Friday, May 15th, 2020

DaBaby – Find My Way

Blue, DaBaby?


[Video]
[4.17]

Alfred Soto: The rogue hasn’t lost his power to charm, and when his awkward warble spills over a “No Scrubs”-like guitar squiggle I remember what made Blame It on Baby a car staple last summer; but the secondhand narcissism’s starting to get tatty. 
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: That perfunctory guitar loop plays in full 19 times throughout “Find My Way”; 38 if you count its two near-identical halves separately. A demonstration, at least, of what would have happened if “E”-spurnrs Marshmllo and Ann-Mari had rjctd “FRINDS” for “TDIOUS”.
[4]

Oliver Maier: “Find My Way” scans like an attempt to prove that DaBaby can carry a lowkey cut, only it backfires when it turns out that he absolutely cannot do that; his autopilot flow over latin_guitar_type_beat.mp3 is unrelentingly dull. Stick to the pyrotechnics.
[2]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Even if Blame It on Baby was as interesting as the other two albums DaBaby has released in the past year, “Find My Way” would still be the fourth or fifth best track. As far as singles go, everything that “Find My Way” tries to do, “Rockstar” does more raffishly. 
[5]

Edward Okulicz: DaBaby is still somewhat compelling, but it’s difficult to feel compelled by two minutes of something as dated and perfunctory as “Find My Way.” He sounds as bored of inevitable sex (“I end up slidin’ in, okay”) as I am by that guitar preset, which makes this sound like it could have been released in 2000, not 2020. Per the lyrics, DaBaby has obviously never played Tetris in his life, either.
[4]

Thomas Inskeep: The guy can rap, I can’t deny that.
[5]

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Shiva ft. Eiffel 65 – Auto Blu

“Blue” is the colour of all that we hear…


[Video]
[3.50]

Tim de Reuse: There’s something incredibly funny about sampling a cultural monolith that exemplified the least well-remembered trends of nineties eurodance and turning it into something more stilted, more acoustically strained, and less catchy.
[2]

Scott Mildenhall: Going by Nea’s “Some Say”, Miss Li’s “Komplicerad”, Gradur’s “Ne Reviens Pas” and now this, “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” has achieved Pachelbellishly Canonical status, with everyone (at least four musicians) wanting a piece of its timeless folk song qualities. For Shiva’s part, he has every right to it, honouring a national classic with a reinvention for an audience that, like him, were not born when it first emerged. Trying to decipher “Auto Blu”‘s context from afar is a familiar affair — a petition to ban it here, anxieties about a youth who think it’s an original there — but cynics be damned, it appears to have found unifying status once more. As well as workaday lines about actually being a bit of a baller thanks very much, even a non-Italian speaker could pick out the newly introduced onomatopoeia and alliterative gibberish. Shiva’s not reinventing da ba dwheel, but he does provide a fitting tribute.
[7]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: I was feeling some déjà vu so I had to check: indeed, we just covered another romance language interpolation of Eiffel 65’s “Blue” a couple of months ago. Comparisons are damning, but this manages to feel stale and joyless even when judged on its own merits. 
[2]

David Moore: One of two riffs on Eiffel 65 that I’ve heard so far this year, stronger for being more direct, like a kid singing along poorly to the radio. But, in an artistic decision chosen no doubt to enrage me and maybe a select few others personally, the vocals remain resolutely and inexplicably just flat of the actual key, even after applying the requisite shissel of Autotune.
[4]

Alfred Soto: I mean, really, “Blue” wasn’t that good to begin with. Resurrecting it twice in one year to apply one generation’s Eurocheese orthodoxies to a previous one takes some gumption.
[1]

Katherine St Asaph: I owned Eiffel 65’s Europop, which means several full 24-hour days of my life were spent listening to deep Eiffel 65 album cuts, which means I can state from experience that there’s no unfuckwithable sanctity to the music of a group whose other songs involve “sexual browsers” or “P-L-A-Y-S-T-A-T-I-O-N!” Or if there was that sanctity, it was already defiled more than 10 years ago by a Flo Rida interpolation, by something called “Bud Light Blue,” by Goofy, by probably like nine million TikToks and 90 million memes. But as much as the ratio of shitpost to sincerity makes Jeffrey Jey an inadvertent zoomer troubadour and “Blue” particularly appealing to 2020’s nostalgists (see also: “Rasputin”), “Auto Blu” isn’t really that kind of thing. It’s a couple Italian guys sampling some other Italian guys’ hit with authentic, irony-free bluster and jank. I’m not convinced the backing track isn’t a MIDI these guys found autoplaying on someone’s Angelfire site. 2020 really is 2000.
[5]

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

Major Lazer ft. Marcus Mumford – Lay Your Head on Me

You know, crediting MØ would continue the alliteration you’ve got going, which after all is at least as twee as this song…


[Video]
[3.00]

Katherine St Asaph: The post-2020 world seems very much like a world where tens of thousands of people will no longer congregate on packed festival grounds, there not so much for the billed artists (or, in MØ’s case, the unbilled) but the feeling, the refracting of trite lyrics into hourlong transcendence through the prism of tens of thousands of sweaty, drunken bodies. Gone, probably, are the days of vibing, of Major Lazing, perhaps willing someone nearby to internalize these words and lay their head on them (without knocking over the watercooler-cup-sized beer or sriracha tots). So why do we still need songs like this? To hear a better take on “every single choice in your life has led you here” — one that understands the manipulative fucked-upness to the sentiment, and also the allure — seek out Fiona Apple’s new, excellent “I Want You to Love Me.”
[3]

Michael Hong: Genre mashing is best when it’s bold, where there’s a sense of risk to the work. Here, Major Lazer and Marcus Mumford sound terrified of the idea of intruding on each other’s space.
[3]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: This is as awkward and tawdry as one could have predicted just based on the conceptual pairing, but I’m most befuddled by the credits. Why is MØ not credited despite being a co-writer and clearly singing on the track? You’d think that after being the driving force behind Major Lazer’s largest hit, which has garnered billions of streams, she could be treated as an equal. Furthermore, why is this attributed on Spotify to “Major Lazer, Marcus Mumford, [and] Diplo” when Diplo is already ostensibly part of Major Lazer? Is his ego really so large that he needs to be credited twice?
[1]

Alfred Soto: Denying MØ a “ft.” credit seems churlish when her harmonies add the pathos missing from Marcus Mumbleford’s frosted shredded wheat croon and guitar plucking. For curious listeners, I beg you not to watch the video: the dancing will toast your nose hairs.
[3]

Katie Gill: The song in the music video is SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING than this. Not because of the dance challenge, but because of the brief snippets of violin, harp, marimba, and flute that turn a relatively boring song into this absolutely beautiful cataclysm of noise. But I suspect it’s a logistical nightmare to produce an actual mp3 version of the music-video version, so I guess radio and internet DJs will have to settle for Major Lazer being as mediocre as he can be.
[5]

Tim de Reuse: It’s disappointing that the collage of instrumental snippets presented in the music video is completely absent from the “official” streaming versions of this track, because it’s the only thing here that’s sonically interesting or thematically appropriate. Without the messiness of its international collaborators, “Lay Your Head on Me” is nothing but corporate inspiro-pop meshed effortlessly with the hyper-real folksiness of Mumford into a come-together anthem for car commercials. In any other year it’d be inoffensive, but in a post-celebrities-singing-imagine world, its anti-politics are irritating.
[2]

Scott Mildenhall: There’s a symmetry to the man who popularised the Rednex acoustic remix leaning on Major Lazer, but in the event, it’s a symmetry about as challenging as you might find in an infants’ school maths class. “Lay Your Head on Me” is a square cut down the middle, and not even diagonally. It hasn’t been shaded in, and no shiny mirrors have been provided to enhance appreciation of its effect. It doesn’t seem to want to have an effect. It knows it is a square, and is probably aware of how much can be done with a square, but is instead content to merely be one. Try to lay your head on it if you will, but hold out little hope — as an even more foundational maths lesson will tell you, a square is two-dimensional.
[4]

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

Kelly Clarkson – I Dare You

The midpoint of “I Choose You” and “Dare You to Move,” and not just verbally…


[Video]
[4.14]

David Moore: A fun conceit for a single, wherein Kelly Clarkson releases an EP’s worth of alternate-language versions with uniformly strong guest vocalists offering varied interpretations. Lucky for us, the song is solid (ah, a Natalie Hemby co-writing credit; go listen to Puxico!) — a driving, if understated, wind-at-the-back empowerment anthem, mercifully free of EDM-adjacent squiggles and wordless post-chorus diddling.
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: I suspect a lot of Clarkson’s remaining audience views this as a contaminant, but it’s amazing how even the lightest of donks and the most heavy-handed of reverb can turn a stodgy inspiro ballad, one with slow dull piano and Sweetgreen whoa-ohs and all, into something with a semblance of pulse and mystique. Or maybe a little bit of the alchemy’s because — not that you’d know this from the mixing — Kelly is actually singing.
[6]

Will Adams: It’s not that inspiro-pop is a fundamentally flawed medium — nor is it that bad a fit for Clarkson — it’s that the arrangement is so flat and leaden it makes 124 BPM feel like a chore.
[3]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: The lyric video is an uncomfortably apt metaphor for the song: a montage of families, handholding, and hearts, so generic and lifeless you might imagine they were selected by an intern who was given a Shutterstock account and told to be “woke” in the most inoffensive way possible. (Even the choice of fonts is upsetting.) This aims to be inspiring, but sounds as cynical as one of those commercials from large corporations praising their essential workers as heroes, while simultaneously failing to provide them with PPE and surreptitiously undermining their right to unionize. 
[1]

Katie Gill: Maybe this can replace “Fight Song” as the go-to “can be reinterpreted to be about Jesus if you squint” inspirational song to play in trailers for movies like God’s Not Dead or I Still Believe.
[4]

Scott Mildenhall: Kelly Clarkson sounds very settled into this secular psalm. The conviction she has always performed with is perfectly suited to its quasi-evangelism, but though she can sell her passion for just about anything, she can’t necessarily elevate leaden material. Where “I Dare You” should soar, it often fizzles out, with some flat transitions out of the chorus in particular. The multilingualism is admirable, does not feel like an empty gesture and would make RedOne blush, but it wouldn’t be bad if he came aboard for a remix.
[5]

Alfred Soto: I don’t care that her career’s been inching toward this lazy, hazy speechifying: it still smarts. 
[3]

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Playboi Carti – @ MEH

Hey @playboicarti….


[Video]
[6.00]
Wayne Weizhen Zhang: As a thought experiment, just for a second, imagine what this would sound like if Carti perfectly enunciated every word. (Trippy, right?) And then, imagine if every other song was enunciated just like Carti is doing here. (Even trippier.) Conclusion: enjoyment of “@ MEH” is negatively correlated with the amount of words that you can actually understand.
[7]

Tobi Tella: Bohemian Rhapsody for dudes who get high before their finals and ask “where’s my hug at?”
[3]

Julian Axelrod: Playboy Carti raps like a caffeinated toddler over beats that burst like shaken up soda bottles, so naturally his songs explode with energy. But exhausting as that could be, Carti’s spent years stripping his bangers of  excess weight to deliver pure, uncut endorphin rap. “@ MEH” is one of his most streamlined transmissions to date, a dizzying rush of 8-bit birdcall and buzzsaw synths that wind Carti back up when his string runs out. I don’t understand a word he’s saying, but parsing his bars is a fool’s errand. It’s thrilling just to trace the curlicues of his voice, feeling it warp and snap and double-knot around your synapses until it burrows into your brain.
[8]

David Moore: Remember when new songs used to get released to file-sharing sites in 30-second snippets that looped over and over again in some kind of conspiracy to… I mean, what was even the goal there? Was it simple trolling, or could you “follow” people on Limewire or whatever? I don’t remember! God, I really can’t remember. What would someone have thought of this song showing up on Napster in 2000? In that sense it is “futuristic,” I guess, how no one in 2000 would have had any idea what the hell this was or who it was for. It reminds you that this is the future, the one we couldn’t have imagined. This song would have made Kid A sound like Shania Twain. (Shania Twain sounds weird now. It’s so much! Remember when you could just do that? Be Shania Twain?) Why is this song making me think about the year 2000 so much? Is it because time itself has become a shapeless loop, making “@ MEH” the perfect song IN THESE UNCERTAIN TI — wait, hang on, is this what Playboi Carti usually sounds like? This sounds wrong, right? I don’t remember him sounding like this? There’s so much I can’t remember! The song just started again for the tenth or eleventh time in a row since I started pecking at this blurb — I deleted a whole section on the digital blorrrrrrps of a poorly-ripped MP3 and when people used to record from their soundboard so you heard their IM notifications throughout the song, but hey I guess it’s back in now — and I still haven’t parsed a single word in this song. I don’t have any idea what this song is, it’s like I’m hearing it 20 years ago. What will things be like 20 years from now? What are things like now? Have things always been like this? No… no, things were different, once.
[6]

Oliver Maier: The sugar-rush beat combined with Carti’s most incomprehensible performance yet makes for a magical first few listens, but “@ MEH” wears thin after a while. It would be easy to chalk this up to gimmickry, but that’s not quite the issue; it’s more that the track is circuitous in a way that feels less purposeful than usual for Carti. Normally he drives in donuts until he can see stars. Here he just sounds a bit lost.
[5]

Edward Okulicz: The word “meh” is really a modern linguistic marvel. It just drips its own meaning, from sounding like an incomplete thought itself, to being an emphasis of “eh” to begin with. It suits this song, which is honestly just incomprehensible yelping, which defeats the point of yelping really. More than anything, it just feels monotonous. You could cut from like a minute in to two minutes in with a mouse click and there’s a good chance you wouldn’t notice a beat or word out of place.
[4]

Jibril Yassin: The allure of Playboi Carti is watching him strike that perfect note found between carefree and vacuous. “MEH” manages to sound more confident than repetitive. Surrounded by all these playful blocks of sound, Carti comes across as a menacing trickster; his voice cuts through to tease the listener before returning to the ether. It’s not immediate the way his best tracks are but it confounds and rewards you all the same.
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: I’ve liked his contributions to other’s records (Solange, Tyler, the Creator), and I like this, even though I’m not sure I “get” it. The toy piano-ish track is hella earworm-y, and Carti’s voice is kinda just another instrument on the record. Sticky.
[6]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Carti’s incomprehensibility gambit is starting to lose its luster — here, he doesn’t do anything all that interesting with baby-voice, and there’s even less use in trying to get meaning out of the deciphered words. But, sonically, Jetson’s bass and Neeko Baby & Deskhop’s jittery synths serves as a perfect companion to Carti’s style. “@ MEH” sounds wired, but the spark is only temporary.
[6]

Nina Lea: I can’t remember the last time, or any time, I listened to a rap single and immediately thought, “bubbles!” Because that’s what “@ MEH” creates — a sonic landscape unlike any I’ve heard in the genre. The xylophone synths float upward like shining soap bubbles in the light, reflected in the way that Playboi Carti aspirates the p’s in “police” and “pussy.” There’s a texture to this soundscape that feels rare and startlingly pleasing, like the first time I ate jellyfish and rolled it around on my tongue, or the small jelly orbs at some boba shops that pop when you press them between your teeth. How strange, how new, how rippling with delight.
[8]

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Little Mix – Break Up Song

No longer just potential


[Video]
[6.75]

Katie Gill: We really are in a synthpop pseudo-’80s renaissance, huh. Maybe it’s just because my radio continues to play “Blinding Lights” and I’m always a sucker for some Robyn sounding synths, but this seems really familiar. However, it seems weirdly familiar in multiple ways. The verses are these stereotypical pseudo-’80s synths and handclaps, the chorus is stereotypical Little Mix: loud with lots of vamping with any sort of interesting harmonies hidden under muddled mixing. Still, I’m stereotypical pop music trash, so I find myself enjoying this despite the absolute nothing it brings to the table.
[6]

Edward Okulicz: A break-up song with no friction, no evidence of investment or regret, and instead more or less just a blast of pop energy. You could change the lyrics so it’s about still being in love, or about eating a really nice piece of cake, or winning the lottery. Everything is so sleek and agreeable that I’m compelled to tune the message out and sing along, and hope that I don’t accidentally sign in to a work Zoom call while doing so.
[7]

Scott Mildenhall: The self-awareness of the title line could almost be read as acknowledgement that it’s tough to sustain hits after a near-decade of them; continual, big hits at that. Being strictly in the line of that idealised, power-pop impression of ’80s music, this may not quite be anything a Little Mix single has been before, but at the same time, it is something many other artists’ have. As well-crafted and catchy as it is, it feels very route-one. “Break Up Song” was always unlikely to go down as one of the group’s best-remembered, but that doesn’t help. The strange thing is that somehow, if it were a debut single, it may have been that bit more indelible.
[7]

Michael Hong: Despite the fact that this really is “just another break up song,” another slice of radio fodder derivative of the ’80s, it’s so unobjectionable, so clean, that I wouldn’t have a problem leaving the station on a little longer.
[6]

Nina Lea: What I think distinguishes “Break Up Song” from all the recent eighties-inspired, synthy bangers is the way that Little Mix brings their greatest assets to bear upon the genre. Girl groups have fallen out of vogue, but I always find Little Mix to be a brilliant reminder of why these acts work — multiple distinct voices that, when combined, make you feel more than they would standing alone. Unlike other recent artists who we’ve docked for delivery, the girls of Little Mix have always refreshingly, guilelessly, and earnestly poured emotion into their vocals. It’s the difference between listening to a song by yourself in your bedroom and listening to that same song with all of your friends when you’re getting ready for a high school football game. The euphoria! The yearning! The ache! Yes, breakup songs “that play on and on and on” might be a well-trodden genre, but I wish they were all like this every time.
[8]

Katherine St Asaph: Ersatz Carly Rae Jepsen is a much better sound for Little Mix than ersatz 5H — and not just her, call this “Blinding ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ Video Lights,” maybe. Melody, harmonies, and vocals are all diamond-polished (maybe a bit too much, if anything; Jesy is almost totally vanished). And there’s a breathless pulse to this, thwacking a little too hard and running a little too fast, that suits them, or maybe just suits me. But I still kinda want Salute back — let me repeat that, I want Salute back.
[7]

Alfred Soto: I have nothing invested in Little Mix. Perhaps #thenewnormal has deepened the poignancy of regrets-I’ve-had-a-few tracks when the stacked harmonies and electronically syncopated beats sound like identikit K-pop. 
[6]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: A flawlessly constructed, if soulless, means to an end.
[7]

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

Bonus Tracks for Week Ending May 9, 2020

Friday, May 8th, 2020

Sam Smith and Demi Lovato – I’m Ready

OK, whenever you’re ready


[Video]
[3.56]

Alex Clifton: This song confounds me on a number of levels. Why do the verses sound transplanted from a Selena Gomez song while the chorus turns into something from a musical? What the hell are Sam and Demi looking for in their lovers? Sam wants “an achiever” while Demi wants “a defeater,” so I’m imagining these love interests being very good at homework and video games, neither of which sounds terrifically appetizing. The main disconnect, for me, is the fact that the song seems to be going for a sexy and uplifting vibe simultaneously, but keeps switching modes. Either give me a song about how you’re ready for your dirty sinner lover and all the naughty things you plan on doing with them or one about how you’re finally ready to love someone because you love yourself. A bit of a shame as Smith and Lovato do sound quite nice together. I will say, however, that Smith looks like they’re having the absolute time of their life in the music video, which I’m pleased to see. Just wish I could feel that same sort of enthusiasm for this song.
[3]

Scott Mildenhall: Note to future cultural historians: Eurovision 2020 did happen, and this was the UK’s entry. Where else could such a corny chorus have been crowbarred into a song so moody and swaggering? Part “Soldi”, part “A Million Voices”, and seemingly unaware of its own silliness, “I’m Ready” offers much to have fun with. The earnestness is winning.
[7]

Alfred Soto: It may have “Maneater” and “Maniac” in its bloodstream, but it also has blood poisoning. Pompous, without humor, and ambitious because it’s unsure about itself, “I’m Ready” refuses to move. Two overqualified singers can’t belt lines like “I’ve been lookin’ hard for a lover disguised as a sinner/No, not a cheater, a redeemer/He’s a cold-blooded defeater” without falling into the orchestra pit, although, presumably, the choir will help them up.
[1]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: On “I’m Ready,” Sam Smith and Demi Lovato’s attempts to communicate genuine readiness for love come across as craven, awkward, and heavy-handed. They’ve borrowed Ariana Grande’s songwriting team but are unable to replicate any of her panache. I’ve described songs as cringeworthy before, but few songs have made me actually physically cringe.
[2]

Nortey Dowuona: Super-turbo trap pop that neither flatters Sam’s whisp of a voice or Demi’s super cannon of a voice.
[4]

Michael Hong: The unpredictable: an industrial beat that works hard to not let the track slip into the mundane. The slightly predictable: Sam Smith and Demi Lovato fumbling at the handoff — a declaration of “I’m ready” shouldn’t also proceed with such a drop in momentum. The completely predictable: Smith’s penchant for a choir on the final verse lessening whatever emotional impact the song was supposed to have by drowning out both and leaving the track on the road to nowhere.
[4]

Oliver Maier: Smith rejects their promising recent dance-pop direction in favour of a paper-thin Greatest Showman cutThe flavourless Lovato is an inexplicable feature pick. I think there are also some lyrics? I’d have to double-check.
[3]

Claire Biddles: The structure of “I’m Ready” is so baffling that it’s almost avant-garde. Each time I anticipate a drop the song changes in a completely unexpected way, switching from PG-rated sci-fi R&B to sort-of trap to… a gospel chorus? This isn’t good, though — it’s just a collage of four middling songs at the same sluggish pace, giving the listener whiplash every time it threatens to lunge forward and doesn’t. Put an extremely corny beat on the chorus and this might be a [5].
[3]

Will Adams: The martial throb in the verse evokes “Ready For It,” and both Smith and Lovato sound compelling against it. Then the chorus arrives. The faux-gospel leanings aren’t terrible, but the problem with a repeated “I’m ready!” hook is that it brings less to mind an empowering mantra than it does Spongebob.
[5]

Friday, May 8th, 2020

Haru Nemuri – Riot

Appraising an uprising…


[Video][Website]
[6.14]

Claire Biddles: Where Haru Nemuri asks: what if maximalist, genre-shredding pop was earnest and warm instead of intimidating? There’s such a gorgeous balance between stream-of-consciousness (both in the music and Nemuri’s performance) and huge primary-coloured melody here that it manages to be both oblique and welcoming. “Riot” sounds like a thousand things but it mostly reminds me of shoegaze, and the endless possibility inherent in maximalism. 
[8]

Ryo Miyauchi: I can’t listen to Haru Nemuri as leisure. It’s not that her music is too challenging to entertain or drained of fun — “Riot” offers her most pop hook yet, with her twirling around humming the titular refrain. That hook, though, is more sugar-coating of a pill that could be hard to swallow. The simple sing-along quickly gets into her rushed lyrics, now approached at a new angle to push her tried-and-true “punk loop and poetry” formula forward. More than that, it tricks me into thinking that this will be easier to sit through emotionally than anything off of Haru To Shura, which she sang as if her life depended on it. But no, Haru Nemuri is just as intense and desperate for her words to get to you in time. If anything, she’s more aware of her earnestness, slightly worried that she’s embarrassing herself, that her deep faith in the power of music is a bit silly. But she commits anyway because it’s better to look foolish than do nothing at all if it means she can save even one life from falling into darkness.
[9]

Leah Isobel: Nemuri’s vocal delivery is somewhere in the realm of Perfect Pussy spoken-word hardcore, but the crystalline mix favors sugary keys and synth tones over dissonance. The death-obsessed lyrics point in a more interesting direction.
[6]

Ramzi Awn: “Riot” offers a welcome dose of cacophony, and Nemuri’s agile voice carries the track well (it’s more of a track than a song, per se). The synth loop in the background resembling a disintegrating orchestra paints a vivid picture, and the verses feature some neat chord work. But the chorus is not well-equipped to withstand the barrage of sound and fails to deliver a strong hook. Though the single boasts compelling sonic textures and a sweet dose of new age in the bridge, overall it’s a bit cute for a riot. 
[5]

Joshua Lu: The instrumental is beautiful and the rapping is satisfyingly dextrous, but the way they’re layered awkwardly on each other makes it feel like I accidentally opened two YouTube tabs simultaneously. It’s an improper fraction of a song, and I’d prefer something more wholly integrated.
[5]

Tobi Tella: Whoever decided to mix pop rock from 2008 and Selena Gomez-esque talk singing should be tried for crimes against music.
[3]

Michael Hong: All across “Riot” is confusion. The instrumental line sounds slightly off and the quick-paced spoken word of the verses is just as dizzying as it is joyful. Things don’t suddenly come with clarity when Haru Nemuri launches into the chant of the title, instead joining in with the chaos, as if finally feeling carefree enough to bounce around in the crowd.
[7]

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé – Savage Remix

Emphasis on the “classic”…


[Video]
[8.20]

Tobi Tella: 2020 BB (Before B): Loose, playful, and catchy in all the right ways;  reappropriation by 14 year olds on TikTok shouldn’t count against a song’s value. 2020 ABB (After Big B): Still in shock, probably the peak of music. I’m tempted to move to Houston right now.
[9]

Thomas Inskeep: Last month I said that the original version of “Savage” “commit[s] murder,” and then Beyoncé came on board? I don’t care who wrote her verses, because I love love love when Mrs. Carter raps — she has flow. That said, Megan has even more flow; she’s fast becoming a superstar (in part) because she deserves to be a superstar. The simple beat of “Savage” complements both Megan and Beyoncé’s lines just so, and in their hands this becomes an awesome tribute to H-Town (the city, not, well, H-Town). Savage indeed.
[9]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: The mere existence of this article and this tweet alone merits this remix at least a [7].
[7]

Leah Isobel: Beyoncé said sex worker rights.
[9]

Alex Clifton: Megan brings enough swagger to kill a horse, and Beyoncé is her usual grand self — she doesn’t even need to bring the swagger when her name is goddamn Beyoncé Knowles Carter. To score a Beyoncé feature before dropping your first real album is quite the accomplishment, and she’s great here, turning the volume up to 11 and keeping time with Megan’s rap game quite easily. I’ve listened to both versions at least fifteen times, and I’m still very much into it. Hell, I’ve tried to learn the TikTok dance for this, which is difficult as I normally dance like Lorde. (The only bit I can consistently get right is the hands on my head “acting stupid” movement.) A weird-ass quarantine meme to be sure, but it’s the kind of fun I need right now.
[8]

Alfred Soto: An excuse, no more or less, for a demonstration of above average rapping given by a charming outsized personality. Beyoncé, who contributes nothing of note, acknowledges the prowess on display.
[7]

Nortey Dowuona: Beyoncé smoothly glides into the jump rope synths and Pringle can drums mixed in…. {here the writer trails off to watch Bey jump to fit her jeans on}. Megan keeps leaping back and forth with Bey while Bey just loops around each fiber and lifts Megan into the heavens with each priceless trill and vocal fill.
[10]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Every time Beyoncé raps we are given to speculate as to her skill — is she better than her duet partners? Her husband? Migos? These discussions miss the point entirely — Beyoncé’s goal while rapping is not to be good at rap but to be good at being Beyoncé, to envelop the rest of the track with her energy. On “Savage,” she does this with tactical excellence: she’s here at least three times, chiming in with verses in different styles and adlibs throughout. Part of the appeal, of course, is hearing Bey, who has mostly been playing towards timeless legacy and high art, reference OnlyFans and Demon Time. But even beyond that incongruity she still sounds commanding. And yet the “Savage” remix isn’t as triumphant as it could be. The song, once a spare exercise in Megan’s charisma, feels overstuffed as a duet. It’s fun, but it feels a little too mandatory to be that fun.
[7]

Will Adams: The original’s charm was its simplicity: just an A+ hook with knocking bass and two clustered chromatic chords. Sacrificing an ounce of that in favor of additional elements would seem egregious were it done by anyone other than Beyoncé. She’s in classic form on this remix, so full of ideas — a cooed “okay!” hook; memorable lines by the dozen — and more than adept at deploying them. That means there are some misses — the melodic contributions, in particular, clash at times — but overall this is a top entry for Song of the Summer That Never Was.
[7]

Nina Lea: Even in these dark times, nothing gets a girl going like the first real contender for Song of the Summer. Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé have given us a dream collab, the kind of fantasy pairing that makes sense on such a fundamental level that it feels like the goddess on high cracked open the skies to drop this track into our laps. The original “Savage” was catchy, punchy, and viral, but the reworking propels it to another stratosphere. Beyoncé sounds like she’s having the time of her life, tossing in winking references to Tik Tok, Demon Time and OnlyFans, shouting out her mother, and floating sweet harmonies over everything. Fellow Texan Megan Thee Stallion’s new verses prove that she can hold her own. We might be heading into Our Pandemic Summer, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be Hot Girl Summer 2.0 at the same time.
[9]