TRACK REVIEW: ‘Joan of Arc’ – Little Mix

After the release of the first track from LM5, ‘Woman Like Me’, the self-proclaimed pure feminist message of Little Mix’s upcoming album seemed questionable. But with the release of ‘Joan of Arc’, they get back on track in the most perfect way.

The latest track is a fabulous feisty feminist anthem. The track blends urban-trap and R&B and is perfectly structured to showcase the best of the girls vocals. Jesy and Leigh-Anne speak-sing over the slinky verses and chorus while Perrie bring power to the pre-chorus. Lyrically, the track leaves no question on the feminist angle of LM5 as the quartet proudly proclaim “Hell Yeah I Am” when asked if they’re on that “feminist tip”. Production wise ‘Joan of Arc’ is a blend of the group’s 2016 release ‘Down & Dirty’ and Ariana Grande’s Nicki Minaj collab ‘The Light is Coming’ from 2017’s ‘Sweetener’. In fact the latest LM5 cut has a lot of similarities from the Grande-Minaj track. Both are ridiculously repetitive and it works for both. The repetition on ‘Joan of Arc’ is just as annoyingly catchy as ‘The Light is Coming’ and it works even better as the girls ooze confidence and sass.

All in all, Little Mix’s ‘Joan of Arc’ has their feminist message for LM5 well and truly back on track while sacrificing none of the musical quality that ‘Woman Like Me’ established.

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TRACK REVIEW: ‘Party For One’ – Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen is a lot of things. To some, she’s a one hit wonder. To others, she’s one of pops finest assets. After the astronomic success of ‘Call Me Maybe’, Jepsen was poised for world domination. But it never came. Instead, her follow-up album ‘E•MO•TION’ came and went with little fanfare, despite it being arguably one of the best albums of that year. Since then the album has garnered Jepsen critical adoration and a cult following, with both recognising the pure talent a record like ‘E•MO•TION’. Thankfully, her latest release ‘Party For One’ is on the same level.

‘Party For One’ isn’t particularly unique. The subject matter (self love of the sexual variety) has been tackled to varying degrees of commercial success by Jepsen’s contemporaries such as Charli XCX and Hailee Steinfeld. Instead, ‘Party For One’ relies on Jepsen’s execution of the subject matter to make it stand out and stand out it does. The track hops, skips and jumps playfully in pure bubblegum pop production and Jepsen’s lyrics are a perfect match, pairing sly innuendos about her “party for one” with the poppy track. The cut is a fabulous example of the beauty of pure pop, rather than the current trend of trap-pop that is tirelessly grasping at straws in an attempt not to be labelled a flop.

Instead, ‘Party For One’ is a perfect example of how fabulously a pop song can be when it’s not suffering from an identity crisis. It’s simple, relatable and pure unfiltered pop. And it’s marvellous.

Check out the music video for Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Party For One’ below:

TRACK REVIEW: ‘Woman Like Me’ – Little Mix ft. Nicki Minaj

Little Mix is arguably the greatest girl group of this generation. Nicki Minaj is arguably (although that debate is slightly more complicated given recent developments) the greatest female rapper of all time. So what do you get when you put greatness and greatness together? A little track called ‘Woman Like Me’ is what you get. The lead single off the upcoming 5th studio album from the British quartet, ‘Woman Like Me’ is the first taste of what is described as an album about female empowerment. Unfortunately, ‘Woman Like Me’ isn’t quite the slam dunk of female empowerment one might be expecting.

The track is a fabulous electropop-trap-R&B hybrid with perfect flow and delivery from all four girls (particularly Nelson, whose sultry vocal suits this production perfectly) as well as Minaj, who provides one of her better features in awhile, matching the song’s vibe and message magically.

Despite the near-immaculate production and performances, it is the song’s lyrical content that lets it down. It’s not that the song is particularly poorly written, it’s actually quite a smart cut with an undeniably catchy hook. However, the track isn’t everything it could have been. Instead of focusing on the brilliance of women like the Little Mix ladies, the entire song is built on the bones of asking a man whether he could possibly “fall for a woman like me”.

‘Woman Like Me’ isn’t bad. In fact, it’s a wonderful lead single and it has hit written all over it. It just doesn’t have female empowerment written all over it. It is great to see five strong women embrace and discuss their “insecurities”, but that discussion shouldn’t centre around whether those insecurities are too much for some man to ever love them and then be packaged as some female empowerment anthem. The track discusses a universal feeling of insecurity in a relationship, but it isn’t the rallying cry for females around the world that we are being led to believe it is supposed to be, and, unfortunately, that lessens its impact.

Check out the Lyric Video for Little Mix’s latest single ‘Woman Like Me’ ft. Nicki Minaj below:

TRACK REVIEW: ‘Shallow’ – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

In 2008, a pop phenomenon broke industry record after industry record on her way to the peak of pop culture. With the rise of Lady Gaga, the singer, a star was born. Now, ten years later, Lady Gaga is being reborn – this time, as an actress. After a rocky number of years and interesting career choices, the once pop enigma, has stripped herself of all façade and spectacle, and after receiving raves and Oscar buzz out of the festival circuit for her silver screen, Lady Gaga finds herself in the same situation as she did ten years ago – on a rocket straight to the top of yet another industry. However, she hasn’t left music behind her, instead using it to propel herself once again. The first cut from the upcoming A Star Is Born soundtrack, shows exactly why Gaga became the icon she is today.

While Gaga shines, ‘Shallow’ isn’t exactly the slam dunk that was expected from the snippet used in the film’s trailer, but instead, it is a weird concoction of odd production choices and seemingly unfinished lyrics. The track opens slowly, with the dull roar of an audience, which pops up in odd parts of the song, which results in a jarring contrast between what is obviously supposed to seem like a live performance and the parts that are very obviously the studio recording of the track. Lyrically, the song is nothing special, it’s the same old doomed love song that has been heard a million times over. However, the tracks lyrical construction is also quite grating, never feeling smooth and structured, instead failing to find any structure whatsoever. The first two verses are sung back to back before immediately going into the first chorus, without as much as a whisper of a pre-chorus to be heard.

However, the cut somehow manages to work because of one reason – Ms Lady Gaga. While Bradley Cooper’s country croon is hauntingly beautiful, ‘Shallow’ is a showcase of Gaga’s masterful vocal, which soars and crushes and all the right moments, sounding both strong and vulnerable at the same time. Here, Gaga’s two worlds collide. Her vocals are as much of a musical achievement as an acting performance as each note, each lyric oozes the emotions of her character, and while ‘Shallow’ isn’t quite the crowning jewel in Gaga’s rebirth – or her writing credits, for that matter – she can be damn proud her talent, as both a singer and an actress, is unquestionable.

 

TRACK REVIEW: ‘Bed’ – Nicki Minaj (ft. Ariana Grande)

dfa-mbzvaaaji3lSelf-proclaimed queen of rap Nicki Minaj is not one to be outdone. As she readies herself for her first LP release in four years, she seems to be making up for lost time. After the releases of uninspired lead singles ‘Chun-Li’ and ‘Barbie Tingz’ (which has reportedly been scrapped from the final cut of Minaj’s upcoming studio album, Queen) and the arrival of the equally mediocre ‘Rich Sex’ with Lil Wayne, it seemed that the Queen of Rap had lost her touch. Her latest, ‘Bed’ makes up for it in spades.

Her third collaboration with pop superstar Ariana Grande (who is releasing her own collaboration with Minaj ‘The Light Is Coming’ next week), ‘Bed’ sees Minaj leave the trap production that has become tired and overused in the current rap/hip-hop renaissance and re-adopt the fabulous pop-esque production that made her stand out on her debut efforts.

‘Bed’ is a sexy and sultry summer banger that showcases both artists best strengths. Grande plays up her breathy vocals to add even more of a sultry effect that contrasts fabulously with Minaj’s overt and unrelenting sexuality that is somehow turned up to an eleven on the track. The cut is a major return to form for Minaj and slight sign of hope that her upcoming LP will truly warrant its hefty title.

Nicki Minaj’s Queen will be released on August 10th.

TRACK REVIEW: ‘Dance to This’ – Troye Sivan (ft. Ariana Grande)

dance to this troye sivanIt isn’t often that two of pops finest collaborate. It is more likely to see pop artists collaborate with rappers or with DJs than to see them turn to one of their peers. So when one of these rare collaborations rears its head, it is more than likely a piece of pop magic. From the fast-paced funk of Britney and Madonna’s ‘Me Against The Music’ to the sexy sultriness of Beyoncé and Shakira’s ‘Beautiful Liar’, these rare collaborations are so often things of beauty. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Troye Sivan and Ariana Grande’s ‘Dance to This’.

‘Dance To This’ is a by the numbers synth-pop song, with an odd stuttering track that seems to dominate everything else in the song. Despite its title, the production on the fourth cut from Sivan’s upcoming sophomore effort is sluggish and unmemorable. The lyrics aren’t particularly inspired, which is out of the ordinary for an artist such as Sivan who thrives in the form of quirky hooks and lyrics. However, ‘Dance To This’ fails greatest by not playing to the strengths of the two vocalists it has. Not once on the track is the breathy, airy vocal of Sivan contrasted with the powerful range of Grande instead they merely phone it in, speak-singing over the odd production choices.

If 2018 is destined to give us the next great pop collaboration, then ‘Dance To This’ certainly isn’t it and is a rare misfire for the two talents involved. With its uninspired production, lyrics and vocal performances, it’s hard to believe this track was ever even made, never mind released as a single.

Check out ‘Dance to This’ by Troye Sivan featuring Ariana Grande below and let us know what you think of the track:

TRACK REVIEW: ‘Bloom’ – Troye Sivan

troye-sivan-bloom2018 has been a fabulous year for LGBT representation in mainstream entertainment. On the forefront of that movement is Troye Sivan. Having come out publicly in 2013, Sivan hasn’t held back in expressing his sexuality in his music thus far. That being said, his latest release ‘Bloom’ is, by far and away, his most overt exploration of his sexuality to date – and it’s fabulous.

Production-wise, ‘Bloom’ is a synth-based pop track with a ridiculously catchy hook that marvellously evokes a feeling of bright summer days. However, it’s is the lyrics of ‘Bloom’ that truly steal the show. Co-written by Sivan with Peter Svensson, Oscar Holtor, and longtime collaborator Leland, ‘Bloom’ is made up of perfectly crafted sexual innuendo that immaculately and shamelessly captures gay sex. Sivan doesn’t shy away, telling his lover “Take a trip into my garden, I’ve got so much to show ya” before pronouncing that “I bloom just for you”. The overt sexuality of the song is elevated from just any old song about sex due to the clever writing from its creators.

Overall, ‘Bloom’ is fantastically sexual and fabulously crafted, succeeding on all levels and elevating itself above the crowd through its witty and intelligent lyrics.