First Impressions: Rihanna, Kanye, Paul McCartney + more

Written By Sam Murphy on 01/27/2015

FI_27Jan

First Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each week we review six new songs from the past week, each giving them a score out of five and awarding our pick of the week. Today we pick apart tracks by Rihanna + Kanye + McCartney, Petite Meller, Tobias Jesso Jr + more. 

Rihanna, Kanye, Paul McCartney- FourFiveSeconds

Sam: I honestly have zero idea what Kanye is doing at the moment. All of his sound reinventions (even 808s and Heartbreaks) made sense but this Paul McCartney ballad territory is totally out of the box. Literally everyone has been waiting for a Rihanna comeback and then she delivers this. It’s not made for the clubs, it’s not even made for the car, but that’s the greatness of it. Melodically it’s a sucker-punch and Rihanna has never sounded better but the best thing about it is how conceptually confusing it is. By doing something so simple, Rihanna, Kanye and Paul have, oddly, done something revolutionary. Sometimes you should just keep it simple, stupid. This is brilliant. 4.5 Sam's Pick

Donna: I used to be a massive fan of Kanye West, and knew all the words to the “Graduation” and “College Dropout” albums. But from the release of Yeezus, I have honestly not given a stuff about his music, because I feel as though his whole life since Kim Kardashian is just a ridiculous publicity stunt. (Also, likening yourself to Jesus? Give me a break.)

But I did find myself enjoying this song, far more than I care to admit. It’s refreshing to hear Rihanna’s voice sounding so natural, and a relatively acoustic track released by Kanye? Wahhhhh?

I don’t know what to make of all this. However, I do wonder where Kanye is going with these past 2 releases. I feel as if he is trying to be overly sincere, and after his recent shenanigans, I don’t buy it. Soz Kanye. 2

Caitlin: What happens when you mix two extremely prominent musicians of the noughties with an iconic 60s legend? The answer, fourfiveseconds (of genius). To be honest when the internet began to blow up this track I expected Rhi Rhi to be singing about strip clubs and diamonds with Yeezus demanding world domination but to my surprise both artists were belting out heartfelt lyrics to a breathtaking acoustic track laid down by no other than Sir Paul McCartney. Even though I’m still trying to figure out what the term “wildin” means, this track will definitely be on repeat all day every day. 4.5   Caitlin's Pick

Tobias Jesso Jr- How Could You Babe

Sam: Every time I listen to Tobias Jesso Jr, I have to double-check to remind myself I’m not listening to Lennon. The fact is Jesso Jr is so effortlessly an old soul that it doesn’t sound cliche or forced. You can produce things within an inch of their life and layer like you’re baking a cake but all great songwriters need is a simple tune. How Could You Babe is so simple from its melody to its subject matter, but it’s so beautiful and so heartbreaking a little like Lennon’s Oh Mother. 4

Donna: I listen to a lot of new music on a daily basis, so I am kicking myself wondering how I missed Tobias Jesso Jr. How Could You Babe could be a Beatles song, with its simple chords, mellow vocals, and understated sound. Unlike Kanye, the sincerity in this track is believable, and the simple songwriting, while cliché, is effective. 3.5

Caitlin: Sitting in front of a fire place with a nice glass of red is what comes to mind when I hear Tobias Jesso Jr stroke the piano keys and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. How Could You Babe may possibly be an anthem for anyone experiencing a break up before Valentines Day but don’t fret, Tobias knows exactly how you feel. With the announcement of his debut album set to drop in March, I can guarantee you will never feel alone again. 4

Petite Meller- Baby Love

Sam: When the first Florence and the Machine record Lungs came out, I wanted to burn copies and take it to everybody at school because it had this energy that made me want to tell everybody about it. Of course, piracy restricted me from doing so but you get the idea. I feel the same about Baby Love. It’s got this flaring energy, delivered by the manic keys jabs vivacious bongos, that make it impossible to sit down. It feels like we’re being taken to church. It feels like we’re being taken to a club. It feels like we’re dancing at an outdoor festival. Its influences are so confused and yet tied together so brilliantly by the burgeoning chorus. Petite Meller’s fashion is spot on too, might I add. 4.5

Donna: There are so many things I don’t like about this song, mostly because I watched the film clip first and it just annoyed me to no end. I don’t like Petite Meller’s vocals. I don’t like her juxtaposition of wealth, clean buildings etc. with dusty African villages. As an African person, the music video offended me for the stereotypes it painted about Africa (villages, huts, dusty, barefoot children, dancing in the street). In saying that, Baby Love has feel-good vibe that makes it very hard not to tap your foot along to, at the very least. 1

Caitlin: Brb, going to go dance in Africa for a little while. There is nothing much to say about this song other than the energy and catchy chorus will brighten anyone’s day no matter the circumstances. 3.5

Denai Moore- Elsewhere

Sam: Moore has a startling voice so packed full of emotion that you always feel she’s a note away from a tear but her solo tracks haven’t exactly made me do handstands. Elsewhere is another track that sees her rely on her beautiful, melancholy voice but really struggles to give me anything apart from that.its definitely nice but I reckon she has more in her than just nice. 3

Donna: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. This track carries a distinctly James Blake vibe, with that unique British take on sparse, emotional electronic music that artists of African descent seem to muster so easily (Kwabs, Vicktor Taiwo, Oyinda). The balance of vocals, emotion, sparse instrumentation, and harmony are perfect. Elsewhere is simple, but pulses with life. This slow burner is exactly what I will be adding to my Soundcloud playlist. Will be waiting in anticipation for Denai’s album release in April! 5 Donna’s Pick

Caitlin: Elsewhere is a song that will definitely take the listener elsewhere. Personally I rarely listen to slow soulful songs but there was something about this track that kept me listening until the very end (and left me wanting more). There is no denying Denai has amazing vocal cords and musical talent beyond her years but understandably this type of music is not for everyone. If you do however give it a chance, there will be no regrets after having a listen to this little gem! 3.5

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/denaimoore/denai-moore-elsewhere[/soundcloud]

Good Love- Alone

Sam: This song is all about that breakdown with the howling guitar. It sounds like it would sound right at home on Prince's Purple Rain soundtrack if the vocals were just a notch higher. It's definitely in the lane of RnB but it has a rock edge which gives it a little more organic grunt. This is begging to be remixed with a four to the floor beat. 4

Donna: 0:00 - 0.37: I’m loving this

0:37 - 0:57: His voice is getting a bit annoying but still a pretty cool song

0:57: All hope is lost. Chorus spoilt the whole song.

I don’t know what is happening here, but somebody got lost along the way. Alone started off as a track I would share with all my friends, but the song is all over the place in terms of style, and the electric guitar laden chorus is just cringeworthy. 2

Caitlin: Alone has me conflicted. One minute I don’t want to listen to it again, the next I am singing it as I prepare a meal. Good Love (formally known under his stage name Patrice) provides smooth R&B influenced vocals over an equally supportive beat to get that head bobbing and those fingers clicking. But do keep in mind; this song is highly infectious so play it in the car with family on a long car ride to ensure they have Good Love permanently stuck in their cranium. 3

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/goodlove/alone-1[/soundcloud]

Trinidad James- T James Express

Sam: I loved 100s mixtape last year because it had this sexy-cross-creepy feel but was oh so smooth and I think I like this one for the same reason. I've been playing a lot of music out loud over the holidays and this one is the one that has raised eyebrows. Some laugh at the chorus, some start to groove a little bit but no one so far has said its awful. If you're going to write a song that has the potential to be creepy, it's a good thing if no one calls it awful straight off. As for me, I reckon it's got the potential to be a runaway hit...all aboard. 4

Donna: Despite trying hard not to, I found myself dancing around to this track… shuffling was involved. I guess I have been moving away from American rap and hip hop culture for a good while now, but I am still so surprised by how insulting the songs lyrics are. In saying that, this song is fun, and seems to have been created with good humour in mind. 3

Caitlin: I’m no train expert but I do believe the T James Express is very different from the Polar Express. However, it is a catchy HipHop/R&B tune that may appear in nightclubs for people to grind to in the future. I wouldn’t under estimate T James just yet after all he has had 2 Chainz, T.I and Young Jeezy feature on a remix of a track from his debut mix tape. So who knows what T James will come up with next? 2

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/derekallendja/trinidad-james-t-jame-expre-prod-by-dja[/soundcloud]