: bassy schaffel, with two-thirds of the treble gone and the other third scuffed with steel wool. You know the idea: inspired by pain and executed as fevered nightmare logic. (Or, to the cynical, inspired by cash and executed as creepypasta.) But “Gimme a Minute” subverts the formula in two ways — and interestingly, both subvert itself. The lyric suggests whispery close-miking — literally suggests, i.e., “someone just ripped out my throat, told me to sing while I was choked,” which if this weren’t so earnest I’d find a damn good subliminal dunk. But Lyndsey Gunnulfsen is a belter; no matter how throatless or distorted or Francis-and-the-Lightsed her voice, she shall belt. The chorus, about the way one gets ambushed by the past — the greatest trick trauma ever played was convincing you you’re fine now — would work quite well with “Bury a Friend”‘s fracture structure, jerked from room to room of a time-cave. But “Gimme a Minute” is a pretty conventional build-and-build. Unlike its predecessor, you don’t think it could go anywhere at any moment. What you do think is that it could always go higher. And thankfully, PVRIS actually goes.
[7]

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

BTS – Stay Gold

Fool’s gold, more like…


[Video]
[4.00]

Michael Hong: More than “love yourself,” this is BTS’ mission statement. It’s clear after an album of callbacks to previous lyrics, samples, and motifs that BTS are just not ready to let go of the past, that they’ve been filtering everything through warm rose-gold nostalgia. All that’s here is a blurry photograph missing the full picture, glossy but blank, with its annoyingly repetitive chorus in the place of something meaningful.
[3]

Alex Clifton: “Stay Gold” recalls some of BTS’s earlier Japanese-only releases that I liked, with bouncy pianos and cheerful lyrics. A song like “Stay Gold” is badly needed in the cruel summer of 2020, a reminder to keep your spirits up during the worst times. Like “Spring Day” before it, it’s a song about love and friendship. Hell, the video shows BTS separated and then happy and together bathed in golden light. (It’s a lovely video, although I worried about social distancing guidelines as I watched — an unexpected consequence of the COVID era.) But there’s something also more… soulless about it? Don’t get me wrong, the boys believe every word they’re singing. I’ve followed this band long enough to know they genuinely care about creating a caring space so fans know they are safe and loved. Yet the production here is too polished. That might be a weird claim to make about K-pop/boy band music in general, but there’s a scrappy energy missing here that made BTS’s earlier work so great. Much of the Map of the Soul work has left me bored. It’s not technically bad in the slightest, but leans more generic than I’m used to from this band. Is this a product of their increasing international popularity? Have I grown too far away from the fandom? Have my tastes changed so radically? I really can’t tell. At any rate, it’s a sweet sentiment; I just wish the song were better.
[5]

Nina Lea: For a song that has nearly enough writers to field a Little League team, “Stay Gold” sports both somewhat generic lyrics and a lack of decisive personality. The track avoids the more-is-too-much muddle of vocal lines and effects that have bogged other BTS singles down and offers some excellent showcases for the members. But like those relentless piano chords, the song builds and builds to end up right back where it started from.
[5]

Tobi Tella: My problem with BTS is just how manufactured and robotic it all feels, label-designed to make me feel the right emotions at the right time. But damn if the design doesn’t work sometimes! The novelty wore off about halfway through, and it does still feel empty, but I can’t lie and say that first chorus hit over images of golden retrievers and flower petals didn’t make me want to cry.
[5]

Alfred Soto: It took less time to change my car’s rear passenger side tire than it took BTS to get to the splat of a chorus.
[4]

Edward Okulicz: BTS as a troupe of Johnnys imparting advice to their stan army of Ponyboys and Ponygirls? Basically a licence to print money and make streams. But there’s something very dated about “Stay Gold,” like it’s walked battered out of the breezy pop doldrums of ten or so years ago with nothing to say and nothing to make you remember it by. To be frank, it’s boring.
[3]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: BTS aims for an inspirational, special daydream soundtrack, but the result sounds quotidian and snoozy; “Stay Gold” feels as golden and luxurious as Sears. 
[3]

Katie Gill: It’s really amazing how one of the biggest K-pop groups in the world decides to give us a song that reminds me way too much of “Billionaire” or a Train song instead of anything, you know, GOOD, and it still manages to rack up ten bajillion views. Stan ARMY or something I guess.
[4]

Monday, July 13th, 2020

Megan Thee Stallion – Girls in the Hood

Don’t quote us, cause we ain’t said shit…


[Video]
[6.29]

Katherine St Asaph: The “Boyz-n-the-Hood” flip, although (or because?) it doesn’t do much besides exist, makes me wonder what Megan would be like over full-on hard rock riffs — something to match her level of presence.
[7]

Will Adams: Megan is a force, as usual, with energy and memorable lines (“Pussy like a wild fox looking for a Sasuke” ) to spare. The terrible beat lets her down; it’s too spare, relying on little more than wan guitar accents and plinky pianos to carry everything. She can handle aural pyrotechnics on the level of “Diamonds”; why stick her with this dud?
[4]

Tobi Tella: Some great punchlines here, including a fantastic Naruto shoutout, but the beat and repetitive hook repel rather than attract and I’m just not convinced this song needs to exist, y’know? I love Meg too much; I don’t want to get bored of her.
[6]

Oliver Maier: Nothing particularly new here from Meg. She always raps her ass off but it’s disappointing that she settles for turning “Girls in the Hood” into another punchline tour de force rather than putting it in conversation with Eazy-E’s original track, or at least trying for the same level of specificity. It doesn’t even boast the best ever bar about receiving oral while watching cartoons.
[4]

Steacy Easton: This is just efficient, from the swagger of the first line to the penultimate Naruto reference, in and out in a little over two and half minutes. It’s pretty impressive as an example of pure skill.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: It’s about time that a woman flipped Eazy E’s misogynist classic/relic “Boyz-n-the-Hood” and turned it on its head, making it a feminist anthem. And it makes 100 per cent sense that the woman to do so — “a hot girl [doing] hot shit” indeed — would be Megan. She’s here to let us all know that she’s always in charge, like it or not, and “Girls” makes that crystal clear. Also, who had “Scott Storch comeback” on their 2020 bingo card?
[8]

Alfred Soto: Tracks like “Girls in the Hood” are critic-proof. Either listeners embrace its steely eyed efficiency or — well, what? Some of its tropes are tired, but a performer like Megan sasses them up. If the performer weren’t Megan, she’d still score a minor triumph.
[7]

Monday, July 13th, 2020

Shamir – On My Own

Not a Joey Potter cover…


[Video]
[7.50]

Alfred Soto: Flippy-floppy drums and guitar? Who expected this? Such emphatic methods in support of an introvert’s anthem — the dialectics are delicious. “I feel it in my bones/Inside myself is where I belong,” he sings in a middle eight of finesse and specificity. 
[8]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: A song about isolation where every piece feels deeply interlinked. From that call-and-response drum hook and the endlessly repeating two-note pattern of the guitar riff to the multi-tracked warmth of Shamir’s vocal performance, nothing on “On My Own” goes it alone. Shamir’s tone isn’t angry or sorrowful. In the inward voyage, the contraction from everyday life, he makes like a pop punk monastic, offering up a perfectly crafted pop song as a product of solitude.
[10]

David Moore: On Hope, Shamir was raw and tuneful in equal measure — and since then Shamir has been threading the needle artfully, upping the production gloss without losing the urgency. This one also qualifies as quarantine-pop, of the sort that was extremely relevant a few weeks ago and now feels crystallized in a moment that was (is?) simultaneously endless and fleeting.
[7]

Nortey Dowuona: Big, galloping drums ride over sliding synths and shark-fin guitars and low swinging bass. Shamir glues them all together, pulling them along with Shamir as Shamir begins to spin them in a circle. As they lift, Shamir stands atop them and rises up over the skyscrapers into the clouds, cutting each down as trees spring through their foundations, with Shamir landing in a tree.
[8]

Katherine St Asaph: Two great guitar riffs — one of which gets echoed as a bass riff, a trick I’ll always have a weakness for. Vaguely familiar riffs, too, so probably one or both of them might be nicked or pastiched from somewhere — and if you figure out which vocalist/s Shamir’s a dead ringer for please let me know; it’s been bugging me for over a week. But familiar doesn’t imply less great.
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: Shamir doing a “traditional” pop-rock song? Wow. I’d likely like this better if I enjoyed traditional pop-rock more. His voice, a piercing countertenor, doesn’t really match with the song and music, unfortunately.
[5]

Will Adams: The dense pop-rock arrangement recalls Sky Ferreira’s “You’re Not the One,” which is also a song about how unrequited love can feel like you’re drowning in percussion. But “On My Own” is more hopeful; Shamir finds comfort in post-breakup solitude rather than melancholy. It’s a hymn for the introverts, one that will last beyond its timely nature.
[7]

Leah Isobel: Shamir’s early material and the press surrounding it presented him as something of an aspirational figure — he was a party-starter, an uplifting diva, and a motivational speaker in one. He was an extrovert, or at least he was supposed to be. But the intervening years of label drama, mental health struggles, and musical rebrands have thrown that characterization overboard, and “On My Own” feels like an endpoint for this evolution. His voice sounds better than it ever has — he’s multitracked and mixed a little further back, which allows him to play against the chilly alt-rock arrangement instead of forcing him into a bright pop spotlight. Morever, his lyrics don’t strain for universality to resonate, and in fact, he shrugs off the idea: “I don’t care to feel like I belong,” he hums in the chorus, “but you always did.” He admits that he may be cold, but better that than suffering in silence “just to feel whole.” Not to be like “as a Gay Person,” but as a gay person, the unflinching depiction of what it is to be an outcast in a society that either commodifies you or wants nothing to do with you feels spot-on. Having been through the industry machine before, Shamir knows that dynamic intimately, and all of that experience comes to bear here. It’s the most completely satisfying song he’s made so far.
[8]

Sunday, July 12th, 2020

Bonus Tracks for Week Ending July 12, 2020

Friday, July 10th, 2020

Jawsh 685 x Jason Derulo – Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat)

Do you think we still have time to enter this?


[Video]
[2.00]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: “Savage Love” is a rich text. In its pre-Derulo form, “Laxed” was less a song that could stand on its own and more a novelty beat that could be reused for TikTok memes endlessly. In its journey to the charts, it represents an inversion of the prior norms of TikTok success — instead of an artist trying to make one of their own tracks into a meme, Derulo sought out a pre-existing meme to make his own. In his usage, it’s a pretty standard Derulo song. Most of all though, all versions of this song are pretty awful to listen to at length. I have a headache and I don’t know if I should blame Derulo or those synth horns.
[1]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Jawsh 685’s beat seems ripped from Dora the Explorer; Jason Derulo sounds as savage as a baby kitten. 
[1]

Thomas Inskeep: The current #1 single in the UK is this unholy pile-up of an obnoxious “viral melody” made by a 17-year-old New Zealander (nothing good has ever come from the phrase “popularized on TikTok”) and some lyrics written by the washed-up how-did-he-ever-have-a-career-anyway US singer Jason Derulo. It’s awful beyond belief, and worse yet, it sounds like a global smash. And until Lewis Capaldi drops a new single, it’s easily 2020’s worst.
[0]

Will Adams: Jason Derulo swiping a TikTok novelty song for a quick cash-in wouldn’t be noteworthy were it not for the hilarious dissonance between his crooning over a fiery relationship and Jawsh 685’s rinky-dink keyboard demo track beat. The only hope for “Savage Love” meriting existence is if it becomes its own meme where it’s juxtaposed with increasingly inapposite backing tracks. What will we hear him stapled onto next? “Baby Shark”? “Pen Pineapple Apple Pen”? “Friday”???
[2]

Tobi Tella: “Jason Derulo steals TikTok beat for song” is an objectively hilarious series of events, and the fact that the song is completely nondescript and listless except for when that drop hits just makes it even funnier (and sadder).
[2]

Scott Mildenhall: Morning. Jason Derulo is at rest, just as in the afternoon and evening, or so it seems these days. With his sheets on the floor, daylight comes and he’s still sat at home. The drums, they swing low, low, low, rolling on into purgatory. He no longer remembers what followed them. In his head, he sees what they say, beyond these four walls. Putting off their shade, he covers up his eyes, unable to look outside the house they make it hard to leave. “Future history,” he thinks. “Future history.” It now feels more like prognosis than prognostication. But though senses fade, his sixth does not. When he hears the right sound, those ears still wiggle. Somewhere in the distance, as if from the other side of the world, the back of a million buses, and the midst of a million schoolgrounds, a siren calls. “What if? What if I’m lucky?” Slowly, his name begins to resound. Jason Derulo. An umlaut flies overhead, direct from Beluga Heights. Jason Derulo. Like breathing: Jason Derulo. I am Jason Derulo, and I make competent R&B over quirky noises. The sky’s the limit.
[6]