TRACK REVIEW – ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ – Ariana Grande

No Tears Left To Cry Ariana Grande

It has been two years since the release of the lead single off of Ariana Grande’s third album, Dangerous Woman. In what is a relatively standard amount of time between album cycles, the 24-year-old has been to hell and back. After the horrific bombing that claimed the lives of 22 of Grande’s fans, the pop star put together one of the greatest shows of positivity – and one of the greatest shows of resilience – the world has ever seen in the form of One Love Manchester.

Now, less than a year since the tragic event, Grande’s positivity and resilience is once again on show for the lead single from her fourth studio album and first since the tragic bombing. The track, which could have easily been a somber and reflective ballad, is instead a bouncy and determined slice of pop perfection that, instead of looking back at what could have been, looks forward with a sense of determination while still remaining respectful and acknowledging those lost.

‘No Tears Left To Cry’ fabulously showcases Grande as a vocalist, manifesting as a big, diva-tastic dance-pop track that fluctuates from high notes in the chorus to instantly catchy talk-singing in the songs verses and post-choruses. The lyrical content takes a cliché message and repackages it as shiny and new. Overall, the track is a fun pop song that carries a bold message that ultimately enables it to rise above its peers.

Check out ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ and let us know what you think below

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TRACK REVIEW: ‘Home’ – Matt Gresham

HomeThere is no shortage in supply of guys with an acoustic guitar in the world, and all of them are vying to ride the coattails of Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes to the top of the charts. On the surface, Matt Gresham’s ‘Home’ sets him up as just another guy with an acoustic guitar. Below that surface, however, is something more.

With an undeniable hook that worms its way into your mind and refuses to leave, ‘Home’ repackages a tired trope that has been an unavoidable staple of music since the late 2000’s. The production is a magical blend of acoustic and tropical EDM that co-exists beautifully. However, the tracks’ lyrics leave a little to be desired but are functional if a small bit formulaic. Besides its lacklustre lyricism, the key component of ‘Home’ is Gresham’s delivery, with his strong and emotive vocal adding a much-needed level of intimacy and believability to the cut that distracts from the cliché lyrics.

All in all, ‘Home’ is a triumph. Gresham’s performance and the track’s strong production allows for it to rise above a genre that has grown tired to become something fresh in a very crowded and homogenous landscape.

Make sure to check out the music video for ‘Home’ and let us know what you think below:

Track Review: ‘Make Me Feel’ – Janelle Monáe

 

Janelle Monáe Make Me Feel

After failing to deliver on the promise of new music in 2017, Janelle Monáe made it up to her fans with the release of two singles on, ‘Django Jane’ and ‘Make Me Feel’. Announcing her third studio album, entitled Dirty Computer, on the same day, Monáe’s ‘Make Me Feel’ was a viral hit from the get-go, garnering incredible attention online due to its similarity to music legend Prince.

 

The track is the more upbeat of the two cuts, infusing fabulous funk elements into a modern and minimalistic bass line, that sounds like a combination of Bruno Mars’ hit ‘Uptown Funk’ and Selena Gomez’s ‘Bad Liar’. Remaining true to her ironically unique sound that happily bounces between the realms of pop and R&B, ‘Make Me Feel’ is a marvelously mature yet fantastically fun lead single. Lyrically, the track sees Monáe discuss her sexual fluidity with a sassy, almost tongue in cheek delivery vocal, switching from talking to singing and from high belts to low whispers in the same breath. Monáe, an advocate for sexual freedom, fabulously embraces her own sexuality pronouncing, “It’s like I’m powerful with a little bit of tender/ An emotional, sexual bender” explaining the often complex issue as “just the way you make me feel”.

Overall, ‘Make Me Feel’ bravely tackles an often-sensitive topic with a blasé naturalness that rarely exists outside an ideal world beyond our own, all while embracing the fun side of pop music, manifesting in a perfectly crafted and high energy offering.

Make sure to check out ‘Make Me Feel’ by Janelle Monáe below and let us know what you think in the comments:

TRACK REVIEW: ‘The Good Side’ – Troye Sivan

2017 saw a number of pop artists take extremely experimental chances with their sound. Kesha went country, Taylor went electro and Selena went minimal. With the beginning of a new year, more artists have already begun their experimentation. One such artist is Troye Sivan. The YouTube star turned pop star stuck to a pretty signature electro-pop sound until this week with the release of the second release off his forthcoming sophomore album.

Following the release of the album’s lead single ‘My My My!’, Sivan dropped ‘The Good Side’ exactly a week after. Sonically, the track is an acoustic pop ballad with slight electro-pop tinges. An almost complete 180° from the sound that dominated all his prior releases, ‘The Good Side’ makes one wonder why Sivan has yet to go in this direction before. The soft strum of the acoustic guitar provides a perfect backdrop for Sivan’s haunting vocal. His lyrical ability is front and center on the track as he lays his melancholy and heartbreak bare for the world to see as he apologizes to his lover. The latter half of the track harkens back to his roots as the track builds from the tender and sorrowful ballad with a pounding drum line underlying a distorted chorus of backing vocals.

Ultimately, Sivan’s transition from electro and dance-pop to sweet Mumford and Sons-esque acoustic is seamless and masterfully executed. The mismatched construction of ‘My My My!’ and ‘The Good Side’, from both a production and lyrical viewpoint, makes the wait for the entire record even more exciting, as his sonic direction becomes unclear. If the first two releases are anything to go on, whatever that direction is, it will be immaculate.

Make sure to check out the track below and let us know what you think:

 

 

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TRACK REVIEW: ‘All The Stars’ – Kendrick Lamar (ft. SZA) 

It seemed the year was starting strong for the entertainment industry as a whole following the announcement that the soundtrack of what could well be one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, Black Panther, would be produced and curated by none other than Kendrick Lamar, along with Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith. The announcement came with the potential of a fabulous soundtrack with a strong and cinematic vision, something that Lamar’s work has become celebrated for. The first cut from the soundtrack, however, but a bit of a hesitant asterisk on that potential.

It isn’t that the trick is bad necessarily, it is instead a solid R&B/pop track. Employing the vocal of R&B star SZA for the hopeful and optimistic chorus, Lamar raps about defiance and strength in a verse that satisfies a certain itch but lacks the depth that many have become accustomed to with Lamar’s work. The production is slick and polished as is the writing, both providing little to disgust but little to delight at the same time.

Overall the track is an inoffensive track that would be expected of a project of this nature if it weren’t for the pedigree of the talent attached to it.

Check out the track and let us know what you think below:

Alternatively Pop’s Top 20 Songs of 2017

We count down our picks for the top 10 tracks of 2017

2017 was an… interesting year. Albeit not the best year in other areas, at least the music was good, even great in some cases. We were blessed with some brilliant songs this year. These are (subjective to opinion) the best of those.

  1. Praying – Kesha

Simultaneously, a piercing battle cry and heart-breaking anthem of pain, Kesha’s first release in almost five years came as nothing less than a triumph.  A stunning return to the industry and a musical 180, ‘Praying’ was the perfect encapsulation of the hurt and rage that the Trump-era has brought upon the world, as well as the personal turmoil of the voice that brought the track to life.

2. Bad Liar – Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez is not the first name that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue when it comes to experimental pop songs. However, Gomez’s ‘Bad Liar’ was an immaculate pop song that stopped critics in their tracks with its simplistic production paired with Gomez’s sensual and breathy vocals. Written over the bassline of the Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’, Gomez put herself well and truly on the map with this one.

3. Green Light – Lorde

A champion of everything weirdly brilliant, Lorde knocked everything she had done out of the water when she returned with ‘Green Light’. Marvellously rousing, ‘Green Light’ is like a jigsaw put together incorrectly but fitting perfectly all the same. Mismatched song writing over a flawlessly building pop beat, Lorde made sure her return was as perfect as it could be.

4. Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift

Although it’s follow-up ‘…Ready For It?’ is sonically superior, it is ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ that truly shows off the brilliance of its creator. Arguably the most divisive song of the year, ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ was the comeback heard on every corner of the globe, and only in the wake of its flickering and savage arrival, could one appreciate the genius behind it. From the choice to make the pre-chorus build to nothing to the risk of interpolating Right Said Fred’s ‘I’m Too Sexy’, Swift made sure her return came singed with the rage and anger only pop’s most hated person could muster.

5. The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home – Declan Mckenna

On ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’, Mckenna perfectly captured what it is to be tethering on the line between youth and adulthood in a world where so much is so unsure. The raw vocal of Mckenna paired with the pondering almost conversational lyrics make for an impeccable indie-rock track that sounds like stepping into someone’s thoughts.

6. City Lights – Blanche

The Eurovision song contest is assured to give you two things – camp over the top performances and awkward instances of countries giving their neighbour points. However, every year, there is some songs that stand out among their sub-par competitors. Belgium’s entry to the 2017 contest was one of those rare shining diamonds. An impeccably crafted pop song, ‘City Lights’ relies on its simplicity, in both production and vocals to truly make it epic and god, does it succeed.

7. Sign of the Times – Harry Styles

God only knew what the hiatus of the world’s biggest boyband would bring about and while his bandmates went in reasonably predictable routes, Harry Styles shed his mainstream cocoon and dove head first into the world of rock. A sweeping soft rock ballad that Bowie would have been proud of, Styles showed exactly what he was capable and flexed his creative muscles to their full extent for what may well have been first time in years.

8. Love – Lana Del Rey

On the lead single from her fourth full length, Del Rey returned to the vintage greatness of tracks such as ‘Young and Beautiful’. ‘Love’ arrived wrapped in a bow and dripping with Hollywood glamour to deliver an awe-inspiringly cinematic testament to the beauty of young love in a way that only the voice of Del Rey can conjure.

9. Disco Tits – Tove Lo

A sexually charged club anthem, ‘Disco Tits’ held nothing back as Tove Lo bared it all. The EDM tinged dance-pop pounds and bounces unapologetically and lets it all hang out – literally. The song draws on disco as well as more modern influences and explores a care free attitude and approach to the world – and its fabulous.

10. Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man

A retro track from a little known alternative band is an odd thing to find within the top 40, never mind the top 10, and yet that’s exactly where Portugal. The Man found themselves this year with ‘Feel It Still’. This funky hit harkens back to 60’s groove in both production and lyrically, resulting in an impossible to ignore earworm.

11. Love is Alive – Lea Michele

Michele truly created something special with the release of ‘Love is Alive’. A stunning broadwayesque power ballad that reaches to the skies and fabulously showcases the vocal talent of Michele, the track perfectly captures the essence of the star who created it.

12. Watch – Billie Eilish

Speaking of talent, this fifteen-year-old singer-songwriter is one of the best things to emerge in music in 2017. Perfectly capturing the dramatic nature of teenage love and over the top feelings that come along with it, Eilish displays a masterful touch on this pop masterpiece that throbs as though it is a recording of the broken heart that inspired it.

13. Lost Without You – Freya Ridings

In a similar vein to Blanche’s ‘City Lights’, Riding’s heart-breaking ballad thrives on its simplicity. Reduced to merely a piano and the gut-wrenching voice of Ridings, ‘Lost Without You’ displays the brilliance in the less is more mantra as its quietest moments are in fact, its loudest.

14. The Cure – Lady Gaga

After the dramatic departure from pop that Joanne took, Gaga returned to her comfort zone with this track. Debuted during her Coachella set, The Cure is a flawlessly fashioned radio hit with a chorus that is undeniably addictive and annoyingly irresistible.

15. Uh Huh – Julia Michaels

One of pop’s most prolific songwriters, Michaels had one of the best breakouts of the year with her hit ‘Issues’. However, it is its follow-up ‘Uh Huh’ that impeccably shows off her genius as a pop mastermind. With a guitar instrumental backing up the verses, it is the drop right into the chorus that makes this one of those unskippable ones that sneaks into very corner of your brain.

16. ’71 Charger – Loreen

Rooted in alternative music, ‘’71 Charger’ broke new ground for the Swedish hit maker. The track draws heavily on minimalistic beats and production, showcasing the voice of Loreen, who makes the bold choice to match and double down on her minimalistic production, with an equally minimalistic but mystifying vocal performance that can only be described as brilliant.

17. Drew Barrymore – SZA

I always believed that Drew Barrymore was the superior Charlie’s Angel and thankfully, R&B’s newest prodigy agrees. SZA cites Barrymore as an inspiration as she played the roles that SZA herself identified with such as the girl who couldn’t get the guy and the track perfectly captures that as SZA asks her lover is she is enough for him.

18. Waking Up Slow – Gabrielle Aplin

A brilliant and overlooked talent, Aplin has developed and coined a unique sound since her debut English Rain. ‘Waking Up Slow’ is fabulous new-age synth driven dance track that is alight with euphoria as bright as the sun.

19. I Know – Aly & AJ

From the pop royalty that brought us the legendary track that is ‘Potential Break-up Song’, Aly & AJ continued to deliver on their potential a decade after their last release. The track was yet another notch in the marvellous year that experimental female pop music has had. A dream pop song that has its head in the clouds and its production in 80s synth pop, ‘I Know’ plays like candy floss and vintage shops.

20. Lost in Your Light – Dua Lipa

Another breakout star of 2017, Lipa’s ‘New Rules’ was absolutely everywhere as it dominated airwaves, its predecessor was equally worthy of adoration. A catchy hook, peppy beat and interesting feature from Miguel makes for an all-around dance-pop banger that was, sadly, ignored.

Listen to all the tracks on this list on Spotify here

TRACK REVIEW: ‘Perfect’ – Ed Sheeran ft. Beyoncé

Beyonce ed.jpg

It is a common tactic for popular artists to remix their songs with new artists in an effort to give them increased traction after they’re album has come and gone. Often times it is an improvement, almost as often as it is a disaster. In the case of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’, it is most definitely the former. One of the better tracks from his rather underwhelming 2017 effort ÷, the enlisting of one of the most beautiful voices in music could only make it stronger.

The track overall is a stunning acoustic ballad that harkens back to the days of Sheeran’s earlier efforts such as the breath-taking ‘A-team’ and ‘Give Me Love’. Lyrically, it Is one of the few tracks on ÷ that shows Sheeran hasn’t lost his touch and his emotional vocals are a perfect combination with the soft acoustic of his guitar.

However, it is when Knowles comes in in the second verse that the song is truly elevated to something special. With a raw yet strong vocal, Beyoncé proves why she is one of the strongest vocalists of all time, despite the fact that her vocal remains soft the entire time. The final chorus brings together the two stars, and the combination of Sheeran and Knowles’ voices make for an unexpectedly fabulous pairing as they round out what is truly a heartbreakingly beautiful and more importantly, a memorable duet.

Check out the official audio below and make sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments section: