Well he says he was always looking for exits…
Scott Mildenhall: Jason crumples to his knees in another night’s rain, his baby name dictionary lying desolate by a grate, and he simply remembers, once again removed from a situation and reduced to fantasy. “Cheeeyyyyennnnneeee!” He’s in his very own movie, wondering helplessly why no-one else can see. The reason for that is that this is actually a song, but who needs visuals with something already so vivid? The electrothrob applied is one of the most reliable sounds in pop, and he seizes on it like few but the man behind the lost-love-maintains-respiration-maintaining-pain trauma of “Breathing” could. The intensity is present and beguiling.
Edward Okulicz: Derulo sings “I never meant to fall in love” like an over-dramatic walk to the electric chair in a TV movie, and the name “Cheyenne” like he’s already sitting in it. The gritty throb of the backing here is perfect for a song that might as well be the guy in “Style” leaving in anguish after a weekend, wishing for more.
Brad Shoup: “Style” in the bass, a little “Rosa Parks” in the refrain’s phrasing, Hüsker Dü’s “Diane” in how he sings the name (that’s my bad) and “Style” everywhere else. Obviously I’m on board; this is driving music.
Alfred Soto: With Robin Thicke unfairly condemned to purgatory and Justin Timberlake in a lab mixing chemicals for the next branding, Derulo emerges as the best kiddie funk love man. It peaks early. “Cheyenne” opens with the thud of sequencers and adrift rhythm guitar and builds toward a self-mocking hook, “All I ever wanted was some fuuunnnn,” whined like Barry Gibb waiting for a late chauffeur.
Thomas Inskeep: State-of-the-art pop that pops and throbs like the Knight Rider theme. “Cheyenne” vaguely references the ’80s, but could only have been made in 2015.
Josh Love: I’ve managed to basically ignore Derulo’s entire career up to this point, so he hasn’t been able to torment me the way he’s tormented (judging from his prior Jukebox scores) many of my colleagues. That said, this is an undeniably infectious song; I particularly like Derulo’s weird, whining delivery of “All I ever wanted was some fun,” including the way he draws out those last two words to emphasize the slant rhyme.
Ramzi Awn: The eclectic influences backing “Cheyenne” are too many to count, and it’s built like a brick house. The track thumps to the beat of a different time — not to mention Derulo’s voice, which soars like the guitars behind him.
Anthony Easton: Disappointingly not about the world’s biggest rodeo, but a gorgeous house track with an even more gorgeous pointillist coda and a voice as slick as product from an international conglomerate — but one of the hip ones, more Uniqlo or Muji, less Ikea.
Alex Ostroff: I still don’t have a handle on who Jason Desrouleaux is as a pop culture figure but despite this he’s quietly become one of the few R&B guys able to cross over with consistently good songs. “Cheyenne” draws on the same era of Michael Jackson as a lot of The Weeknd’s joints, but with most of the venom and creepiness drained out. What’s left behind is a beautiful, vaguely ominous aura. It isn’t as immediately hooky as the perfect “Want to Want Me” but it’ll linger in your ears long after the radio’s moved on to lighter fare.
Will Adams: Amazing what some vocal coaching will do. Before, Derulo sounded like a giant nose; now he’s riding the disco falsetto trend better than Nick Jonas, Adam Levine, and Taio Cruz. “Cheyenne” is tightly wound and well-written on its own, but in a rare occurrence for pop, the level of melodrama provided by both the vocals and lyrics match.
Maxwell Cavaseno: Its a credit to Derulo’s savvy that he saw that The Weeknd would help him re-re-re-re-re-re*slaps the record player*vive the MJ lane again for some additional mining. And much to his credit, unlike The Weeknd, he isn’t wholly dependent on a narcotic haze gimmick. Instead, Derulo avoids the cliches and hangups of revision and launches straight for possession, playing up the vocal with a mock creepiness that goes into “Thriller”-like melodrama for serious paydirt. To think that I like, let alone am impressed by a Jason Derulo song in 2015…