Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Shawn Wasabi ft. Raychel Jay – Squeez®

“Hey QT”; “Doctor Pepper”; “Cola”; “Goya Soda”; “Soda Pop”; “Soda”; “Pop”; this: which fizzy drink anthem shall reign supreme?


Will Rivitz: The hyper-bubbly electronic pop of Moving Castle and its associated artists is one of the best developments of the past few years. They act like a funhouse mirror for the PC Music camp, in which the latter’s streamlined saccharine perfection is reimagined without a hint of irony — which is to say it’s everything that makes PC Music great without anything that makes PC Music obnoxious. The “Hey QT” comparisons that bubble up with “Squeez®” are obvious, but subject matter and musical stylings constitute pretty much their only proper similarities. Whereas the Sophie/A.G. Cook project presents its product tongue firmly in cheek, ostensible skewering of consumerism oozing out of every nasal vocal swoop, Shawn Wasabi and Raychel Jay treat their central conceit as more a jumping-off point to bigger and better things. It’s not about the soda — it’s about the effervescence and jolts of sucrose, it’s about capturing the childish idealism of a Coke ad sans the cold and calculated marketing goals, it’s about making things meant to be shared. Detached irony is the absolute worst, and bless Shawn Wasabi’s heart for recognizing that.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The rare song from a semi-popular YouTube person (albeit, one whose channel is focused on music) that makes me think, “Ok yeah it’s kind of cool that this random no name was able to make a song and get it out there to a wider audience.” It’s cutesy, PC Music-lite pop that’s mostly charming because of its low stakes context. Raychel Jay’s voice is limited, but that’s kind of the point, right?

John Seroff: Video may have Killed the Radio Star but YouTube got kids out here auditioning to make jingles. Raychel Jay and her ly-ly-lyrics are frankly bad but, if I’m reading the cultural tea leaves correctly, that’s all the better to chant along with? As someone who identifies as pro-pop music but anti-Pop Art, I’m torn as to whether this sort of blithely infantilized effervescence is more or less preferable to PC Music’s vacuum sealed formalism. I guess the fact that I keep hitting replay answers my question. 

Alfred Soto: “Squeez®” has the effervescence of Savage Garden’s “I Want You” but lacks the bubble pop electricity of what the average K-pop star would’ve injected in the first verse.

Taylor Alatorre: Shawn Wasabi’s music is first and foremost about giving the listener a good time, but he goes a step further than your typical mash-up artist in finding ways to wring genuine pathos out of pop cultural detritus. Amidst the ricocheting ruckus of “Marble Soda,” a message faintly emerges: these songs, these shows, these websites you waste your time on are not incidental to your experience of the world; they, and the connections formed through them, are integral to it. Maybe not the kind of thing a Burkean conservative or orthodox Marxist would endorse, but it speaks to something real and abiding, even if it’s through the language of silly memes. On “Squeez®,” Wasabi leaves the borrowing behind and sets out to codify this ersatz humanism, with the help of a performer who seems to intuitively understand his vision. Raychel Jay is more girl-next-door than powerhouse vocalist, which is all too appropriate for a song where the stakes are kept deliberately small. She dispatches an intrusive thought about rent like it were a pop-up ad, and her emotional peak comes in the form of the line “can we date ’til it rains gingerade.” The latter is part of a commitment to beverage puns that’s as whimsical as it is dizzying; I had to look online to make sure this was a real drink and that I wasn’t just mishearing “ginger ale.” It’s at this point where I’m supposed to mention that these are all thinly veiled sexual metaphors and the entire song is an analogy for a no-strings-attached relationship, which is not wrong. But the lewdness is filtered through such a thick layer of lyrical abstraction and repetition — “pop pop pop pop POP pop” — that it ends up sounding entirely chaste, almost to the point of incorporeality. Pair this with the affably antiseptic production and one begins to get the idea that this may just be about a delicious summer drink after all. You might even go a step further and say that, with its simultaneous acceptance of sexual maturity and avoidance of its coarse biological implications, “Squeez®” could function as a rare but necessary example of an asexual pride anthem. It’s doubtful this was the intent, but that sparkling violin outro is open-hearted enough to embrace just about any interpretation you want to give it.

Crystal Leww: Shawn Wasabi’s Mixmag Lab set in late 2016 felt like the last bits of a wave of dance music that was committed to being weird and fast but still good. The LA EDM scene really sunk very deep into various nostalgia waves over the last few years from straight up pop punk to brostep. “Squeez®” sounds like some kind of strain of PC Music pop, leaning more heavily into the dance side, but without the pretension of that crew circa 2013. Shawn Wasabi has the ability to be thrilling at times (the videos of him playing with a Midi Fighter are incredible), but this is like eating an undercooked s’more — too fluffy and a little cold. 

Will Adams: I remember when Four Loko was a thing: a nefarious alcoholic beverage that would get you fucked up. It was banned in several states upon the discovery that combining stimulants with malt liquor is pretty dangerous. Eventually, in the early ’10s, Four Loko returned to shelves but without the caffeine or guarana, and no longer marketed as an energy drink. This happened just before I started college, and before I started drinking. As a rowdy college kid I felt a slight twinge of regret for never being able to try the original concoction. Sometime after my 21st birthday, I bought my first can of the new, safe version of Four Loko. Turns out that even with all the harmful, insidious crap removed, it still tasted awful.

Reader average: [4.5] (2 votes)

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2 Responses to “Shawn Wasabi ft. Raychel Jay – Squeez®”

  1. Was not expecting to be the only low score on this tbh

  2. I finally figured out what the opening reminds me of.

    It’s the midpoint between Betty Who’s “Heartbreak Dream” and “Fireflies”