Gepe – Punto Final

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=21809

Canción final…


[Video][Website]
[7.71]
</b>

Will Adams: Horns ahoy!
[7]

Ryo Miyauchi: Like many songs in Estilo Libre, “Punto Final” deals with Gepe’s own memories. For this, he recollects his childhood and channels its fond warmth but also its fleeting briskness into music. The specifics — a walk through Gran Avenida and San Miguel — pass by in a blur like a gaze out the window of his metro rides. More than a wonderful flashback, this is yet another badge of hometown pride by Gepe: he embraces his upbringing to share with others outside of his world. And the slicker his music gets, more of his pride seems to shine through.
[7]

Cassy Gress: I don’t have a Facebook account and haven’t for years, primarily because it was quickly shaping up into a way for people I hadn’t been friends with in high school to pretend that we had been friends, and for people I had been friends with to disappoint me with how differently we turned out. This recycles the beat from “Hambre” and turns it into a paean to lifelong friends and the relative democracy of childhood; it tugs on the same darkened, walled-off part of my brain that my mom tugs on when she sends me emails about how the kids I grew up with are doing (because she’s still in touch with their parents, of course). It’s not meant to be melancholy, but I’m sort of uncomfortably sad anyway.
[7]

Moses Kim: Those horns! Those chilled-out guitar licks! That whistled hook! That voice, nimble and buttery and breathy in all of the best ways! Gepe gets this one over almost on aesthetic quality alone, but there’s an irresistible momentum to the way this jumps from strength to strength before throwing the listener another hook, another production trick, another rhythmic variation.
[9]

Iain Mew: I’ve occasionally wondered what would have happened if Jens Lekman had taken his contribution to Javiera Mena’s amazing “Sufrir” as more of a pointer for himself and add some of that musical style to his winsome songwriting. Now the position already being taken is a pretty good reason not to, though.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Like his compatriot Alex Anwandter, Gepe’s plainsong is his strength; he approaches romantic trauma with the mien of a Pep Boys mechanic peeking at the radiator. The charm of “Punto Final” is the hermetic sound of the demo, which excuses the organ and canned horns. 
[7]

Juana Giaimo: Alex Anwandter recently complained about how apolitical the Chilean music scene is. It isn’t a coincidence that he recorded an album with Gepe in 2012, since although he isn’t exactly political, it does feature social commentary as simple as remembering childhood and our values. His music evolved from quiet bedroom songs to a blend of massive genres of the streets combined with the newest trends. As he himself says in the spoken bridge of “Punto Final”: “Ableton Live and a charango and bombo.” I remember how his infectious brass succeeded at making me dance so freely at his show and how I sang along so passionately to his always smooth vocals that learnt how to get loud by rapping. At that show, I met three Chilean people currently studying in Buenos Aires. I saw how one of them reacted with excitement when she casually found another Chilean who grew up in the same place she did. I can’t remember the name of their hometown, but she could just have said, like Gepe sings in the chorus, “I saw you yesterday walking in San Miguel!”
[10]

Ayumi Hamasaki – Mad World

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=21807

We (don’t) find it kinda funny, we find it kinda… good!


[Video][Website]
[6.50]

Katherine St Asaph: Not a cover, to its improvement or detriment. The piano riff is an almost note-for-note recreation of… what? (Yeah, yeah, I’m the critic here, but it’s not “All My Life,” not “Around the World,” not anything I remember of Charlotte Martin or Tori Amos or Sarah McLachlan or Frank Wildhorn, so… what?) If I favor the clearly worse song of today, blame my craving for musical drama.
[6]

Will Adams: The opening piano line made me think some major cheese was approaching, but what followed was robust pop-rock with ornate accents. I’ve usually had reservations with Hamasaki’s voice — tightly coiled, with harsh appoggiaturas springing out — but “Mad World” begins to offer a setting where it could work well.
[6]

Iain Mew: A dramatic ballad complete with sad piano, a weeping guitar solo and Hamasaki sounding powerfully on edge, but played at twice the speed all of that suggests. A neat trick.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Hey — a power ballad! The piano tinkle and gargled vocal aren’t complements, but when the song proceeds down its familiar path the reassurance of convention takes over.
[6]

Moses Kim: Those chord progressions, stop-start percussive motifs, and twinkling keys are straight out of latter-day P!nk’s playbook: if P!nk swept these elements up in a narrative about endurance and perseverance, however, Hamasaki captures more of a questioning in her lyrics, a reckoning with both the beauty of the world and the violence that threatens it. It’s a compelling dimension to read into the same sound, and the songwriting and instrumentation (generous orchestral swoops meeting their match in harsher guitar distortion and heavy percussion) work wonderfully in tandem to bring these themes color. 
[7]

Leonel Manzanares: Other than the chord progression in the pre-chorus (Dm – C – A# – G) and that drumless final hook, this would be some average mid-tempo piano rock tune, but Ayumi’s nostalgic-but-no-less-dramatic performance is worth the price of admission. Also, those lyrics are darker than i thought; lines like “The god of fortune laughs/at our immense arrogance” would make my 13-year old metal fan wet his pants. 
[6]

Cassy Gress: Ayumi turned that sine-wave vibrato of hers into a quavering sob, and that somehow yanked all the heartstrings I thought I was immune to. The tremolo’d guitar solo lights up the song like sun breaking through clouds.
[8]

Ryo Miyauchi: “How am I supposed to keep going?” is a loaded thought to begin with, but Hamasaki expands the scale of the issue tenfold by literally asking the natural world — the trees and the winds — for how it copes. Her voice pours out emotion ’til she’s bled dry, with her over-enunciation still working as a barrier for me. And yet, she asks her question casually like a friend seeking another  for advice: “Hey, just let me know what would you do at a time like this?” Her emotive vocals read less as hopelessness than being exhausted from having to search for the answer on her own for now almost two decades.
[6]

Katy Perry – Rise

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=21806

And you’re gonna hear me riiiiiiiiiiise…


[Video][Website]
[3.23]
Iain Mew: I like the continuity from the last Olympic theme which sees “Survival” followed by a song with the first line “I won’t just survive.” Indeed, “Rise” works 100% for the bits which sound over-committed enough that they could have been given to Muse again (“you will see me thrive!” “Victory is in my veins!” “I will not negotiate!”) and about 20% for everything else.
[3]

Alfred Soto: Did we ever doubt “victory is in [her] veins”? Blasting enemies from the top of sequined towers like an agent of Mordor, Katy Perry can’t open her mouth without reminding listeners of her effort and strength. This Olympic theme is the snuggest set of clothes she’s worn since Teenage Dream. No one will remember it in August — that’s the best part.
[3]

Katie Gill: I usually like generic sports anthems but this one’s a boring sports anthem. Katy’s wheelhouse has never been big ballady numbers (remember “Unconditionally?” We try not to.), and that’s remarkably apparent here. Besides, if you’re going for slow ballads with a pseudo-phoenix theme (rising, surviving, lyrics about fire, etc.), then I’m sorry to tell you but the best one’s already been done.
[3]

Will Adams: All the super serious, cumbersome drama of a Eurovision song that finishes in nineteenth but probably didn’t deserve to make it to the grand final in the first place.
[4]

Claire Biddles: This is so middling Eurovision — close your eyes and you can see Katy atop a revolving podium, fibre optic dress trailing 12 feet below her, “You are unable to cast a vote for this song in your country” flashing below her on screen as you order your fourth bottle of fizzy wine from the bar. Aside from when she unleashes her trademark bellow of the song title, Perry feels like a rent-a-star on this, which, as a Katy-hater, means I like it a little more than her usual soundbite wailfests, but not enough to actually want to listen to it again.
[2]

Katherine St Asaph: Behold (the simplification of) the era: America watches Eurovision, HBO’s several years into a swords opera, fashion is smitten with floor-length elf robes, everything is dystopia, Celine Dion is back, and Katy Perry is also back and fits right in. A scatter of trap percussion dates this alongside “Kiss It Better,” but otherwise this is full symphonic power ballad, and if I’m on record anywhere saying Perry’s voice best fits Matrix-y pop-punk, mea culpa. Her kitten-at-a-scratching-post cadence suits the waify heroines that culture casts and fans imagine in these stories, and if she doesn’t (or can’t) go for the final high note this so clearly needs, neither did Conchita Wurst. The lyrics are nothing — if she’s beyond the archetype, why does she then list every single one? Are we battling or transforming or sportsing or Jesuslazarusphoenixing? — but the drama is shameless and palpable and all this needs.
[7]

Moses Kim: With the passing of each four-year epoch, the Olympics feel less like the grand universal spectacle I once believed them to be and more a bloated relic of a more optimistic time in national history. Give “Rise” some credit for capturing our contemporary mood in its plodding, monotonous weight, where the simmering racial and economic tensions of the last few decades have been rendered explosive thanks to a pompous wig with a man attached to it; where each morning feels punctuated with news of distant gunshots; where hope is demanded even as it feels impossible. There is much in the United States to rise from right now, yet Perry sings of rising against nothing more specific than the funeral-dirge trap of the instrumental (meanwhile, everybody in Rio is scrambling to hold the illusion up). “Oh ye of so little faith,” accuses the pre-chorus, but I smell the sewage under the shrine, and if that’s what “Rise” demands, it makes an atheist of me.
[2]

Edward Okulicz: I don’t care for the Olympics beyond the faster, higher, stronger events that make sense within it. I am unmoved by the hero-worship of 99% of athletes. I find Katy Perry to be about the least inspiring pop star in the world. I can’t stand the lyrics of this, not just bad and trite, but perverting the melody’s scansion. It’s really hard to listen to this and conclude that it was written especially for the purpose, because the words feel so unnatural and plonked. I will give Perry credit and/or blame for believing every syllable of this piffle, though.
[3]

Scott Mildenhall: How could something so ponderous possibly rise? And how could it possibly be considered as a theme for TV coverage of the Olympics? At best this is a half-baked Bond theme demo, possessing an uncertain portentousness that could be attractive if it actually went anywhere, but doesn’t. Perhaps it might play better with American viewers, but from here it feels uninspiring in every sense of the word.
[4]

Danilo Bortoli: Putting sportsmanship and competitive nature inside a song can be tough. It can lead to patronizing anthems and chants of blind and vague chants of self-congratulation (comporting a few exceptions of course). Yet, “Rise” makes sense: nobody tries harder than Katy Perry, the popstar who acknowledges she is far from being the “epitome of effortless cool“. That means everything about this song is forced: the lyrics are vague to the point of soullessness, acquiring the same emotional impact you would get from a postcard. That is, by addressing everyone, she reaches nobody. When it comes to the Olympics, timing and faith are crucial, as they have always been, but that is not the point. The question now is: Why so inauthentic?
[3]

Will Rivitz: “I won’t just conform,” says the most malleable pop singer around, over a track so cloying it’s almost physically painful. I didn’t think it was possible to push through Katy’s impenetrable mediocrity — apparently, I was wrong.
[1]

Cassy Gress: There once was a stream of famous Olympic songs all about achieving the dream and having that perfect, glorious moment. This one follows more in the 2012 tradition; it’s about glaring and stomping and steam coming out nostrils á la bull in Bugs Bunny cartoon, FUCK YOU YOU CAN’T STOP ME, and thus it sits in a weird place where it’s too victory-themed for a normal pop song but too oddly angry for an Olympic anthem. The Olympics have been a financial and infrastructural nightmare for years now, but I still, perhaps stupidly, get all excited every year for athletes from all over the world coming together and fighting and winning and glorying — this is too boring for that.
[3]

Brad Shoup: It is a perfect depiction of the elite athlete: the one for whom excellence is not enough, who must silence the one doubter in a sold-out arena, who takes on the unneeded burden of reaching the theoretical notes struck by performative worship. It’s not the ultimate joy, but there is no joy, I guess, that feels quite like the one which shames your haters. That joy, here, is in the hovering: the way Perry’s echo etches her proclamations. The timpani is infernally forged; the snares strain like tendons. It’s tailored to the 40-yard touchdown pass in an NFL Films joint and the endless tease of an NBA-recapped alley-oop, to the atomic narrativizing that sportswriters reach for to make the impressive merely eternal. For this reason, Perry’s anthems have always been her worst songs, and her trifles the best: in the latter, the thrill comes from the doing, not the deed. I’m sure this will be a smash for the Olympic athletes. But take it from a great athlete who won’t be there: it’s less about the rise than the surprise.
[4]

Drake ft. Popcaan – Controlla

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=21805

Yes, let’s all do what Drake tells us to, that will be fun…


[Video][Website]
[5.00]
</b>

Leonel Manzanares: Was the new version with the Beenie Man participation so necessary? Popcaan effortlessly slays this late-night gentle grinder of a track. Hell, he even slays “Too Good” from that little sample box. It’s kind of fun when Drake plays faux-Caribbean, but his low-toned “romantic” — by that i mean creepy — delivery falls short when it’s sharing the track with an actual Caribbean. My point is, Views needed way more Popcaan than what we ultimately got.  
[5]

Alfred Soto: Ominous and confident about his sensuality, Popcaan shows up the superstar, vocoder and everything.
[3]

Anthony Easton: Along with that Rihanna single, Drake keeps hiring people who sing better than him. I am not convinced that there aren’t two dozen singers who could work in a similar capacity in St. Thomas Parish. Extra point because I am amused that something so bottoming and needy makes the argument about control. 
[3]

Claire Biddles: I don’t know what’s hotter; the push and pull of lyrical dominance and submission, or the anticipatory syncopation in Drake’s delivery — “you like it/when I get/aggressive/tell you to/go slower/go faster” — a rhythm that drips with sexual maturity. 
[9]

Thomas Inskeep: For the life of me I can’t quite figure out what this song’s about — pretty sure Mr. Toronto and Popcaan find a girl “sexy” — but it’s a pleasant enough, plush dancehall-lite record.
[6]

Natasha Genet Avery:

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<p class="ljsyndicationlink"><a href="http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=21805">http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=21805</a></p><p><i>Yes, let&#8217;s all do what Drake tells us to, that will be fun&#8230;<br /> </i></p> <p><center><img src="http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/images/drake-popcaan.jpg" border="2"><br><b>[<a href="https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=drake+controlla">Video</a>][<a href="http://www.drakeofficial.com/">Website</a>]<br><a title="Controversy index: 1.43">[5.00]</a></b></center></b> <p><b><a href="http://twitter.com/lemonotreme">Leonel Manzanares</a>:</b> Was the new version with the Beenie Man participation so necessary? Popcaan effortlessly slays this late-night gentle grinder of a track. Hell, he even slays &#8220;Too Good&#8221; from that little sample box. It&#8217;s kind of fun when Drake plays faux-Caribbean, but his low-toned &#8220;romantic&#8221; &#8212; by that i mean creepy &#8212; delivery falls short when it&#8217;s sharing the track with an&nbsp;<i>actual</i> Caribbean. My point is, <i>Views</i> needed way more Popcaan than what we ultimately got. &nbsp;<br>[5]</p> <p><b><a href="http://humanvacuum.blogspot.com">Alfred Soto</a>:</b> Ominous and confident about his sensuality, Popcaan shows up the superstar, vocoder and everything.<br>[3]</p> <p><b><a href="http://pinkmoose4eva.tumblr.com/">Anthony Easton</a>:</b> Along with that Rihanna single, Drake keeps hiring people who sing better than him. I am not convinced that there aren&#8217;t two dozen singers who could work in a similar capacity in St. Thomas Parish. Extra point because I am amused that something so bottoming and needy makes the argument about control.&nbsp; <br>[3]</p> <p><b><a href="http://msbiddles.tumblr.com">Claire Biddles</a>:</b> I don&#8217;t know what&#8217;s hotter; the push and pull of lyrical dominance and submission, or the anticipatory syncopation in Drake&#8217;s delivery &#8212; &#8220;you like it/when I get/aggressive/tell you to/go slower/go faster&#8221; &#8212; a rhythm that drips with sexual maturity.&nbsp;<br>[9]</p> <p><b><a href="https://thomasinskeep.wordpress.com/">Thomas Inskeep</a>:</b> For the life of me I can&#8217;t quite figure out what this song&#8217;s about &#8212; pretty sure Mr. Toronto and Popcaan find a girl &#8220;sexy&#8221; &#8212; but it&#8217;s a pleasant enough, plush dancehall-lite record.<br>[6]</p> <p><b>Natasha Genet Avery:</b> <brclass="apple-interchange-newline">So I guess Drake&#8217;s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4XD5MTMACg" title="" target="">fake patois</a> is less a momentary lapse of judgement and more of a directive. The most I can hope for is that this middling attempt at a summer jam helps Popcaan reach the international stardom he&#8217;s increasingly well-positioned for.</brclass="apple-interchange-newline"><br>[4]</p> <p><b><a href="http://katherinestasaph.tumblr.com">Katherine St Asaph</a>:</b> *peeks head into zeitgeist* What&#8217;s Fucking Drake up to these days? Curating Caribbean and African artists? Laudable! <a href="http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=2911">Droning robotically</a> and still failing to get through a love song without bemoaning more girls? Unsurprisingly unchanged.<br>[5]</p>

Metronomy – Night Owl

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=21803

Cruel summer ’08…


[Video][Website]
[6.17]
</b>

Katie Gill: The song starts off so slow I had to double check that my volume wasn’t muted. Once it starts up however, we’re left with a remarkably good piece of electronica that’s somehow chill and peppy at the same time.
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: I always forget what Metronomy actually sounds like and expect toothless, pleasant soft-rock. Toothless, unpleasant cod-funk about a whiny vocalist and his ex’s dreaded Lady Gaga music is not an improvement.
[2]

Claire Biddles: Some break-up songs are relatable because they are universal, and some are relatable because they filter a familiar feeling through specifics. “Night Owl” is from a record called Summer 08, so it’s clear from the start that this is going to be about a particular person. At first I thought the date might be in reference to when they broke up, but it’s clear from the smarting bitterness in the song that it’s when they got together. A reference to “FM radio hosts playing ‘Paparazzi'” situates the story of the song in a fixed time and place, but also perfectly evokes the moment when a soundtrack to a love affair becomes unlistenable as love rots away — I think of all the songs I’ve deleted from my computer, all the records I’ve hidden at the back of the stack, only to hear them in a bar, unavoidable and daring to remain omnipresent when I want to forget. “Night Owl” is bitter and cruel and pathetic and self-loathing, but haven’t we all been those things?
[8]

Brad Shoup: As I understand it, the whole record’s literally about the summer of 2008. Less understandable is this song’s choice to recreate a casually sour reaction to a breakup. Gothic pronouncements alternate with the magnetic pull of downtown parties; he references “Paparazzi” just to tweak it. I wonder what utility there is in resurrecting a shittier you, especially when so many of our past shitty selves are amply documented. I also wonder about the artistry in it. His track’s more willing to interrogate the past than his text is (though he does get in a cracking rhymeset on the chorus). It doesn’t sound like the mutant disco of Nights Out: the grim danceability and rigid interplay are more of the same, if not a step forward. But they — along with Joe Mount’s acidly resigned tenor — suggest someone coming home from those parties and putting on Neon Bible. That shit was always bad.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: He doesn’t actually date the reference, but as pop songs are one of the most enduring bookmarks of a moment in time to be placed in the mind, Joe Mount should be aware that “Paparazzi” was a hit in ’09, and not Summer 08. Fair enough if he’s making that connection though: the memory is hazy and the writing is lazy — or at least not “thoughtful,” as he protests. Haziness and laziness, remembered and in remembering, are in any case “Night Owl”‘s key. To a knackered production flitting in and out of the whirling synth of its dream sequence chorus, Mount seems to be simply looking for a beacon.
[8]

Alfred Soto: Not a Gerry Rafferty cover, nor a band effort — Joe Mount recorded “Night Owl” by his lonesome. That nagging single note played on his guitar is the kind of simple hook that mediocre bands spend forever trying to find. The breathy Junior Boys-indebted vocal should be resisted at all costs, though.
[7]

Wonder Girls – Why So Lonely?

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=21802

Cruel summer…


[Video][Website]
[7.25]
</b>

Katherine St Asaph: Dunno, why so forced?
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: More gleaming pop from the Wonder Girls, only this time they’ve gone for light skanking instead of the ’80s gloss of last year’s Reboot. Their lyrics are as sharp as ever (really, gentlemen, you should do right by them), and so is their sound. I just prefer the ’80s.
[7]

Moses Kim: Sticky, sweet, and summer-ready; listening to this makes me want to lick a popsicle plaintively whilst leaning against the moonlit wall of a 7-Eleven.
[8]

Cassy Gress: So many artists put out songs in the summer and call it a “smash summer jam” or similar. This is the first one I’ve heard this year that actually put summer in my mind; it’s probably just the reggae inflection, but “why-y-y I’m so lone-lyyy” has just the right lean on it to evoke heat mirages on the highway.
[8]

Katie Gill: The inescapable summer beach stylings have made their way to K-Pop. Thankfully here, the steel drums and UB40 keyboard don’t sound as cliché as they have in other endeavors. Wonder Girls’ tight harmonies, a fun rap break, and the purposeful lethargy of the track make a wonderful final product that I’ve just been listening to over and over again.
[8]

Jonathan Bogart: It’s a truism that reggae-pop always sounds best in summer, and since I dislike summer, I like reggae-pop best when it’s depressive rather than sunny. Wonder Girls make immaculate pop about subtle shades of emotion, so of course their depressive reggae is going to hit my spot hard.
[8]

Adaora Ede: An insistence on breaking out of the “idol” mold to become an artist is more aligned with the graduated mass idol culture of Japanese pop, yet Wonder Girls’ recent forays into self-composition and production show them breaking out of the less niche-oriented K-pop. In Korean pop music, the musical variety is so great that writing your own songs or even straying out of genre to styles like rock or hip-hop will not instantly separate you from the idol label. WG’s Park Yeeun has vocalized her aspirations for Wonder Girls to be considered artists, not products for mass consumption. However, their first band attempt, “I Feel You,” lacked the authenticity to level Wonder Girls past idol status: the music didn’t require a staged band set for their improved euphony to shine through. “Why So Lonely” does break barriers by standing away from the mediocre power-pop/Maroon 5-esque pop-rock sound that signifies band concepts in K-pop, with every member putting their instruments to good use. Yes, It’s slightly difficult to take to cruise ship vacation reggae-rap at first, but the artistry being conveyed without the help of the JYP machine makes it innovative.
[8]

Will Rivitz: Everything here is really unsettling. The music is a weirdly processed piece of pop-reggae, MAGIC!’s “Rude” with a layer of dust on top. The video takes this strangeness up three or four notches: Wonder Girls don’t quite play their instruments in sync with the music, and look uncomfortable while doing so to boot; nihilistic binge-drinking is casually mixed in with the rest of the video’s relatively innocuous destruction of a man(nequin); and everything’s colored this strange pastel palette which jives poorly with the music and visual content. Has anybody coined the term “unKanny valley” yet?
[5]

Wonder Girls – Why So Lonely?

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=21802

Cruel summer…


[Video][Website]
[7.25]
</b>

Katherine St Asaph: Dunno, why so forced?
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: More gleaming pop from the Wonder Girls, only this time they’ve gone for light skanking instead of the ’80s gloss of last year’s Reboot. Their lyrics are as sharp as ever (really, gentlemen, you should do right by them), and so is their sound. I just prefer the ’80s.
[7]

Moses Kim: Sticky, sweet, and summer-ready; listening to this makes me want to lick a popsicle plaintively whilst leaning against the moonlit wall of a 7-Eleven.
[8]

Cassy Gress: So many artists put out songs in the summer and call it a “smash summer jam” or similar. This is the first one I’ve heard this year that actually put summer in my mind; it’s probably just the reggae inflection, but “why-y-y I’m so lone-lyyy” has just the right lean on it to evoke heat mirages on the highway.
[8]

Katie Gill: The inescapable summer beach stylings have made their way to K-Pop. Thankfully here, the steel drums and UB40 keyboard don’t sound as cliché as they have in other endeavors. Wonder Girls’ tight harmonies, a fun rap break, and the purposeful lethargy of the track make a wonderful final product that I’ve just been listening to over and over again.
[8]

Jonathan Bogart: It’s a truism that reggae-pop always sounds best in summer, and since I dislike summer, I like reggae-pop best when it’s depressive rather than sunny. Wonder Girls make immaculate pop about subtle shades of emotion, so of course their depressive reggae is going to hit my spot hard.
[8]

Adaora Ede: An insistence on breaking out of the “idol” mold to become an artist is more aligned with the graduated mass idol culture of Japanese pop, yet Wonder Girls’ recent forays into self-composition and production show them breaking out of the less niche-oriented K-pop. In Korean pop music, the musical variety is so great that writing your own songs or even straying out of genre to styles like rock or hip-hop will not instantly separate you from the idol label. WG’s Park Yeeun has vocalized her aspirations for Wonder Girls to be considered artists, not products for mass consumption. However, their first band attempt, “I Feel You,” lacked the authenticity to level Wonder Girls past idol status: the music didn’t require a staged band set for their improved euphony to shine through. “Why So Lonely” does break barriers by standing away from the mediocre power-pop/Maroon 5-esque pop-rock sound that signifies band concepts in K-pop, with every member putting their instruments to good use. Yes, It’s slightly difficult to take to cruise ship vacation reggae-rap at first, but the artistry being conveyed without the help of the JYP machine makes it innovative.
[8]

Will Rivitz: Everything here is really unsettling. The music is a weirdly processed piece of pop-reggae, MAGIC!’s “Rude” with a layer of dust on top. The video takes this strangeness up three or four notches: Wonder Girls don’t quite play their instruments in sync with the music, and look uncomfortable while doing so to boot; nihilistic binge-drinking is casually mixed in with the rest of the video’s relatively innocuous destruction of a man(nequin); and everything’s colored this strange pastel palette which jives poorly with the music and visual content. Has anybody coined the term “unKanny valley” yet?
[5]

Round-up, 2016 week 29

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=21796

Everything we reviewed, in score order:

Come back next week for our reviews of Wonder Girls, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, something from Game of Thrones, another soundtrack song with maybe the most convoluted credit list ever, and lots more!

Didrick ft. Amanda Fondell – Smoke

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=21794

…and mirrors.


[Video][Website]
[5.75]
</b>

Iain Mew: Rattling off bleeps in dazzling sequences like someone effortlessly racking up high scores, Didrick sets a scene of triumph and newfound heights. The result is that the conviction Fondell brings to lines about feelings not expected in a million years sounds perfectly in place.
[8]

Cassy Gress: That E minor-C major-A-major chord progression repeating through the choruses is an odd one. It’d have better effect used once or twice as a pre-chorus because as it is it’s reminiscent of a series of hopeful moments gone wrong. Otherwise, the song consists of mostly forgettable shimmery ice walls and 8-bit bloops, and Amanda chews on the vowels and pushes her passagio through her nose hard enough to take me out of the song entirely. Now I’m just idly wondering when that style of singing stopped being a novelty.
[4]

Ryo Miyauchi: Let’s just stop trying to make this into some serious, life-changing epic and skip right ahead to that sweet, dumb chiptune rush.
[5]

Will Adams: I imagine that someday I’ll tire of this maximalist approach to dance music: of fluttering 8-bit arpeggios, bright synth chords, and vocals that sound like they’re soaring over glaciers. For now, “Smoke” feels like riding another crest.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: Fondell’s voice is obnoxious, pulling the same shapes as Paloma Faith, which unfortunately seems to be becoming de rigeur for dance/pop hook-singers these days (especially from Europe, which still currently includes the UK). I like the d’n’b chorus once it kicks in. How about a whole song that’s just that, without the vocal?
[4]

Alfred Soto: Fondell’s big gulping voice doesn’t always navigate Didrick’s chord changes with ease, but falling in love’s like that sometimes. It would’ve been a winner too had the synth sounds been fresher.
[6]

Will Rivitz: This is the kind of happy-go-lucky electronic pop I’m sure the bloggerati would sneer at if ever it reached their inboxes, but I think this style of music is the bees’ knees, so maybe I’m a bad music writer? Either way, this is a superficial cross between Madeon and Fred V & Grafix – given the source material (Madeon’s hit or miss, but his hits hit hard; Fred V & Grafix are easily top-five favorite artists in my book), it could have been a lot better, but by the same token, given the source material, this was never not going to be right up my alley.
[8]

William John: Teasing out angst into something preposterously theatrical is a very teenage action and one of which I approve of conceptually in pop. “Smoke” heightens the melodrama of unexpected romance with a patchwork of production ideas, some intriguing, others garish. It fails to coalesce mostly because of the guest singer Amanda Fondell, who seems to have used her time in the vocal booth as gurning practice.
[3]

Frenship ft. Emily Warren – Capsize

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=21792

I can’t improve on “HMAS Somebody That I Used to Know”


[Video][Website]
[4.17]
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Iain Mew: The capsize here is presumably the sinking of HMAS Somebody That I Used to Know following a forcible onboarding by the piratical forces of dull tropical dance music.
[3]

Will Rivitz: I’ve listened to this song four times now, and I couldn’t tell you anything that happens in it. There are guys who sing, I think? And a girl? And maybe some ebbing synths? Airy confections can be great, but this slips away too easily.
[4]

Tim de Reuse: Surprisingly dark for a song with so many “Hey-ay-ay-ay-ya”s. The breathy chants of “oh my god” at first sound a little dead behind the eyes, but by the end they’ve progressed to existential dread — it’s the singular “oh my god” you say when you’re too overwhelmed to say anything else. On that level the lyrics are a lovely little punch in the gut, but I can’t help but see strange dissonance between the half of the song that wants to be a triumphant four-on-the-floor major-keyed singalong and the half that groans “Give in to the lonely” as it cries into its cereal.
[6]

Alfred Soto: Warren’s melody has a hint of remembered angst — a well from which she can continually draw if shes going to keep working with the Chainsmokers.
[5]

Adaora Ede: “Capsize” comes from a lineage of emerging viral alty producer+no name singer pop hits a la the Chainsmokers. Building around a droning indie electro beat isn’t exactly the best way to push an awkward ersatz-duet in which the unknown male vocal gets drowned out by the much more emotive Warren. This would have managed to sound complex in 2012, but with the changing range of synthpop in mainstream music, the time that “Capsize” comes out in does not serve analeptic to a tired boom chorus and faux-ethnic chanting. A collation partly triggered by the half-rhyme of the song titles,I can’t help but think of “Capsize” as the emo, less culturally aware cousin of Vance Joy’s “Riptide”. Which stinks, because “Riptide” was already the weird cousin.
[4]

Cassy Gress: Tropical house is supposed to sound a little tropical, right? This hits the checkboxes with the rhythm and marimba-esque synths, but unlike the songs that sound like a lit up beach party at night, this one puts nothing in my mind other than the studio. “Give in to the lonely / here it comes with no warning” is awkward every time she runs through it, especially on the last chorus, where “lonely / here” gets mangled and smeared.
[3]