Friday, October 13th, 2017

Agnez Mo – Long As I Get Paid

This is your Friday editor’s outlook on her job, as well.


[Video][Website]
[5.50]

Tim de Reuse: The thumping, stark, tonally frozen backdrop: an entrancing, monolithic backdrop for Agnez’s sinister sing-song. The triply-chipmunked, robotic hook: a choice that makes some sense stylistically but pushes it a mile too far, completely wasting the sense of menace that the verses build so effectively. The inclusion of the line “finger-fucking diamonds, baby”: questionable.
[6]

Alfred Soto: There’s something going on besides the chipmunk vocal manipulations — ominious synth rumble helps — but “Long As I Get Paid” settles on its hook as if someone’s nerves gave out. There ain’t much else.
[5]

Nortey Dowuona: Fuzzy synths, distorted bass, Agnez on the auto-tuned vocals, baby repeated hook, weak drum programming again. Shrugs.
[4]

Ashley John: Agnez Mo is opulent with her voice, the production, the video. The switches between synths and the echoing distance of her voice make fill up the space while the lyrics hang limply throughout. “Long As I Get Paid” is a lot, but it isn’t much of anything good. 
[3]

Iain Mew: Taking in the pop music of the world filtered only by playcount, I sometimes wonder if I’m overappreciating the extreme and novel. My thrill at “Long As I Get Paid” and its combination of ice cream van chorus, aggressive synths, and not-100%-sure-its-not-a-bad-upload production is one of those moments. It’s so unusual and exciting, though!  And, in fact, not only novel, since there’s plenty in its sonic approach which I could trace my love of back to Lady Gaga and beyond (I can imagine the “sex and lace on my face” bit slotting right into “Judas” or similar) even before finding out it’s produced by Danja. The closest comparison for its twisted update is maybe FEMM if they’d dropped the concept baggage, upped the vocals and gone to source. Though even they wouldn’t have gone as simplistically appropriative as some of the lyrics here, the only part giving reservation as this loops round my head again and again.
[7]

Anthony Easton: Bleak, gorgeous, and amorally slick, an example of pop being as a malleable, post-national category of formal excess–just chuck everything together, every sound, every vocal effect, shove a hard third generation Timbaland drum into the mess, and hope everything is stable. I never quite know if it is a warning about ambition, or aspirational. The spiky, childish, modulated vocals add a Toxic (as in Brit Brit) sheen. 
[8]

Friday, October 13th, 2017

DAOKO x Kenshi Yonezu – Uchiage Hanabi

Sounds like Radwimps, and scored almost the same


[Video][Website]
[6.00]

Patrick St. Michel: DAOKO has been kicking around for a while now. She released journal-like whisper rap songs at the start of the decade before slowly morphing into a genre-blurring act channeling the likes of Japanese rock group Sotaisei Riron or covering netlabel anthems. Recently, she’s eyed a crossover, dabbling in many sounds but not quite getting there. Alas, her breakthrough comes via a ballad trying to ride the exhaust from last year’s Your Name. “Uchiage Hanabi” works better than the other half-dozen songs tied to animated films from the past year trying to recreate Radwimps’s success, partially because the song works in off-kilter percussion that mucks up the cinematic sheen a bit, and partially because the other artist credited here knows his Radwimps really well. But this is still a J-pop ballad, and it can only be so good when it follows a very predictable path musically and emotionally. It’s probably the worst possible intro to DAOKO and her much more interesting back catalog (which she’s already returning to sonically on her latest single), but here’s hoping it at least prods more people to explore what she’s about. 
[4]

Ryo Miyauchi: DAOKO’s chase for alternative cool as a major-label artist has given diminishing returns in the past few years, so her dive into the super-contemporary with this anime film tie-in is actually a welcome one. Cheesy as it is, the summertime romance opens a tender side that she might’ve brushed away on her own output. The season-exclusive theme as well as its overall novelty doesn’t provide this song with much mileage, though you could’ve said the same about its sort-of predecessor “Zen Zen Zense.”
[6]

Stephen Eisermann: All of my favorite animes (“Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Seven Deadly Sins, etc.) end with songs that manage to always feel empowering and that is so important when you know these shows will be viewed all over the world. Truth is, I stopped looking at the lyrical translations immediately after hearing these songs because often enough, the bombastic production choices were sufficient to make listeners feel the expected emotions. This song is no different and even before viewing the lyrical translations I knew the song was about a romance and the fight for keeping another person happy. It sounds romantic, I feel invested, and I want so badly to be the girl that Kenshi is singing to and for.
[7]

Edward Okulicz: Despite the text, this song in no way evokes fireworks. Not a bit. Almost nothing in life, be it a pop song, a first kiss (or any kiss), a surprise, a moment of laughter, feels like fireworks; it’s just a cliche. But the hammy lushness of the outro, littered with la-la-las, is a near-endless and endlessly replayable pleasure, more a lovely sunrise than a fleeting firework. Good vocal interplay from DAOKO and Kenshi Yonezu, too.
[8]

Alex Clifton: A pretty enough song with some nice vocal interplay, but a song about fireworks needs to have a bit more energy. The verses do actually evoke the languid summer night described and while the chorus is gummy enough, I don’t have a sense of bombast. If you’re talking about this sort of yearning, you need to go big or go home; sadly, this song never fully achieves either despite its potential.
[5]

Nortey Dowuona: Soft, understated piano, smooth synth bass, slight guitar and soft strings sliding over pumped drums. Both DAOKO and Kenshi acquit themselves well, especially since Kenshi seems to be immediately stymied by weak drum programming.
[6]

Iain Mew: The filtered guitar bits are gorgeous and the guile-free sweep of strings and dual voices makes me smile. If it feels at times like they’ve hit on good moments by throwing everything at one song until something sticks, it’s still an approach with plus points.
[6]

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Calibre 50 – Corrido de Juanito

Norteno’s biggest stars – more hashtags, more T-shirts, less controversy


[Video][Website]
[6.86]

Alfred Soto: An embrace of identity without a trace of jingoism, “Corrido de Juanito” depends on the sweetly modulated trill of that accordion.
[7]

Stephen Eisermann: A terrific Norteño track detailing the life of a man who crossed illegally and his life through his eyes. This song hits harder and hurts more because of the current climate we live in, and coming from a family where both of my parents were raised in Mexico and my maternal grandfather told us he crossed illegally by hitching on to the bottom of a train this feels all too familiar. Fortunately for me, my family taught me Spanish first and made sure to always remind me and my siblings/cousins that we were Mexican-Americans, but Mexican first and to never lose that part of our heritage. I am so thankful they did that because I know far too many people who, like Juanito’s children in this song, have shed their culture and language and have trouble empathizing or even communicating with their adult, Spanish-speaking parents. It’s all frustrating and sad, but the call out to the numerous crosses in the desert near the US-Mexico border is especially devastating when you’ve heard about those crosses before in your life. Even so, the song manages to end with Juanito committing to see his dying father one last time, throwing caution to the wind, knowing damn well he missed out on so much of his family due to his longing for a better place — one he freely admits wasn’t all that it was chalked up to be.
[10]

Ian Mathers: Certainly this kind of narrative is, for lack of a more graceful phrase, on the right side of history, but it oompahs along with the kind of folk-music stateliness that both makes it feel more Important, even a bit timeless, and sucks some of the life out of it. Not that a song like this needs to be “fun,” but it doesn’t need to be so pokey either.
[5]

Josh Langhoff: Despite its #MexicanoHastaElTope kicker, Calibre 50’s latest immigration story sounds more defeated than immediate precursors like Adriel Favela’s “Me Llamo Juan” (everyman comes to the U.S., struggles through poverty and odd jobs, starts successful company) or Calibre’s own “El Inmigrante” (everyman comes to the U.S., suffers various humiliations, starts successful string of “-ado” rhymes). It also sounds more defeated than Sparx’s chipper Clinton/Zedillo-era ranchera murder ballad, but we’ll say their “Corrido de Juanito” is not a precursor, at least until Calibre songwriter Edén Muñoz corrects me. The defeat resides partly in Muñoz’s melody, rising hopefully before collapsing into perpetual sighs; partly in the slow tempo and settled-in length, unusual for a radio corrido; but mostly in Juanito’s sadness at missing his family and feeling like an outsider everywhere, even around his own English-speaking, El Norte-born children.
[6]

Crystal Leww: To the surprise of my friends who watch streaming numbers, Latino acts sometimes rack up crazy numbers on YouTube. This is surprising, until you consider just how many people are in Latin America. Calibre 50 are one of those acts that rack up crazy views on YouTube, and it reminds me of a time when I was a child running around neighborhoods in Texas. This is music meant for a different time, or at the very least with a grill going.
[4]

Rebecca A. Gowns: Listening to this song puts a lump in my throat. It’s the story of my family; the story of Los Angeles and the people who live here; the people in my neighborhood of Echo Park, some of whom have lived here through generations of Mexican-Americans, who are feeling the squeeze of pressures on all sides. The rent is too high here and the wages too low. English is incredibly difficult to learn, let alone to speak without an accent. Immigrants want to live with other immigrants and 2nd/3rd generation Mexican-Americans, we want to have our community, but our communities are being increasingly displaced by corporate interests and yuppie landlords. And yet, in many cases, there’s nothing to return to in Mexico — the wages are even lower, the opportunities even less. So one has to stay and make do with what one can, hundreds or thousands of miles from the land that’s embedded in the soul. Calibre 50 manages to get all this across in much fewer words than I can, with an economy and grace of storytelling that comes from the richest depths of folk song tradition. I only wish anti-immigration ideologues could learn Spanish and hear this. I want them to feel the lump in the throat, the pull at the bottom of the gut, the cactus needle pressing against the heart.
[10]

Edward Okulicz: This is a lovingly written emotive song, and sung richly, but the real power didn’t become apparent until I read the translation. “My children are big…they do not speak Spanish” says one verse, and that section makes sense as a poem, as if to assert one’s Mexicanness is half pride in one’s identity and half ruefulness in seeing that identity not passed down, or passed over by your children. That reads incredibly sad, but doesn’t sound it to me. As a non-Spanish speaker, the fault’s with me for hearing the accordion and gently oompahing rhythm as a sting of pain that time or liquor might heal, over a song about a sadness that I don’t think ever heals. Some may cry to it, I can only sway.
[6]

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Halsey – Bad at Love

But I hear Halsey is secretly very good at tenpin bowling, so there’s that.


[Video][Website]
[5.75]
Katie Gill: Today on Cheap Joke Theater: well love’s not the ONLY thing she’s bad at.
[4]

Rebecca A. Gowns: This is the bi representation we need (even if it’s not what we deserve): a girl who’s dithering, jealous, bad at love, but wanting love! The lyrics are messy and tough in that 2017 confessional vein, which feels like both oversharing and calculating at the same time. (Which also feels very bisexual? Speaking as a bisexual.) I wish the music had a bit more drive to it; as it is, the tune is almost as loopy and vacillating as the lyrics. For all its appealing attributes, it also kind of just trudges along, so it’s not exactly a great candidate for replays or playlists.
[7]

Alex Clifton: Anthemic but not as cathartic as it should be. “I’m bad at LOOOOOOVE!” should feel like a release, but from Halsey it feels like she’s screaming what she thinks others expect from her. The open bisexuality is a nice touch, but this is a real letdown after the emotional rawness of “Strangers,” easily the best track from Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. Amidst the twinkly production, Halsey’s actually never sounded sweeter, but this track demands more vulnerability for it to catch on.
[4]

Stephen Eisermann: When describing this song, Halsey said she wanted to song to sound like Leonardo DiCaprio in  a Hawaiian T riding down the highway in a convertible with friends (I’m paraphrasing here). I… don’t see that when listening to this track, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nothing about the song strikes me as breezy or fun, but more cathartic, like an old friend venting to you about four previous relationships where something went wrong. It’s an interesting basis for a song and Halsey’s natural tendency to fit a lot of words into a verse works in favor of the track. The muddy production frames the lyrics well and it all meshes into a song that manages to both engaging and gloomy, even if she likes to describe it as something that sounds, frankly, fun and upbeat.
[7]

Joshua Copperman: While it came out first, “Bad At Love” sounds like the more compelling version of “Too Good at Goodbyes.” But while Sam Smith never gets specific about much of anything, Halsey is honest to a fault. Over a sparse beat, she traces her history from a high school crush in New Jersey to a brief London fling; both are given equal time with a girl she lost to “little white lines.” If that sounds slightly clunky, the album also has “Runnin’ lines like a marathon/Got it all white like parmesan,” and the lyrics here are some of the best Halsey’s written yet. Just as I’d hoped from early songs like “Gasoline” and “Control”, Halsey finds a way to directly write about mental health and its effect on love in a way deeper than her *tri-bi* catchphrase; “I know that you’re afraid I’m gonna walk away/Each time the feeling fades.” The beat is restrained in a way that the lyrics aren’t, which makes the tension in the lyrics even greater.
[7]

Alfred Soto: After the buzzing psychodrama of “Strangers,” Halsey returns with another: a love triangle with a drug-addicted woman in Cali and a boy who tastes like Jack someplace else. Not singing like a zombie counts as a virtue if you’re a woman aiming for pop radio play in 2017.
[6]

Edward Okulicz: The plainspoken, open verses flip genders of romantic partners like it’s not even noteworthy, which is itself noteworthy. I love how her voice drops on the “’cause” when she says “always make the same mistakes ’cause” and from there, the song should either lift off or revel in its wounds. But the chorus is clumsy, like a scream of impotence, and what it’s screaming sounds too much like an apology.
[6]

Will Adams: Again, I appreciate Halsey for being visibly bisexual and not skirting that via gimmicks — the first verse is about the guys she’s been with, the second verse switches the pronouns without any fuss. I guess I’m still waiting for the nexus of that much-needed voice with good pop writing, or in “Bad at Love”‘s case, how not to take your powerful, declarative hook and weaken it with an unsupportive chorus.
[5]

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Paloma Faith – Crybaby

Don’t cry Paloma! It’s your best TSJ score!


[Video][Website]
[6.00]

Claire Biddles: Paloma Faith approaches “Crybaby” with big ambitions: Challenging toxic masculinity and wondering if “things [would] be resolved without attack and with measured discussion” if men were allowed to express their feelings without the pressures of patriarchal society. Which is great! It’s an important issue that feels particularly heated in this contemporary moment. But her attempts come off as half-hearted at best and after-school-special at worst: Super inoffensive disco-lite is paired with corny phrasing like “Don’t have to man up/That phrase kinda sucks.” There’s of course a bigger conversation about politics and its place in pop to be had, and it’s not Faith’s responsibility to “be political,” but I wish her good intentions were matched with musical or lyrical conviction. 
[3]

Alfred Soto: I didn’t expect a song called “Crybaby” to sound this ebullient, nor did I expect the late ’70s Philly sound — all piano, clipped guitar, and kick drum.
[7]

Stephen Eisermann: A groovy track with a great message about the power of a good cry for, yes, even men. It’s fun and refreshing, but the production could definitely afford to be turned down a bit as Paloma’s voice struggles sometimes to even be heard.
[6]

Edward Okulicz: The song’s not as good as its writers’ intentions, but in meshing together some easy listening lite disco adult contemporary (i.e. it sounds like Taylor Dayne’s version of “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love” — yay!) with a message, Faith is more believable than usual. The chorus is rote like a store-bought card of condolence, but it’s hard to block out the good vibes on this one. Maybe the amiable arrangement works to the song’s detriment, you could bop along and not really read into The Message That Is The Point, which I hope was accidental. Because someone inside the machine that made this song cares.
[7]

Iain Mew: It’s lush in a more comfortable and enjoyable way than her previous singles, and the topic brings a bit of novelty to a quite traditional production. When it comes to encouraging your man to show emotions, Hello Saferide has done it much better, but that’s not really a fair standard. I don’t think it’s too unfair, though, to ask that a song that righteously has a go at “man up” shouldn’t then say what “a real man” does, even in aid of a different standard to the norm. Can’t we take all this stuff apart instead of just redirecting it?
[5]

William John: “Crybaby” is about as relaxed as Paloma Faith has ever sounded; nurturing, wryly smiling, encouraging unshackling, and serving warm disco. Quite why it was decided that it needed to be paired with a video that borrows more than a few aesthetic cues from The Handmaid’s Tale is still a mystery, but when that mystery is solved, I hope it doesn’t muddy the pure breeziness of the song itself.
[7]

Will Adams: If you really want to see me cry, play me Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Cry,” a far better song about the pain a man’s emotional disengagement can cause both parties. What won’t make me cry is an “I feel ya!” lecture about toxic masculinity that’s undermined by lines like “a real man shows his feelings.”
[4]

Ryo Miyauchi: “Crybaby” comes off too self-serving for it to truly mean well. Paloma Faith claims herself as an ally through a stale take on a cliche — “don’t have to man up/that phrase kinda sucks” — and the wittiness calls attention more to her than the real problem.
[5]

Rebecca A. Gowns: This is actually something new. Rather, it FEELS like something new. Yes, it’s got all the elements of the stuff that came before; it’s a disco re-hash, it’s a pop amalgam, it’s got a dash of Jackson 5 here and a dash of Michael Jackson there, but mostly it just sounds… refreshing! Re-imagined! I’m willing to believe this might just be the same old water marketed as alkaline island water fortified with electrolytes, but at this very moment, it tastes just how it looks on the tin. Superb!
[10]

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Gucci Mane ft. Migos – I Get the Bag

Our first time revisiting him on the left side of the ft. since 2010


[Video][Website]
[5.17]

Julian Axelrod: Gucci served three years in prison. Offset served eight months. And even before prison time put them on hold, the careers of Migos and Gucci Mane were riddled with drug abuse, label neglect and all sorts of legal trouble. Which made their return all the more triumphant: a genuinely heartwarming story of four underdogs going through hell and coming out on top. So why does everyone involved with “I Get the Bag” sound so bored? Everything about this just sounds exhausted, not from years of struggle but from a marathon year of guest spots. (I wouldn’t be surprised if this was just a stitched-together collage of rejected verses for Selena or Katy.) For all their talk of wealth and decadence, Gucci and Takeoff’s bars mostly recall the mutterings of an old billionaire as he shuffles around his empty mansion. Even the beat sounds expensive and boring, like the Metro Boomin equivalent of a $500 white T-shirt. Gucci Mane and Migos have had their ups and downs, but at least they used to sound like they cared.
[3]

Ashley John: In the impressive flood music of to come from Migos and Gucci in the past few years, “I Get the Bag” does nothing different, but nothing wrong either. The song could easily be the product of an algorithm trained on the two’s past releases, with a heavy bias on Quavo’s recent hooks.
[5]

Alfred Soto: It’s disappointing to hear Gucci reprise the cadences from his guest appearance on Migos’ “Slippery,” and it’s also disappointing that “I Get the Bag” sounds like nothing more than two parts sutured together: mildly entertaining drug fiction and an unevenly cadenced triumphal march.
[5]

Jibril Yassin: Needs more Offset to give this upgraded “Slippery” some more heft, but that’s why we have Gucci, who seems closer and closer to his pre-prison rap form with each new verse, his laconic delivery giving way to something more refined and rapid. Meanwhile, Metro Boomin seems permanently stuck in gloom and doom mode; his 808s, punctuated by dashes of minor-key synths, recall his recent collabs with Gucci in all its menacing glory with each steady pulse. 
[7]

Ramzi Awn: Gucci’s groove is undeniable to the point of perfection, but Migos can’t quite keep up. Where he dribbles the beat, Gucci’s narrative is crystal clear from the start. If Migos had stripped it down a bit and put Mariah on the verse, this single would have the softness it needs to highlight Gucci Mane’s ability. 
[6]

Andy Hutchins: The post-incarceration hypercompetence of Gucci continues, as he out-Takeoffs Takeoff — but it takes so long to get there that this feels like the nouns on either side of the ft. should be flipped. Quavo may have devised and recorded the hook in the same hour he did the hook for “Slippery,” given the trace job he does on the second half of his hook there for the second half of his hook. Points awarded for Takeoff somehow rhyming fender, Kris Jenner, “game of temple” — 2017’s best and least explicable reference to a long-forgotten app — and Jimmy Kimmel over several bars. Points deducted for Southside’s barely-there beat, Gucci bragging about masturbating for no reason other than because “masturbate” and “fascinate rhyme,” and the irony of Offset being left off a song far, far less vital than “Bad and Boujee.”
[5]

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Mabel ft. Kojo Funds – Finders Keepers

Uncontroversial then, uncontroversial now, albeit at a somewhat higher level…


[Video][Website]
[6.50]

Ashley John: “Finders Keepers” uses this summer’s classical tropical flare and injects it with an icy distance. Kojo Funds lends a nice balance without bumping the pace the wrong way. Mabel’s voice is beautiful while delivering punches like “don’t feel like you need to try and love me” to stomp on the contrived boundary between the good girl vs. the bad girl. She’s both at once and surely isn’t asking for your opinion. 
[7]

Will Adams: With the silky synths of early AlunaGeorge and the sparse handclap percussion of Lumidee, Mabel links two sonic worlds with a warm vocal. The issue with subdued club tracks like these is that they tend to meander, but while “Finders Keepers” is no exception, it’s still lush enough to stay invested.
[6]

Eleanor Graham: Personally, I don’t need much more from a song than warm-toned piano, a clap-and-stutter beat and Mabel telling me she likes me, but not enough to leave Zone 1. 
[7]

Rebecca A. Gowns: Nothing brings me chills more than “IT.” Not the movie — the pronoun, as it’s used here, used as a stand-in for girl, sex, this, that and the other. Mostly it’s (IT’S!) being used for “love interest,” as played by Kojo Funds, who refers to herself as “it” (IT!) over and over again. The song sounds fine, but man, does it bug me.
[4]

Stephen Eisermann: The slick rhythm that the song is constructed around gives the song such a good foundation that it would be hard to mess up. Thankfully, Mabel is up to task and delivers a sultry R&B number that manages to be both provocative and empowering — something that feels especially powerful in today’s social climate. Kojo Funds’ introductory verse sets the stage, letting Mabel slide into the track easily and without hesitation. Her voice dances on the rhythm seamlessly, and her charm is endearing, especially on the verses. It all flows well and makes for a good listen, even if the beat feels like the strongest part of the song.
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: ME: “The problem with pop in 2017 is the increasingly unchallenged reign of pleasant, competent tracks by women never given a chance to be anything but interchangeable.” ALSO ME: “You don’t need to stand out when you’ve got the Diwali riddim.”
[7]

William John: Though she extols the virtues of detachment here, there’s something admirably committed about Mabel’s vocal; she navigates the Diwali riddim and the undulating synths framing it aplomb, such that the song could easily be mistaken for a romantic gesture rather than to instigate momentary pleasures.
[7]

Iain Mew: Nothing particularly new in these late night vibes, but the chorus and how she sings it is elastic enough to keep it stretching out in appealing ways. 
[7]

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Craig David – Heartline

Producer goes uncredited, decades of musical precedent suddenly come off as a shocker…


[Video][Website]
[4.14]

Alfred Soto: Thus another vet succumbs to the trop house siren call.
[3]

Scott Mildenhall: Craig David revivalism, what hath you wrought? At this stage, his succession of singles with their hitmaking producer given artist credit are at risk of merging into one. Jonas Blue hasn’t even got his name on this, and yet it still seems more like his than a CD solo effort. It wouldn’t be a problem were it not so much weaker than the interchangeable “Ain’t Giving Up” and “Nothing Like This,” so naff as to make “World Filled With Love” blush. And “World Filled With Love” was kind of good! Given a choice between this and preposterous odes to Instagram, it’ll have to be the latter.
[4]

Stephen Eisermann: “”Heartline”” manages to sound like both a throwback and trend-chasing, which is both a good and bad thing. Craig David’s voice naturally brings on nostalgic feelings due to his time in the industry, but parts of the song sound dated. Other times, it feels like Craig has managed to find the perfect modern composition, but even when the production plays well with his terrific voice, it sounds generic: a stale song, sung well.
[5]

Iain Mew: Craig David tries his best, but he is really wasted on another retread of Jonas Blue’s limited ideas. 
[5]

Will Adams: With all of the neon signs pointed at the drop, there’s no room for Craig David to shine despite being the lead artist. The chorus shows some initial promise, but then he’s made to rush through “putmyheartonthelineforyou” before we’re treated to Jonas Blue wringing his flute patch dry.
[4]

Andy Hutchins: Sub-boyband midtempo songwriting over a reheated, sub-DJ Mustard tropichill beat from the guy whose contributions to Earth are bad Bieber karaoke and a worse bastardization of a great song does not create a good song. Shocker. Craig David is only 36; the shameless trend-chasing is unbecoming at any age, though.
[4]

Edward Okulicz: Craig David’s best records are fun. They are slick and good to dance to, and have charm and character. Elevating a sort-of trop house thing should be a cinch for someone like him. But he’s drowning in the waves with this one.
[4]

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Christian Nodal ft. David Bisbal – Probablemente

Let’s end the day with some balladry, shall we?


[Video]
[5.83]

Josh Langhoff: In the grand tradition of “Somethin’ Stupid,” a young boot-flaunting star teams up with a respected singer who’s twice as old to score a second #1 hit, in which the singers depict a let’s-say-undefined romantic relationship. There are differences, though. In “Probablemente,” teenaged Christian Nodal sounds at least twice as old as David Bisbal; “Probablemente” also has more accordion; but whoever played guitar for Frank and Nancy got to strum something less stupid than straight 8th notes the whole time.
[3]

Alex Clifton: At 18, Christian Nodal is certainly making a name for himself — “Probablemente” stands out for its simple vocal interplay between Nodal and David Bisbal. It feels like Nodal is aiming for something more timeless than his stateside peers, and for once it’s nice to have a teenager who’s not attempting to be the next Ed Sheeran or Chainsmokers (or both). Nodal’s voice is pleasant, plays well with Bisbal’s veteran vocals, and the song itself is gentle, albeit unstructured; there’s the vague hint of a chorus, and the song drags on for a minute longer than it should. A breezy, charming tune, although I’d love to see what this kid can do with a few more years under his belt. 
[5]

Alfred Soto: Mariachi with the graceful, passionate anonymity at which the genre excels, but with a transcendent moment when David Bisbal reminds listeners of what’s at stake.
[7]

Hazel Robinson: “What the fuck is this,” I just heard myself audibly whisper. I guess… I guess it’s great that someone is catering for the market of the 80 German pensioners I was once trapped on a boat trip in Croatia with, who would be down as heck for this. But accordion mid-speed balladry? I am afraid it is most certainly a no from me. 
[3]

Stephen Eisermann: A stunning mariachi ballad led by Christian Nodal whose is complemented perfectly by David Bisbal. Truly, the strums of the Spanish guitar accompanied by the provocative trumpet and the playful accordion make for a superbly romantic canvas and this allows the lyrics to paint a heartbreaking picture of a man longing for a lost love. Furthermore, the vocal back and forth between Nodal and Bisbal fits the music perfectly, as the ache in their voices colors the song with a melancholy blue making it hurt all the more. Beautiful track, beautiful instruments, beautiful voices, beautiful song.
[9]

Rebecca A. Gowns: In the spirit of an old bolero: a simple song sung well, with plenty of accordion to serve as the romantic rose fondant on top of the cake. You don’t need much more than that!
[8]

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Post Malone ft. 21 Savage – Rockstar

Now holding the distinct honor of being runner-up to “Bodak Yellow” for three weeks in a row!


[Video][Website]
[4.57]

Crystal Leww: Right as Cardi B was making noise for being the first woman since Iggy Azalea to go #1 with a rap single, Post Malone was quietly holding the Triple Streaming Crown (credit to David Turner for that one) — #1 on the Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud charts. The dude is very popular, and “Rockstar” reminds me so much of “Studio,” the 2014 Schoolboy Q song that was everywhere on rap radio that year. This basically exists in the background without offending, but it also doesn’t make much of an impression either. It will be wildly successful, and I will always change the channel when it comes on and I’m driving.
[3]

Julian Axelrod: If anyone should be celebrating their unlikely pop stardom, it’s these guys: a silky-voiced scumbag who looks like Spring Breakers‘ Alien getting bar mitzvah’d and a dead-eyed, monotone murderer who makes no concessions toward rap’s weirdo vanguard. Both rappers have had a truly bizarre rise to fame, and you can’t begrudge them for wanting to bask in their success. But you can definitely begrudge them for doing so in the most boring way imaginable. This sounds like Savage and Malone read Motley Crue’s The Dirt, skipped all the interesting parts, then recorded their verses without ever saying a word to each other. The song is hypnotic in its simplicity, to the point where I find myself singing it throughout the day to the tune of, say, a rusty air conditioner. It’s not their best work, but it does its job. After all, it’s not like these guys became famous for nothing.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Self-pity over echo.
[3]

Hazel Robinson: I mean, it’s got the cover art I’d associate with the early work of a band that became suddenly huge circa nu metal and a bit of the sound — it’s hard to tell if this is deliberately, hypnotically looping or just a bit low on ideas. However, I’m listening to it in the office while working late; if I were hearing this in a club after six white wines, would I be freaking OUT about how good it was to dance to? Heck yes, I would. Drunk me did the scoring.
[7]

Stephen Eisermann: This has the makings of a good track, but my god these lyrics are bad. Post Malone comes across as a middle-schooler bragging to his friends about being able to attend a high school party, but less in the endearing way and more in the oh-my-god-stfu kind of way. It’s jarring and beneath him, especially considering the track itself is a cool, laid back composition, and his voice has just enough Auto-Tune applied that he actually sounds… well, cool. It’s a shame, then, that these terrible lyrics bring down an otherwise interesting production.
[4]

Anthony Easton: I have nostalgia when rockstars were supposed to be having fun, and not nearly this misanthropic, ennui dripping boredom, all the pills downers, and all the sex mostly chemical — it might be political if they were smart enough.
[5]

Ryo Miyauchi: Post Malone pours one out for Bon Scott, but spiritually, “Rockstar” should light one more for Kurt Cobain, because there’s no glamor to be heard in Malone’s antics. He has debts to a few more icons: his hazy party rap scrubs away any thrills in recreational drug use like Future’s Dirty Sprite 2; his Auto-Tuned declaration as rock star has nothing against Lil Uzi Vert’s. And like those two rappers, the lifestyle just sounds like an exhausting charade of recklessness after the next.
[5]