Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Bad Bunny – Vete

Bad Bunny: the newest way to get over the flu! (These statements have not been approved by the FDA.)


[Video]
[6.29]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Bad Bunny’s loud-as-hell shtick does not usually work for me, but “Vete” does. It’s not any seismic leap above anything on X 100PRE or “Callaita,” but its core dialectic — the iciness of the beat versus the effusive hammer of Bad Bunny’s vocals — is honed to evoke emotion. His heartbreak, his desire to push away but inability to fully commit, are fully on display, even before i knew the lyrics. It still lacks any real momentum — it’s a uniform distribution of force when it should peak somewhere — but it sounds great moving nowhere.
[7]

Brad Shoup: With these rough-breakup songs, I’d like to know why someone’s mad. And how mad? Are they being ironic? (I love ironic breakup songs; “Better Now” was the best one last decade.) Here? Who knows. He’s a grouch on the hook and tired on the verses, splitting up assets, parting with the dog (!), and pointing to the door, over and over.
[4]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: A strange marvel that Bad Bunny can open his mouth and constantly sound like he’s half-screaming, half-crying.
[7]

Alfred Soto: A petty complaint: singing this wee low key thing in the same register gets wearying for 3:12.
[4]

Will Adams: The wailing works; Bad Bunny reaches for bitterness over this breakup but can’t help spiraling out, eventually reaching a scratchy “no no no no!” Paired with the moody trap beats and undulating bass — along the lines of “Fingías” and “Pero No” — it’s a compelling display.
[7]

Michael Hong: That slight shuffle in the beat is emblematic of reggaeton, something slightly lethargic alone but frenetic when amplified in the space of the club. “Vete” uses that to its advantage, attempting to sound buoyantly exuberant but the track’s lack of features hits intensifies its pain and loneliness. Here, the hazy atmosphere and those higher-pitched synths add a dreamy dimension to what could have been in a failed relationship. Maybe if this were someone else’s song it would remain a dreamy haze, a picture of what could have been, but Bad Bunny isn’t content with that. Instead, he burns it all to the ground, getting in a number of sharp digs before singing the final lines in an almost chipper manner to demonstrate he’s over it before the song’s even finished.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: When your track is as (relatively) stripped-down as “Vete,” it’s gonna rise or fall on the artist’s voice. Fortunately, Bad Bunny has an inordinately strong, distinctive one — and the simple production here really allows him to shine. He’s a star, and he sounds like one.
[7]

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Roddy Ricch – The Box

Your latest US #1, all wrapped up…


[Video]
[6.12]

Joshua Lu: An absolute slapper that skulldrags George Zimmerman going #1 on the Hot 100? Maybe there is hope for this country.
[7]

Oliver Maier: Ricch stakes his claim as one of Young Thug’s ascendant disciples (“Memo” comes to mind in particular) with hints of Swae Lee, despite lacking either rapper’s effortless confidence or intuitive weirdness. The blown out percussion and Ricch’s fast, kinetic flows suggest an attempted banger, but the morose, alternating samples render the beat sluggish. I’m over it by the two-minute mark; either TikTok hits have conditioned me to crave brevity in hits or “The Box” simply outstays its welcome.
[5]

Alfred Soto: His lyrics aren’t as outside the box as he thinks, but his rapping almost is. Stretching notes, decelerating, or stressing unexpected words, Roddy Ricch thinks on his feet. 
[8]

Ryo Miyauchi: It cracks, it chirps, it squawks: Roddy Ricch manipulates his voice in countless fun ways. The chorus alone locks into a Gunna-like repetition only for him to then stretch the syllables into oblivion. The writing doesn’t come close to the oddities of peak Young Thug, but it’s already apparent he has rightfully won the comparisons when it comes to the way he experiments with his voice.
[6]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The squeaking is distinct enough without being obnoxious — bless the mixing. Its presence is made complete with Roddy’s rapping: hearing him hit the same note as that sound (which was actually something he vocalized himself) makes the song alluring; he takes the musicality of the ad-lib seriously while acknowledging its playfulness. He constantly shift gears too, reticent to let any single flow settle for long, but there’s nary a sense that he’s peacocking. Even his warbled phrasing of “Imma get lazy” feels like a knowing wink.
[6]

Will Rivitz: “Pour up the whole damn seal, I’ma get lazy,” says Ricch, which tracks: this song feels eons longer than its purported three-sixteen runtime, codeine-stretched beyond patience. That the entire thing feels built around three instrumental loops doesn’t help; the ad-lib, which would succeed if it didn’t take up quite so much space, ends up invigorating for the first minute and aggravating for the rest.
[4]

Brad Shoup: I’m still going back and forth on his locked-car ad-lib, but it’s fascinating how it buries the orchestral flourish. It’s a fuck-you extravagance, only coming to the forefront — changing from a miasma to a love theme — in the final seconds. Not to take away from what Roddy’s doing: he’s funny and callous, a hand on the pyramid and an eye to the ground. It’s what you want. 
[8]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Roddy Ricch’s strength lies in his malleability. He’s got the kind of melodic, compact style that sounds like it could be from anywhere, a post-regional rapper that nevertheless doesn’t sound overly online or detached from reality. Unfortunately, “The Box” is poorly designed as a showcase for his skills. Surrounded by faux-gothic trappings and a distracting vocal hook, Roddy doesn’t do much on the song’s first verse, delivering generic trap verses that don’t amount to much. The second verse works better — he sounds re-energized, playing around with his flows and getting weird lyrically — but he still sounds slightly uncomfortable with the rigidity of the song’s structure. On the rest of Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial, he works better when his beats are more organic, with more room for his melodic experiments. But on “The Box,” he’s too locked in.
[5]

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Sigala feat. Ella Henderson – We Got Love

You, on the other hand, got meh…


[Video]
[4.55]

Will Adams: This is now the fifth Sigala song we’ve covered that has “love” in the title. Fittingly, his exhaustion of the concept of love has been working in tandem with the exhaustion of blandly uplifting house music.
[4]

Iain Mew: Ah, they’re back together for a second go round, I thought confidently. Turned out I was thinking of Sigma ft. Ella Henderson and/or Sigala & Ella Eyre. Ah, Sigala have done basically this exact song before with the same message about the ultimate pre-eminence of love, I thought, and this time it was definitely “Came Here for Love.”
[4]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Songs like “We Got Love” — much like everything else from Sigala — have such a glossy veneer and chipper sound that it’s hard to shake the feeling that it wasn’t made to soundtrack corny commercials filled with crowds of diverse people smiling and dancing. Everything about it sounds artificial, which is why there needs to be a soaring vocal performance that helps me get past the artifice (or, perhaps more accurately, understand and empathize with it). “We Got Love” doesn’t get there because the chorus is centered around obnoxious, synthesized string stabs. Give me more Henderson, less instrumentation that makes me feel reflexively jaded.
[3]

Alfred Soto: I remembered Katy B while blasting “We Got Love” in an effort to pin this smoke machine emission to the wall — Ella Henderson shares some of her nasality. No matter how Katy fought to sound like a normal anonymous person, Henderson beats her with Sigala’s help.
[5]

Michael Hong: Sigala and Ella Henderson pull it off — finally, something that sounds as joyous and bouncy as UK dance-pop should be. Ella Henderson delivers a favourable performance that almost makes it possible to ignore the cookie-cutter genericism of the lyrics. Almost.
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: Average house track with an equally average singer, wasting a sample from one of the greatest records of all-time, Rhythm Is Rhythm’s “Strings of Life.” Listen to that instead.
[4]

Oliver Maier: It’s startling how quickly songs in this particular post-EDM house vein can switch from fun and kinetic to genuinely unpleasant, enough that I feel gullible for enjoying the verses and pre-chorus so much. Lots to like here, including but not limited to: the gooey bass, the horn quacks in the hook, the way Ella Henderson sings that stupid line about mannequins draped in designer, and most of all the surprising “Digital Love” solo near the end. All it takes is the clumsy drop to suck the soul out of the proceedings and make me feel like I’m either at the gym or sifting through Clean Bandit demos.
[5]

Brad Shoup: Sigala works up a urgent buoyancy, but Henderson is stuck scrubbing a couple egregious similes for profundity. Why didn’t she get to spend more time gliding along the filter house break?
[5]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The hurried feel of the beat and the rushed pacing of Henderson’s vocal performance (up until a bridge that slows things down half-heartedly before picking the tempo back up) distract from the intended lyrical message of love triumphing through (unspecified) adversity. There’s nothing unpleasant here but maybe there should be; it’s frictionless dance-pop that doesn’t realize that friction is the key to an effective groove.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: In the first paragraph of the main body of Sigala’s Wikipedia lies the fact that he possesses a degree in commercial music, a profuse gift of ammunition to all who wish to deem his productions calculated. Sure enough, picking out a house classic and dredging the humanity from Ella Henderson’s expansive voice are both things that could be done through code. But answer this, critics: wouldn’t a computer be capable of a more coherent treatise?
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: For a presumably hand-composed song, this is a fine demonstration — as fine as any other Sigala song, which is the point really — of the 10,000 Bowls of Oatmeal problem of procedural generation: “There are so many artifacts being produced that any given one of them will probably start seeming less special. I can easily generate 10,000 bowls of plain oatmeal, with each oat being in a different position and different orientation, and mathematically speaking they will all be completely unique. But the user will likely just see a lot of oatmeal.
[4]

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Idina Menzel & Aurora – Into the Unknown

[Knock, knock, knock-knock, knock] Do you want to build a sequel?


[Video]
[5.83]

Jessica Doyle: Given Disney’s current reputation for nostalgic repetition, I was pleasantly surprised to find Frozen II full of ideas — in fact so full of ideas that almost none of them actually get developed with any coherence. (Whose voice was it again? And why is Olaf suddenly obsessed with aging? And how was a troop of Arendellian soldiers going missing without a trace for three decades not an issue? Et cetera.) “Into the Unknown” is as good a preview of the incoherence as any, as the song makes no sense narratively, psychologically (having spent all but the last six months of her life being taught decorum and self-distrust to the point of pathology, Elsa is ready to flee Arendelle because she… hears a voice?), or musically: the build-up to the chorus is repeatedly off-puttingly paced, most clearly in the “How… do I… follow… YOUUUUU”  climactic line. But then again, I can say all this with authority because my older daughter, who was well finished with the first movie, is insisting on playing the soundtrack on the way to school. Maybe stuffing your sequels full of ideas and not worrying too much about the implications is more profitable than Bob Iger is willing to admit.
[4]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: It’s impossible to discuss “Into the Unknown” without discussing the massive success of “Let It Go.” “Let it Go” was the rare type of cultural touchstone whose power was almost universal: it sold 11 million copies the year after the movie came out, won an Academy Award and Grammy, reached top five on the Billboard Hot 100, was translated into 44 different languages, and arguably paved the way for Disney to release a second movie and Broadway musical. Winter 2013-2014 when the movie came out, I remember singing this song in French during French class; in 2020, I’m putting on a musical production of Frozen with my students in China and every one of them — inexplicably, even the ones who really don’t speak English — knows the words to the chorus. This is all to say: expectations for the second Frozen soundtrack were sky-high, and thus, “Into the Unknown” has been sold as the new “Let It Go” almost since before the movie was even released. (I’d argue that “Show Yourself” is a better thematic follow-up, but never mind me.) So does “Into the Unknown” live up to the hype? Not exactly; but to no fault of its own. The song works perfectly well as a way to advance the character development of Elsa and is gorgeously sung. Idina Menzel sells trepidation, fear, and excitement convincingly, and harmonizes with Aurora beautifully. It pays tribute to its listeners too; if “Let it Go” is a child’s anthem about becoming the person you have always been despite what others think, “Into the Unknown” is the adult version of that, a song about escaping the comfortable life you’ve built in hopes of finding something new about the world and yourself. The song is doomed to live in the shadow of its predecessor, but is still excellent in its own right. 
[8]

Jonathan Bradley: “Let It Go” was, for all its power, an introspective ballad that turned on the first Frozen‘s theme of the liberating wonder of self-discovery. Its successor, “Into the Unknown,” is tasked with maneuvering great wedges of plot into position, meaning it has to be the film’s showstopper as well as taking on narrative weight that “Love is an Open Door” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” bore first time around. (The piano flurries that form the intro deliberately invoke the latter.) Aurora’s four-note motif, the sinuous call that leads Idina Menzel’s Elsa out of a resolved story and the security of her home of Arendelle, is appropriately otherworldly, but the song needs far too much to be overwhelming to allow that delicate melody the space it needs to be as entrancing as it is supposed to be. But “Into the Unknown” does eventually manage to be more than stage-setting; “Are you someone out there who’s a little bit like me/Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be” is a couplet that speaks to that deep-seated sense of strangeness Elsa sees within herself and which has made her movies more than a toddler-sized-blue-dress dissemination mechanism. Something else helps: Menzel’s horizon-shattering wail when she hits “unknown.” The voice that defied gravity on “Defying Gravity” has the heft to move these big wedges of plot to where they need to go.  
[7]

Katie Gill: Whereas “Let it Go” was “Defying Gravity” reskinned, “Into the Unknown” is every musical theater “I want” song reskinned. Elsa wants to see how far she’ll go, she’s gotta find her corner of the sky, and for once it might be grand to have someone understand. As such, it’s something we’ve heard before. A decent re-interpretation of something we’ve heard before with downright beautiful harmonies near the end, but something we’ve heard before nonetheless. “Into the Unknown” also fails in the job it’s supposed to do: be inoffensive and singable enough that five year olds or my drunk ass can sing it through all the way without disaster happening. That last “into the unKNOOO-OOOOO-OOO-OOOOOWN” is very nice and very powerful and is comprised of notes that six-year-old girls and my exceedingly alto range cannot hit. But, like “Let it Go” before it, this is a song that Disney has carefully crafted and reverse-engineered and is putting so much pressure to be an actual hit. Of course it’s going to be decent. Not as amazing as “Let it Go,” which is easily a [9] on a good day and a [10] when I’m drunk, but a solid song nonetheless and one that I won’t mind hearing when Idina inevitably performs it at the Oscars or when my five-year-old second cousin starts happily talking to me about Frozen at the next family reunion.
[7]

Jackie Powell: Although Elsa doesn’t build an ice castle at the conclusion of this power ballad, “Into The Unknown” doesn’t need to be accompanied by gigantic visuals for it to be a much more complex and fascinating song than its predecessor. This track soars and it uses a potent string section, predictable but equally fun percussive cymbal crashes and Aurora’s eerie dies irae gregorian chant as a counter melody. There’s a certainty in “Let It Go” and that must be one of the reasons why it caught on as much as it did. But the difference in “Into the Unknown” is its obvious ambiguity in subject matter and tone. It’s not sure of itself, but I don’t think that detracts from its quality. That’s why I don’t think it’s really all that comparable to “Let It Go.” Its goals and motives are different. It’s more mature in lyrical plot and composition. “Into the Unknown” takes leaps and breaths just as Elsa does when she’s contemplating her next move. That’s the beauty of the track, which composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez have addressed. Each line in each chorus is symbolic. In every “Into the Unknown” within the refrain, Idina Menzel takes a leap sonically. First, she travels an octave higher, which is a relatively safe interval, but then that is followed by the much more difficult intervals as the chorus ends. Menzel’s voice goes up a ninth followed by an eleventh. Vocally she’s out of her comfort zone, which pushes Elsa to do the same. The melody is clearly a bit choppier. It also bounces especially on the couplet of alliterations: ” I’m sorry, secret siren, but I’m blocking out your calls.” Its dynamics are much more defined and that’s credit to Menzel, who wanted to sell the track as more than a “Let It Go” B-side. The extended queer metaphor that Elsa represents is able to flourish under “Unknown.” Although it really shows itself much more later in the soundtrack. 
[7]

Edward Okulicz: Yeah, look, Frozen II: Heterosexuality Reclaims the Throne of Arendelle gave me plenty of feels too, but I always preferred “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” to “Let It Go,” so this wasn’t one of the Primary Feels Sources. The use of Aurora’s four note call as a leitmotif is pretty clever melodically, but forcing this song and its narrative pivot kicking and screaming into being an “I Want” song (subclassification: “I Must,” which if it doesn’t already exist, it, well… should) is unbecoming. The asides (“which I don’t”) feel unnatural away from the cinema, and while Menzel surely blasts with those notes I don’t feel moved when I replay.
[6]

Brad Shoup: It’s quenching when, in the second half of the second verse, Menzel dips into some jump-blues phrasing. There was no way this thing was going to stay an Arctic tone poem, so I’m grateful for moments like that. Toss out the movie and have Menzel reel in the asides, and you’d have a fantastically mysterious piece of piano-pop.
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: I’ve never seen either of the Frozen films, but I recall how annoying I found “Let It Go,” from the first film. This is better (though still, of course, a big Broadway-style ballad); I appreciate how this song will likely speak to theatre kids who feel like the weirdos in their schools — songwriters Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, obviously, have a knack for this kind of thing. Having Broadway queen Idina Menzel sing it helps, as does the clever move of having Norwegian singer Aurora sing the part of the siren. Judged for what it is, rather than as a basic pop record, this is solid. 
[6]

Ashley Bardhan: As a recuperating former theater kid, I hoped this strange collaboration would be everything I wanted but couldn’t admit. Unfortunately, it turned out to be nothing I wanted, which I feel comfortable admitting. I’m not sure what Aurora is meant to do on this track other than supply wordless, ghostly ooo-ing, which opens you to a sense of mysterious possibility that goes absolutely nowhere. Idina Menzel is a powerhouse and typically good at convincing us that we are in her character’s world, but even she sounds bored at the incongruously triumphant swelling of orchestra during the chorus. She calls out from the overblown composition, “Into the unknown! Isn’t it cool that I’m hitting this E-flat in chest voice?!” Yes, it is very cool, but less so that the last 40 seconds of this song is essentially musical theatre sacrilege. A money-maker high-note chorus into a painfully loud bridge that conveys absolutely no mood other than “me and Aurora are both singing right now,” only to end with a very embarrassing, ham-fisted belted note? And they had the audacity to let Idina put a slide in there? No, no. No, no, no. No.  
[3]

Alfred Soto: No, no, I mean — let me go.
[3]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Even more than the first installment, Frozen II was lacking in songs that were memorable in and of themselves. “Lost in the Woods,” for example, is really only notable for the animation that accompanied it: a montage riffing on ’80s music videos that proved unexpectedly entertaining. “Into the Unknown” is the film’s best song, but the music doesn’t quite match what the lyrics are trying to convey: Why is the first chorus so bombastic when Elsa’s not yet convinced to follow this siren’s song? At least “Let It Go” knew how to accomplish a sensible narrative arc with its use of dynamic range. “Unknown” doesn’t come together as neatly as “Let It Go” either, which found a lot of meaning in the evolving delivery of “the cold never bothered me anyway.” The complaints could go on but at the end of the day, I can’t really hate something that finds Aurora using kulning — Scandinavian herding calls — as a narrative tool.
[5]

Tobi Tella: I was 13 when the first Frozen came out, and despite the fact that I probably should’ve been too old for Disney princess movies by the unspoken middle school social construct standards, I dragged my dad to see it in theaters. That probably should’ve been his first inkling that I was gay, and as clear as Disney’s attempts to play on my emotions were as a shy insecure gay kid, the introverted, uncomfortable princess Elsa was the most accurate representation I had really found of myself in a kids movie. “Let It Go” was not only a cultural moment but a formative one and even though looking back as an adult I know that Frozen has flaws, I can’t help but be empowered by it now. This song was set up to fail by its positioning it as “Let It Go II,” and the seams of this one are far more clear; the chorus is literally just one phrase repeated and the lyrics are prime “leave nothing to the imagination or subtext and explain all your feelings.” But I still feel an intense connection to this; maybe it’s Menzel’s strong and evocative vocal performance, maybe it’s nostalgia, and maybe it’s the feeling that even as a 19 year old my experience with my identity is not even close to over, the fact that there will always be unknowns which are horrifying yet intriguing (hello adult gay dating!). I’m not sure if this is a great song, or even a good one, but for a sequel with impossibly huge expectations it managed to evoke the same intense reaction that “Let It Go” did, so I guess Disney and their manipulations win this round.
[7]

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Jon Pardi – Heartache Medication

Tip your blurbers, folks…


[Video]
[5.71]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Familiar but decent neo-traditional country with enough of the fixings to make the target market happy. While Pardi’s voice always makes his songs worth a listen, the real joy here is in the chorus: you get a sense that he loves singing. Any singer can serve a pretty melody, but an entertainer can do something more nuanced: he’ll transfer the joy in performance right to the listener. The way the chorus’s topline keeps moving up and down, keeps going and going and going… Pardi lives to please, I’ll give him this one.
[6]

Alfred Soto: A decent simulacrum of the kind of male country jockstrap vocalizing that Nashville fans over forty say they miss, “Heartache Medication” gets by on the thud of its drums, impressively coiled rhythm guitar, and Jon Pardi himself. Before you accuse it of repeating the past, keep in mind: repeating the past is one of country’s lode stars. “One of,” anyway, which means we needn’t linger either.
[6]

Brad Shoup: “Bartender knows my name but I don’t mind” is a startling detail. Where are the songs about the fraught negotiation between customer and server? This one ain’t it. Between Pardi’s shallow-lung delivery and the lyrical choices (“Here I go again/I’m drinkin’ one/I’m drinkin’ ten” would work with hard-bitten pipes, but the text we get makes drinking sound like sensible self-care.) As usual, only the steel sounds like it wants barplay, or knows what pain is.
[4]

Thomas Inskeep: I love how this song refers to alcohol as “heartache medication” — that’s such smart wordplay I’m amazed it’s never before been done quite this way. Pardi’s a stone traditionalist country singer, reminiscent of Randy Travis in the mid to late ’80s, and he’s just what the format needs right now. Everything about this, including the slide guitar on the bridge, works like a charm, and I love it fiercely.
[9]

Jonathan Bradley: Pardi’s mind is on the medication; I suspect even without the heartache he’d be posted up at this exact same bar having just as good a time. The accompanying fiddle helps with that, adding zest to a track that might be a bit aimless and a bit forgettable without it. And sure, drinking sessions can be aimless and forgettable, but they’re never not going to be improved by a drinking song, and this one goes down easy.
[6]

Ryo Miyauchi: It’s still hard to pinpoint which thing about the well-worn country-music trope of alcohol consumption that doesn’t sit quite right: the quantity and frequency in which the protagonists always drink or the delight the singer tends to take in narrating their habits. Pardi’s case lean more of the latter with him giving a cute little name to those pain-relievers as well as the bonus prize he tacks on to his bar visits. The song tries to be innocent fun for the most part, dusting off stress and heartbreak as banal concerns the best it can, but it’s still not enough for me to ignore the reasons why he’s ordering shots to begin with.
[5]

Oliver Maier: Rushes through the verses as if it has a hook worth getting excited about. Bonus points for the guitar solo, but I would prefer if this just turned into the peppy Whitesnake cover it keeps almost being.
[4]

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Red Velvet – Psycho

You drive me crazy…


[Video]
[6.18]

Ryo Miyauchi: Mania as portrayed in “Psycho” is too choreographed to feel like genuine anxiety or horror watching the crash-and-burn narrative unfold. It plays into what you’d expect from dark Red Velvet: goth brass pomp, orchestral plucks, vocal trills that show just enough crack in the otherwise pristine performance. The ease with which they summarize their experience with that titular hook doesn’t help either. It’s all too controlled for it to come off as the mess they try to make it out to be.
[5]

Ashley Bardhan: I do kind of wish we were past the point of self-identifying as “psycho” because we’re in love, but since I don’t know Korean, I will assume this isn’t “Sweet but Psycho” levels of egregious and let it slide. The synth loop sounds like a sugar-high waterfall, which I like, especially when it pours into that brassy, jump-roping chorus. It makes me think of people dancing in slow motion. Nothing too crazy about that.
[7]

Jessica Doyle: For those delicate strings, the restrained singing, and the closing refrain that everything’s going to be okay, “psycho” is the wrong word to repeat. (Pabo, which means “fool,” might have been better.) I suspect the goal was to reach that sense of skewness that powered previous singles — think the self-deprecating, amused depiction of infatuation in “Dumb Dumb” and “Rookie,” or, more to the point here, the combination of menacing lyrics and early-video-game innocence of “Russian Roulette.” But here the suggestion of a relationship gone dangerously out of control never quite convinces, and Red Velvet come across as less desperate than bored.
[5]

Joshua Lu: I feel like I should be more excited about what’s being heralded as a return to form for an excellent girl group with a middling 2019, but “Psycho” isn’t nearly demented enough to match Red Velvet’s peaks. A title like that coming from a group like this sets expectations of what kind of craziness is to come, but instead they deliver Ava Max levels of psychosis, with bland verses that are too neatly set and a chorus that’s mushy and lethargic, with or without the music video version’s added strings. Not even the lyrics are capable of adding any tension — “Hey now, we’ll be okay,” they chant, but I’m left wishing otherwise in the off-chance that some turmoil leads to something more interesting.
[4]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The music video version is superior: the strings, alluring for their dizzying intensity, add flair to the prim arrangement. Still, the song’s chorus isn’t quite complete; it could use some affected vocalizing or a catchier hook or some flashy pyrotechnics — anything to break Red Velvet free from their stuffiest single to date. Still, this sense of suffocation is apt: a reflection of how trapped they must feel in wrestling with (the optics of) a not-so-“romantic” relationship.
[7]

Michael Hong: Typically in modern media, when a woman is portrayed as a “psycho,” portrayals shift between two phases: 1) the cool, even-tempered women, one who appears to be completely accommodating to the whims of the characters around her; and 2) the unstable woman, prone to random acts of aggression and manipulation, and a general lack of control. Red Velvet’s “Psycho” is fixated on that first phase with the instrumental tamped down to a chillingly placid state. Wendy and Seulgi’s falsettos adorn the strings and arpeggiating synths with the grace of a tightrope act, but it’s the breathless “psycho” that gives “Psycho” a hint of menace. Even the rap, despite Irene bragging that she’s “original visual,” lacks any surprise and feels relatively tame, even after the bland “Umpah Umpah.” The tension is dramatic, but “Psycho” still leaves me yearning for Red Velvet to completely lose it.
[7]

Alex Clifton: Red Velvet have now written the quintessential K-pop song about being in love with your straight best friend. It’s less experimental than some of their other material, which is disappointing, as I love the wonky moments in Red Velvet’s discography where the melody takes an unexpected turn and surprises me. It is, however, super-gay, and I am here for that.
[6]

Brad Shoup: When I saw the news that an English version of “Psycho” did not, in fact, make the Birds of Prey soundtrack, my first thought was I guess they already had an Ariana Grande song. This is good Grande-core, sure: the major-label orchestral arrangement woven into the processional click-and-pause R&B. The title is almost incidental, or perhaps refers to the level of detail.
[7]

Alfred Soto: The chorus builds to a convincing rattle and blare: the sticky-sweet vs sour dynamic Red Velvet has often handled with aplomb. 
[7]

Will Rivitz: A few years ago, Red Velvet became my favorite K-pop group thanks to their deeply compelling uncanniness: Their eerie, off-mainstream electronic influences (I maintain that “Peek-A-Boo” remains the best song Murlo never produced; ditto “Zimzalabim” and SOPHIE) consistently speak to me like no other K-pop I’ve heard has. “Psycho,” by contrast, draws its intro from Julia Michaels, its verses from OneRepublic, and its chorus from every electronic-friendly pop singer in 2017. Interchangeable pop from a group I love dearly for their iconoclasm.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: The nearly-classical, stately pace, the surprising oompah horns on the chorus, the swirling keyboards on the verses, the strong vocals: Red Velvet is at the top of their game right now, ladies and gents. “Psycho” is one of those records that sounds like 4 or 5 different songs at once, and gets all of them right, and knows how to blend them.
[8]

Saturday, January 11th, 2020

Bonus Tracks for Week Ending January 11, 2020

Happy New Year! Our writers started the year off strong, with over 150 blurbs this past week, and we also have writing to share from other corners of the Internet:

  • Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa has started A Week in May, a newsletter dedicated to the Eurovision Song Contest and meant as a space for fans of the show to engage with each other. Read the introductory issue and subscribe here!

  • Joshua Minsoo Kim published the third issue of Tone Glow, his newsletter about experimental music. This year-end issue focused on the best overlooked albums of 2019: Kim and Tara Hillegeist were among the thirteen writers who contributed reviews.

  • Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa also wrote about the twenty greatest documentaries of the 2010s for The Young Folks: “the most powerful documentaries of this decade are not those that take it straight to the facts or center their efforts in the factually incontrovertible, but those who immerse us in the subjectivity of the human experience.”

  • Finally, Kayla Beardslee published annotated playlists about Pharrell’s production discography and Max Martin’s US #1s. Both are introductions to (or reminders of) the influence and musical themes of Pharrell’s and Martin’s work, as well as a way of contextualizing the careers of their closest collaborators.
Friday, January 10th, 2020

Usher ft. Ella Mai – Don’t Waste My Time

Of course we can, Jibril!


[Video][Website]
[7.75]

Thomas Inskeep: Reunited and it feels so damn good: not only does “Don’t Waste My Time” mark Usher Raymond IV’s return to straight-up R&B, but it’s co-written and produced by his former collaborators Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox. It very smartly, slyly samples Hi-Five’s 1991 #1 “I Like the Way (The Kissing Game),” and even more smartly, features vocals from new R&B star Ella Mai, who matches Usher quite nicely. Her voice is so unique you immediately know who it is — just like Usher’s. Everything about this comes together so smoothly to make the first great single of 2020. (Here’s hoping this starts a commercial comeback for Usher, too.)
[9]

Alfred Soto: I’m conservative with the score because I don’t want what is intended as a Return to Form snookering me, but, really, the presence of Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox on production and songwriting, combined with a genuine frisson between Ella Mai and Usher, produces a 2004 throwback whose resonance depends on pleasure trumping familiarity.
[7]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Despite the new jack swing styling that Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Fox (and the lingering presence of Teddy Riley) provide, Usher seems almost determined to use “Don’t Waste My Time” as a demonstration of his continued relevance. In contrast to his last album (2018’s Zaytoven-produced “A”), he’s not trying to chase trap stardom — but he’s not in legacy act mode, as he was on his appearance on the Summer Walker album. Here, he just sounds like a really good R&B singer, with a clear ear for sophisticated phrasing (“my body gives notice” is artfully horny) and chemistry with his duet partner. Even more so than Summer Walker, who’s obviously inclined towards early 2000s nostalgia, Ella Mai is a perfect companion to Usher. She’s got a voice that sounds like it should be from some other era, and a certain poise that comes with it. It’s the kind of song that bypasses retro entirely and just sounds like it’s been around forever, the kind of well-made song that cranks say isn’t made anymore.
[8]

Katherine St Asaph: The danger of an uneven couple of years is that you can be Usher, release multiple astonishingly great R&B songs plus a straight-ahead banger or two, and yet still, somehow, end the decade underrated. “Don’t Waste My Time” has Jermaine Dupri channeling Teddy Riley via sample, lush strings, a corkscrewing chord progression, an actual sense of urgency and frisson, Usher sounding like his voice hasn’t aged in 20+ years, and Ella Mai sounding robust and assured as if she, too, has been around for 20+ years, as opposed to about two. Will it right the balance? I hope, but no. But it should.
[9]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The drum programming gets right to business. It sets the tone — flirty, lively, mischievous even — and Usher throws down a marvelous set of vocal melodies to match its energy. Ella Mai knows how to reciprocate, her vocals a bit more subdued but nonetheless seductive. This could’ve been a steamy slow jam, but the decision to keep things upbeat keeps you on your toes: you get swept in the rhythm, feeling the rush of sudden-forming flings, of swelling emotions and spur-of-the-moment decisions. “Don’t Waste My Time” is a song for the jaded, for when the pussyfooting and procedural games in finding sex become tedious. Its vibrancy captures a rare thrill: when everything goes right, right away.
[8]

Kylo Nocom: I’ve forgotten how effortless a delight Ella Mai’s voice is, and a reminder like this came at just the right time. Between this and “Don’t Play It Safe,” I’m convinced we need more sultry R&B anthems about what not to do.
[7]

Brad Shoup: Usher’s mannerisms are starting to sound like Stevie Wonder’s, but you could do worse. He’s still a pop pleaser at heart: this song is the latest example of him wrapping up before, well, someones thinks their time is being wasted. (I still wish “Caught Up” was seven minutes long.) He sounds effortless as usual; his smoothness (and those keys) cover up whatever retro pleasure was intended by the sampled 808. So Ella Mai goes harder, maybe by necessity, and gets stuck in the chorus running up on her host.
[6]

Alex Clifton: Not a second in here is wasted. Usher’s voice is ageless, Ella Mai’s a perfect fit, and together they’ve made an absolute groove. I’m a little bit in love.
[8]

Friday, January 10th, 2020

Full Tac ft. Lil Mariko – Where’s My Juul??

Do we choose rule, or do we choose suck?


[Video]
[6.11]

Alex Clifton: Juuls. Juuls. Juuls. Oh my god, Juuls.
[7]

Katie Gill: It’s a little bit telling how all the comments on the YouTube video are comparing this song to other meme songs and not talking about the merits of the song itself. Still, there will always be a place in the world for meme songs that are serviceable memes but less than serviceable songs that teenagers can obnoxiously quote on the bus. “Where’s My Juul” fits that niche perfectly. I expect a fleet of TikToks featuring people lip-syncing to this and will be very disappointed when this inevitably doesn’t happen because I am out of touch with the youth.
[6]

Kalani Leblanc: I can see there’s already an abundance of blurbs submitted for this song, and the number will have risen by the time I finish this. After thinking so hard about how to go about being the fifteenth person to say “It sounds like “Shoes”,” I’m realizing it’s not really “Shoes” anyway. While they’re both jokes that bear a resemblance in the thrash of a breakdown, “Where’s My Juul??” is also listenable. The comparison is getting tired because it’s like did anyone listen to “Shoes”? As a song? In earnest??? While this is not an entirely impressive piece, no concerto or FKA Twigs production, it’s enough. Since 2006, we’ve been making everything into jokes, so it makes perfect sense. Nicotine-induced freakouts would’ve been the subject of an after school special ten years ago, but now they’re joke material for hypebeasts and others on Twitter. Lil Mariko makes an impressive case while trying to find her Juul; I can’t find anything this song did wrong, sorry.
[8]

Will Adams: The mid-song 0-to-11 ramp is what takes this past the mean-spiritedness of “#Selfie” and the meme-spiritedness of “Phone” into effortless “Shoes”/”Let Me Borrow That Top” absurdity. The Juul is a placeholder; sub in any other monosyllabic cultural artifact, and Lil Mariko’s rage against Full Tac’s electroclash-y beat would cut through just as effectively. “Sorry, guys!” she says at the end, except there’s nothing to apologize for.
[7]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: I wrote 20 pages about Juul culture in 2018 so I should in theory be the exact target audience for this. Yet “Where’s My Juul??” doesn’t really click for me. It’s charming and funny in parts (Lil Mariko’s spoken verses, which transmit nervy anxiety and barely restrained fury effectively) but the hook, which takes up most of the very long minute-forty-five, is comedy via brute force principles: repeat a phrase enough and it will transfigure into a joke.  
[5]

Brad Shoup: About as funny as the related TikTok meme, though not as menacing, surprisingly. I wish so badly that Full Tac had gone full hardcore — or even brostep! — but am glad that Lil Mariko’s Danny Brownian ad-libs and sudden reversals grind “#SELFIE” into the dirt.
[7]

Oliver Maier: I need not catalogue the myriad ways in which this is transparently designed to blast off on TikTok — you would probably know better than me — but that cynicism detracts from “Where’s My Juul??” for me. There’s none of the spontaneity or sense of genuine fun that animates certain other genre-agnostic, threat-spewing, extremely online weirdo duos, more savvy than it is genuinely silly. It’s not badly executed, but I felt like I got the picture before even hitting play.
[4]

Will Rivitz: I get this is supposed to be more meme than song, but I so wish it had leaned into the latter for more than half its runtime. The “FUCK!!!” at the beginning of its second chorus is worth at least a [7] on its own, and its redlining nu-metal production is such a tight fusion of XXXTENTACION’s sonic fingerprint and simplified TikTok trap that I’m surprised the “oh my God” ad-libs aren’t followed by a “Ronny.” As it stands, “Where’s My Juul??” and its just-a-little-too-long interludes that grate after listen number four or so functions as a sort of “Thrift Shop” for the current day, a track defined by its novelty that we as an Internet music-Twitter hivemind all agree was genuinely good about five years after it’s exited the public consciousness. It deserves more.
[8]

Ian Mathers: Both less musically compelling and with less of a point than “Can I Get a Box?”.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: It’s kind of amazing how it took seven years for Rebecca Martinson to release her debut.
[1]

Nortey Dowuona: Lil Mariko is actually kinda weird in the lol so random funny way that people think that [insert overrated white comic who had a Comedy Central show] is and has a really great metal screaming voice. I don’t know who made this dull approximation of Kenny Beats and Pi’erre Bourne, nor do I care. Lil Mariko will hopefully get a recurring cameo role on Nora From Queens and get her own show from that.
[5]

Mo Kim: The best joke here is the escalation of nonchalance (hey, where’s my Juul?) into something desperate, and therefore dangerous: it hits like the drop in a rollercoaster when Lil Mariko finally breaks out the deep-throated metal screams, but the moment wouldn’t have half the thrill without the masterful way she gradually ups the heat on the song’s first chorus before that. Both of her spoken monologues, where she merges Valley Girl affect with murderous menace, only sweeten the deal.
[8]

Ryo Miyauchi: “Where’s My Juul??” gets spiked with an infectious dose of adrenaline when it suddenly turns a lot more aggro than you’d expect from a meme-y cross-section of Rico Nasty’s mosh-pop and PC Music’s ironic bubblegum. The demented beat stings with a pungent metallic sourness, and while her Valley Girl accent scans as an obvious put-on, Lil Mariko’s blood-curdling scream is legitimately hair-raising. The song rapidly combusts, ensuring the joke doesn’t overstay its welcome.
[7]

Joshua Lu: Yes, hearing the unassuming Lil Mariko scream and snarl over a missing Juul is intrinsically funny, especially accompanied by a music video that knows exactly how to push the limits of its concept. But the real strength of “Where’s My Juul??” lies in its sheer relatability. The title could be anything — where’s my wallet, my phone, my eraser — because anyone who has ever misplaced anything can relate to the escalating panic and rage in not only the cataclysmic vocals, but also Full Tac’s discordant production. Also crucial to the song is its sense of plot, as it steadily progresses from confusion to blame to outright violence. The ending, though predictable (Lizzo used the exact same twist not that long ago), is a necessary denouement, as it provides the moment where everyone involved can look back on the last minute and a half of chaos and laugh.
[8]

Iain Mew: As a song structure trick, I love the fake-out final verse, those ones that seem like something slowly developing before the artist brutally cuts it off for the chorus or instrumental to come back stronger than ever; the “Don’t Speak” and “Your Best American Girl” kind of thing. The key moment of “Where’s My Juul??” comes in taking that same trick to a ludicrous, brilliant extreme. It has a drawn-out, jittery verse, a cartoon scowl of a chorus, and then one question into verse two it veers straight into swearing, screaming and fucking everything up. That’s perfect enough that it would ideally be even shorter than it ends up.
[7]

Kylo Nocom: Full Tac and Lil Mariko do in less than two minutes what took Justice five. The gimmick is the least fun part, and judging by my sample size of BigKlit’s “Liar” and Full Tac’s very own “CHOP” the producers behind this might not even be as funny as this video would imply. But I’ve long settled with music that’s good on the merits of just being fun; when the production here is layered with discordant guitar sampling, analog drum kits, and distant screams of “piss!” and “fuck,” I’m willing to buy into the ugliness.
[8]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Full Tac returns with another take on “Liar,” succeeding because the goofy conceit here finds an appropriately goofy (that is, unexpected) vocal performance. Part of the appeal is how “Where’s My Juul??” could sit comfortably alongside songs from Rico Nasty and Rina Sawayama, but has the appeal of shoddy viral videos from yesteryear. It’s that “Kombucha Girl”-type reaction it’s striving to elicit, and it accomplishes that as soon as the screaming starts. The best detail, though, is the most subtle: the moment Lil Mariko stops herself from saying “who” and politely asks “have you seen it?”
[7]

Michael Hong: Have you ever been dragged to a party only for your only friend to disappear, leaving you to mingle with a group of people you don’t know? And one person makes a comment so absurd that you just giggle along with the rest of the group even though you’re not really sure if they’re layering their statement with even a hint of irony or if there’s something much more unsettling lurking underneath? But the jokes are getting more and more uncomfortable and suddenly fewer people are laughing along, instead furtively glancing across each other with an exasperated look as if to say “is this person for real?” And instead of backing away, that person instead starts doubling down, getting more and more aggressive, screaming across the room for what feels like hours and surely people must be ready to head out. Instead, when you finally catch a moment to glance down at your phone, you find that only two minutes have elapsed since you arrived and you realize that not even a quarter of the time has passed before your ride will come and you can leave this godforsaken party. You have absolutely no choice but to continue standing in the group in discomfort, waiting for this moment that feels like an eternity to finally finish, with the only background noise being the stereos blaring what sounds like someone’s first attempt at using GarageBand.
[0]

Crystal Leww: While I was digging through “likes” on SoundCloud, I noticed that a friend of mine had liked “Baby Let Me Know” by Full Tac, which sounds like the synth heavy dreamy pop that was popular at the beginning of last decade. I did not stick around for “Where’s My Juul??” so imagine my surprise today when I turned this on and it’s umm, screaming. A consistent genre as an essential part of an up-and-coming artist’s brand is less essential than ever, especially in an age where (waves hands) dance music has eaten itself alive in its swirling storm of troll energy. Chaos in and of itself is a brand — from 100 gecs to Alice Longyu Gao’s dueling sister tracks “Rich Bitch Juice”/”Dumb Bitch Juice” to any DJ Bus Replacement Service set, it has fully infiltrated dance music. How this goes from sweetly threatening to full-on psychotic and back to cutely apologetic is chaotic so yes, I think Full Tac could make some noise (both in creating a fanbase and also like literally) with this. 
[8]

Friday, January 10th, 2020

Camila Cabello ft. DaBaby – My Oh My

So let’s all pull together…


[Video][Website]
[3.77]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: I like Camila Cabello. I like DaBaby. I even like songs about daddy issues as much as the next person. But “My Oh My” is an unfortunate misfire I’d like to forget. Camila tries to sound playful and sexy but comes across as mischievous and malicious; DaBaby sounds stale having reached 2017 Quavo levels of oversaturation, and the lyrics are only one step removed from Charlie Puth’s “Mother.” The result is downright creepy. 
[3]

Brad Shoup: While I wait for American top 40 to get happy, I’ll settle for creepy. That two-note, haunted-house horn-and-organ motif, Cabello’s cackle, the backing vocalists that remind me of Cab Calloway’s guys… it’s like some ancient delinquent-teen pulp story. Both performers glare at me like I’m one of their parents or something; no one’s pretending they’re not just singing about sex; it’s refreshing, honestly.
[7]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Camila Cabello could do well with songs like these, the kind suitable for theatre productions. She gets close to making her affected vocalizing feel meaningful, but the cheap signifiers (he wears leather jackets! Her mom doesn’t trust him! She swears she’s a good girl!) aren’t ever fleshed out. Even a little more would suffice! As is, she sounds like a half-decent actor working with a poor script. Her histrionic vocalizing is missed.
[5]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Camila is best when she’s being melodramatic (cf. “Find You Again”), and the vaguely haunted vibes work to her favor here. It’s deeply underwritten — the first verse is just a list of outdated bad boy symbolism — but charming nonetheless. DaBaby helps a lot, though. He’s become pop rap’s best guest star over the past year, capable both as a rapper and as a cardboard cutout of a rapper. He’s in latter form here, playing up his central casting edgy heartthrob appeal without saying all that much. Camila, to her credit, plays the duet partner well too — her adlibs and harmonies during DaBaby’s verse help “My Oh My” work as more than just a generic singer/rapper collab.
[6]

Alfred Soto: The production interference — call and response vocals, fine, but echo and chants too? — doesn’t irritate me so much as Camila Cabello’s rank Britney imitation. Go ahead, wink and tease with a cyborg’s flair, 2018’s élan is gone.
[3]

Thomas Inskeep: Someone as incapable of sounding sexy on record as Cabello really shouldn’t try to do sex songs. I mean, the way she preens on “My Oh My,” she sounds like a robot; the lyrics don’t help. DaBaby stops by to collect his Hottest Rapper of the Moment paycheck.
[2]

Alex Clifton: It’s Havana 2.0: Bad Girl Edition, but Young Thug’s feature was way better than DaBaby’s verse. It also suffers the same problem as “Havana” did, which is that it gave Camila a great verse and then the rest of the time she’s relegated to the chorus, so her role in her own song becomes repetitive. Such a missed opportunity for a bigger, meatier story.
[4]

Katherine St Asaph: The title’s every bit as queasy-making as it was when Troye Sivan used it, and it would be fantastic if songwriters just zippity-do-didn’t. The track itself sounds like a blatant attempt to remake “Havana,” except when it sounds like a blatant attempt to re-animate a DJ Mustard RnBass skeleton from 2015, and except when that goddamn title keeps showing up, an Interrupting Choir lurching in after every line with a doomy, inappropriately heavy thud. The lyric is the same good-girl-gone-bad-but-don’t-worry-not-that-bad! stuff of “Dirrty” and “Can’t Be Tamed,” except even less convincing. (Not that the alternative wouldn’t be terrible in its own way, but it’s so telling how the lyric is careful to specify that the sex-having, good-time-liking hellspawn she’s dating is just a little bit older. You know they sell leather jackets at LL Bean, right?) Everything about “My Oh My” (😑) is garishly, hilariously off-brand, but it’d maybe have a scrappy charm coming from a D-list YouTube tryhard. Why is it instead coming from Camila Cabello and Frank Dukes? Why is this bid for urban radio crossover instead being sent to Hot AC(?!?!?!?)? Why did DaBaby bother making his guest verse so much better than the surroundings?
[2]

Kylo Nocom: Maybe I’m just taking those “hey” chants and running with them, but the otherwise unnecessary last 30 seconds suggests “My Oh My” as potential Mustardwave in a different universe. Good fun regardless, and I’ll be very happy if (when?) DaBaby becomes the next go-to feature for pop hits.
[6]

Nortey Dowuona: Nice, slowly descending bass and slithering synths with popping, dribbling drums that bubble like strawberries in oatmeal, and sharp, trigonometry bars from DaBaby… Oh wait, there’s Camila. She does OK, but the crowd vocals are iffy and weigh down her hook too much.
[4]

Joshua Lu: If you’re going to make a song that’s 50% chorus, could you at least make the chorus less dull? The echoey hook feels shoehorned, and by the fourth go around it becomes actively annoying. DaBaby, bless his heart, does his best to inject the song with some momentum, but the fun of his verse is forgotten once the chorus’ plodding pace overtakes the song shortly after.
[3]

Leah Isobel: Camila’s sweet-and-sour voice lends itself well to good girl posturing, because she always sounds a little bit like a baby. She knows it, too — this is yet another track where she plays the ingenue laid low by love and/or lust, overwhelmed by the force of her own desire. It’s a classic pop idea, but “My Oh My” doesn’t really do much to expand on it; she can barely be bothered to describe the guy she’s supposedly ready to risk it all for, and DaBaby comes off more as a rascal than a threat. One wonders why her parents don’t like him and why Camila herself seems to think it’s sexily debasing to go out with him… oh.
[3]

Oliver Maier: I think, in retrospect, I was having a bad day when I gave “Shameless” a [1]. This is a [1]. “My Oh My”‘s misjudged attempt at a seductive mood winds up feeling like slapstick, with a bassline that shoots for “Camila and her boyfriend tiptoeing around her parents” and arrives instead at “Scooby and the gang tiptoeing around a haunted mansion”. Almost every decision truly baffles me: the back-and-forth on the chorus is lifeless and genuinely unpleasant, Camila SCREAMS the line about being a good girl, offbeat hip-hop “hey”s are stuffed into the final 20 seconds and convey absolutely nothing. DaBaby enters halfway through like a firework set off at a funeral, and predictably sounds like the only person having any fun. 
[1]