Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

PinkPantheress – Just for Me

Perhaps you heard the sound of 2022 here in 2021…


Leah Isobel: “When you wipe your tears, do you wipe them just for me?” is, maybe, the most perfect pop song question that has ever existed. Underneath its plaintive longing is a current of unbelievable cruelty: PinkPantheress hoping, wishing, begging someone to exist only for the specific and private pleasure of her gaze. The song’s knowing humor only makes that ugliness feel stronger and more repulsive. Being trapped by desire is the existential condition that defines the popstar; PinkPantheress is the future of pop.

Crystal Leww: The British youth are in the midst of reviving sounds that made their variety of oontz oontz famous, and at the forefront is PinkPantheress, who sings tenderhearted lyrics with a simple, almost thin voice that almost sounds distanced. Producer Mura Masa has done some version of this story before with vocalists with more feeling and more xylophone, and “Just For Me” feels like more of a straightforward rip than the thrill of creating something new. But I can’t be mad at the kids discovering what was old and making it new again — and ultimately, it’s still a nice moment to hold someone close on a dance floor. 

Micha Cavaseno: In the early UK Garage era of Craig David’s career, so much of his early display of talent was how he attempted to sing in a style akin to the pitched-up/cut-up vocal samples or the proto-grime MC rhythms. The marriage of 2-step’s broken-glass psychedelicism to his natural abilities made him a freakish mimic of the unnatural, like a parrot trying to mimic the sound of vinyl transmutations and give himself that sense of warm and character. Flash forward almost two decades. PinkPantheress’ “Just for Me” takes a twee teen charm a la so many UK dance music chancers such as Monsta Boy, Sadie Ama, Kyla or Princess Nyah, then ups the ante by hyper-flattening her voice into the cyborg coos of vocaloid and the chipmunked giggle of nightcore. Could one look at this soft candyfloss valentine of a song ever demonstrate how much this record is a technological evolutionary astonishment? A soft heart grown tumorous around 21st century mastercraft? How come nobody calls something like this ‘hyperpop’? It’s certainly no less garish.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Pleasure is often thought of as intense and bombastic, but it can also be soft and subtle too. “Just for Me” never reaches a sonic climax, instead basking in its luxurious, quiet comfort. 

Alfred Soto: The powder softness of mid-’00s Annie and discreet snaps and crackles from the poppiest side of dubstep meet in this single, rather too winsome even given its brevity.

Katherine St Asaph: Packs as much sugar into its slight runtime as it can, like a pop sugarcube. No, too slight for that. Half a sugarcube.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: A completely frictionless song — where good garage tracks (and even better PinkPantheress songs) drag you into the groove with arresting sonic elements, “Just for Me” numbs the touch, turning any individual interesting part into just another piece of aural wallpaper.

Scott Mildenhall: A lot of effort seems to have gone into making a video that encourages people to numerically indicate an era they wish they could be nostalgic for — it was even uploaded by an account with a Twilight profile picture. It doesn’t really matter that the surface precision belies unbefitting anachronisms, because the surface seems to be doing most of the work and doesn’t really bear a timestamp — it sounds like PC Music. Catchy and purposefully flimsy, the atemporality is less curious for its familiarity.

Ian Mathers: I only even heard about PinkPantheress thanks to TSJ, and if the number of times I’ve listened to to hell with it since mean anything, I underrated that song at the time. This score isn’t penance, though — over all those listens “Just for Me” more than earned it on its own merits.

Nortey Dowuona: The future sounds a hella lot like my international school years and looks like a elf. I like it a lot.

Oliver Maier: Last year saw PinkPantheress materialise and come into her own with uncommon speed. There’s a deceptive asymmetry between the characteristics of her songs — shy, brief, retro-inspired, sometimes a little rough around the edges — and her level of artistic maturity, which to my ears extends far beyond most other rising stars her age (and many above it as well). If “Passion” made a strong case for her talent unaided by samples, “Just for Me” confirms it, a glimmering 2-step number that crystallises uni-age love in a sad snowglobe. It’s endearing until it’s sinister, and sinister until it’s pitiful, a heartbeat kick drum pumping bleach around the body. I would have run this song into the ground in my little university bedroom in first year, turned it up to drown out the noise of parties upstairs as I thought about girls I barely knew and never talked to. But the beauty of “Just for Me” is that it could just as well have been soundtracking those parties, or the club nights I stupidly avoided, or really played just about anywhere and met with cheers. The way people love this song makes me love it even more; “Just for Me” is, in fact, for everyone.

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2 Responses to “PinkPantheress – Just for Me”

  1. It is good to have the Cavaseno back

  2. “Could one look at this soft candyfloss valentine of a song ever demonstrate how much this record is a technological evolutionary astonishment? A soft heart grown tumorous around 21st century mastercraft? How come nobody calls something like this ‘hyperpop’? It’s certainly no less garish.”

    Wow, a wonderful description.