5 Seconds Of Summer—“Good Girls”
Oh, good, I don’t need to like them after all. Not just because this is lumbering, overblown, sexist tripe, but because they haven’t got the brains to produce even semi-interesting sexist tripe. I.e., in the middle eight, they repeat “Good girls are bad girls” twice instead of reversing it the second time and singing “Bad girls are good girls”. How stupid do you have to be to miss a joke as obvious as that?
Lil Wayne featuring Drake—“Believe Me”
Wayne sounds alive for the first time in years, but the fact that he’s previewing his next album with Drake as support suggests the old confidence still hasn’t come back. His rap is good, but almost hidden, and Drake is as dull as he’s ever been. As for the beat, I haven’t decided whether it’s abstract or just lazy.
Tove Lo—“Habits (Stay High)”
The lyrics about sex clubs and bulimia are no doubt getting this record more attention than it deserves, but the chorus is ordinary, as is the arrangement in general. I’ve heard at least one remix that’s far superior to the original, so Lo may have a better idea of what she’s doing than this suggests. The lyrics are pretty sharp, after all.
Lana Del Rey—“Shades of Cool”
Since all music at it’s root defies logical explanation, it’s not necessarily a compliment to call Del Rey’s mysterious. She’s obviously trying to go deep, but it’s hard to say just what deep means to her, and her noirish affects seem tacked on rather than absorbed. I like the build to the guitar solo, but all that tells us is that she has feelings, not what those feeling are, and since her voice rarely connects her personality (if she has one) gets lost in endless posing. “He drives a Chevy Malibu” might tell us something if there were some vital context, but here it’s just another meaningless detail, blown up out of proportion. She knows what she wants to do (I think), but she has no idea how to do it, and that’s the exact opposite of how things should be.
Third time to the goofy funky well, and though it may not be completely dry the contents aren’t exactly palatable. Derulo’s voice certainly isn’t. He may have the worst falsetto I’ve ever heard, and even without the leering name check his debt to Katy Perry is obvious. I dread the possibility of a ballad where he does his Chris Martin imitation. With luck, though, now that he’s exhausted this particular style and needs to find a new one, he’ll disappear.
It’s not that Mayer’s performance is bad, necessarily, but this was the wrong idea from the start. Modern R&B doesn’t react well to minimal acoustic treatment and “XO” especially so. It can’t gather emotional meaning simply through repetition, it needs the variation that Beyonce gives each chorus, it needs a deeper vocal intensity, and most of all it needs a bassline. Without that it’s mind-numbing sap.
George Strait—“I Got A Car”
It gets schmaltzy near the end (there are even strings), but Strait has never lost his ability to tell a story and make it stick, even with a metaphor as heavy-handed as this. The first two verses are wonderful, with their sense of falling into a life almost by accident, and even the schmaltz is handled deftly enough to have some effect. Strait has no true point of view, at least not one I ever identified, but for a storyteller sometimes thats a benefit.
Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill—“Meanwhile Back At Mama’s”
The usual reactionary rustic nonsense, better played and sung than most, but still nonsense. And it goes on forever.