Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Lil Nas X – That’s What I Want

It’s what we want too!


Tim de Reuse: I’ll never totally love Lil Nas X’s musical body of work, because he sticks to production tropes that aren’t my taste — this tune, in particular features an acoustic guitar manicured into a flat, noisy mess, and the chorus is small and plasticky when my gut tells me it should’ve been big. But I’ll set my pet peeves aside for someone who is willing to write so directly about both the particular desperate intensities of being a man trying to find another man, fighting against statistical realities and a lost youth. Few artists, even among the independent gay artists I adore, write affirmations as raw as “That’s what I fucking want!” That is a line I have to tell myself constantly, when family second-guesses me or when I’ve had a particularly unlucky month; for all the ways in which I might personally wish this song were different, it’s just damn nice to hear someone else shouting it too.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Effervescent and earnest machinations of a new queer canon, one which feeds the soul with the immediacy of an IV bag of gay vitamins hooked up to your veins. 

Ian Mathers: Unlike the more morose “Sun Goes Down”, the music here doesn’t really reflect the tone, the deceptively sunny strum and handclaps underpinning something between despair and frustration. (It still goes, of course — you know who we’re listening to.) He’s right (and he should say it), especially considering the really monstrous wall of shit Lil Nas X deals with on a regular basis, but he’s also pretty far ahead of the game; this is a pretty good articulation of a healthy and reasonable expectation for an actual partner, and dude is like 22. It’s good that this is what he wants (and what many of us would want for him too), but the slight friction between the genuinely unfair barriers he’s got to deal with that many don’t and the fact that only the luckiest don’t have to wait a little longer than this for something truly good spins away at the heart of the song, only torquing it up further.

Nortey Dowuona: There’s something adorable about a massive pop star starting his prospective hit song with a 4 count. There’s something adorable about singing “you gon be ok and everything is all right.” There’s something adorable about the fact that the song pauses for him to sing a 2 bar bridge in a world where bridges are long gone. This whole thing is adorable and beautiful.

Edward Okulicz: Lil Nas X isn’t honestly much of a vocalist, but he is an absolute master of hooks and more than competent at the filling. This is a fully realised mantra in a couple of minutes, easily enjoyed in full but also perfect for sound bites or captions on obnoxious GIFs. Honestly it’s a huge shame that one day he’s not going to be so young and brazen. If they ever work out the secret to eternal youth, they better give it to Nas here. 

Will Adams: Lil Nas X’s vocal limitations are both a hindrance and an asset to “That’s What I Want.” The propulsive, hooky pop-rock arrangement deserves a vocalist to match its energy, but he falls short. On the other hand, the central “That’s! What I! Fuckin’! Want!” works far better as gulped, strained high notes rather than a proper belt, like he’s yelling his frustrations to an empty night sky. Perhaps the first time I’ve felt genuine catharsis from him.

Alfred Soto: With “Hey Ya” in its rhythm and “Homosapien” in its interior, “That’s What I Want” is Lil Nas X’s best song because it’s so horndog-happy to worry about silly shit like originality or plagiarism. Except no male artist snuck “need a boy who can cuddle with me all night” over hard strumming before, and no male artist yelled ‘THAT’S WHAT I FUCKIN’ WANT’ hoping he doesn’t masturbate himself to death every night.

Andy Hutchins: The magic is in that takeoff between “I want” and “Someone to loooove me!” That’s where “That’s What I Want” best transcends the nuts and bolts of excellent pop music and aspires to be truly special instead of settling for anthemic. But the synth line that rises like a dolphin from the ocean in that moment has had diminishing returns for me — it could be twice as loud and/or bright — and so this is settling into merely being another gripping performance from the person whose ability to surf the wave of American pop culture without bailing is as impressive as his chops with melody, rather than the favorite to be my favorite song of the year.

Reader average: [8.75] (4 votes)

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2 Responses to “Lil Nas X – That’s What I Want”

  1. This is fuckin’ adorable. Not adorable, mind you, very specifically “fuckin’ adorable”.

  2. The gay agenda is working

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