First Impressions: Fergie, Blood Orange, SAFIA And More

Written By the interns on 07/05/2016

FirstImpressionsFergieFirst 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. This week we pick apart tracks by Fergie, , Blood Orange, SAFIA, Rae Sremmurd and Mabel

M.I.L.F $

Sean Singh: Look. This is not the worst thing Fergie’s ever done (this is). Taking into account that I’m definitely not its target audience, I still think this is one of the most fun bits of media I’ve come across in a long time. It’s a party banger and a half (and not in the terrible way everything LMFAO was). No one’s listening to this between breaks of Paul Kelly and Anohni, but M.I.L.F. $ is a facetious nugget of pop culture more so than it is serious music, and it’s one that’s done well. Also consider that producer Polow da Ron was behind Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda, Pussycat Dolls’ Buttons and Fergie’s own London Bridge… plus it’s Fergie, whose last meaningful track was Where is the Love? 3

James Schofield: Are we really going to glorify this glossy, offensive, glorified ‘Breast Milk’ advertisement? Allowing this song and its film clip to slip by unfettered sets an extraordinarily dangerous precedent. Not only in the sense that it's suggestive musicians can write and perform lazy ‘music’, but also in the sense that it would suggest that we’re fine with allowing people to debase and objectify entire subcultures of people just because they say they aren't doing it and it sounds like a ‘party banger’. If this were done by a male, this would be such an offensive bit of tripe that everybody would be up in arms. It's not less offensive because it's a woman singing it, it's not less offensive because it's Fergie singing it. This is shit, pure shit. If we don't start expecting more as both human beings and music listeners, then why bother? I felt offended for every mother that I have ever met while I watched this film clip, because this is so legitimately disrespectful. Never mind that it's pretty much a carbon copy, sonically, of Minaj’s Anaconda. I refuse to score this song because I genuinely find nothing positive about it. Yes, mothers are beautiful and strong, but that's sure as shit not what this song is actually doing anything to demonstrate. What does Fergie bathing in her underwear have to do with that? Or pouring milk over her tits? The answer is nothing. Lazy, offensive music and I challenge anyone who thinks this is, in any way, good to listen to. Bye, Felicia. N/A (or minus 5)

Sam Murphy: Oh so many mixed emotions on this one. Firstly, I was skeptical that the public would ever embrace Fergie again but this is shooting up the charts and that’s great for her. Melodically, it’s tight and the hook is memorable enough to fire up radio. It’s absolutely a nod to Nicki Minaj, in fact, she sounds so much like Minaj when she says “on fleek” that it’s laughable. My favourite part of the track is when she belts it out like Fergie can. That’s the only point she really puts her stamp on the song and makes it somewhat followable. I don’t know if I’m buying all this criticism surrounding it not being feminist or degrading females. Fergie is a working Mum as are all the celebrities who appear in the video and if they feel the phrase M.I.L.F. is empowering then that’s for them to decide not me. I also really don’t think we should be comparing it to whether or not it would be offensive if a male did it. All I’d have to do is watch a music video channel for an hour and I’d have multiple examples of men in videos using women as if they’re a prop. There’s only one man in the M.I.L.F $ video and, if anything, his placement is comical not degrading. The song doesn’t do much for me to be honest but I’m not for a minute going to call it sexist. 2

Meshell Webb: You want to know how much I f**cking hate this? Listen to the podcast. 0

Harrison Kefford: I agree with this not being the worst thing (vocally) Fergie has ever done, but boy it’s a stretch to find anything i like about this. Without heading into a rant about everything that is wrong with not only the lyrics and the video, this is quite possibly the most disturbing/disgusting piece of music i’ve heard this year. I know this one is sure to create a lot of good commentary through First Impressions (which is excellent), but, this is up there with that dreadful Africa remix we had to listen to a few weeks back. If i was twelve, I could probably see myself playing this video on loop and frothing the hell out of it. Everyone, please remember this day as i am about to give out my first zero. 0

Average Score: 1.25

Clams Casino/Kelela
A Breath Away

Sean: Clams Casino has to be one of the most interesting producers on the map right now, whose production credits lend themselves to what can at times be divisive combinations of electronic, rap and pop. A Breath Away is soul crunching, and just when you think it’s about a broken relationship, it turns into a story of unity. Don’t skip past this one, settle in and hit repeat. 4.5 Sean's Pick

Sam: Vince Staples and Clams Casino were such a perfect combo that I didn’t think they could be trumped but my goodness, Kelela sounds flawless over a Clams beat. Her breathy vocals slide soulfully over Clams’ slightly muted beats. He could’ve so easily just gone for beauty and really centred around airy synths but instead he’s kicked it into the darkness with those sporadic, industrial beats and that’s what gives it a little extra oomph. This is so excellent. 4.5

Meshell:Clams Casino is killing it right now, I’m still playing All Nite every day and I’m pretty happy about getting to add this into rotation. The darkness is subtle in my opinion but that’s the best kind. It’s still delicate and beautiful, Kelela absolutely nails the vocal on this. There is a weird druggy euphoria being hinted at in this and I am actually okay with that. 4.5

Harrison: I still cannot get over how freaking amazing Clams collaboration was with Vince Staples. It’s one of my favourite hip-hop tracks of the year thus far, and it’s probably going to remain their come years end. I think Kelela absolutely nails this, with the assistance of some pretty tight beats from Clams Casino. I think there is a lot to like about this collaboration, and who knows, maybe this album might take to my liking. 4

Average Score: 4.375

Blood Orange

Sean: Dev Hynes’ artistry is terrifyingly intimidating. Augustine is made from just three instruments, but it’s profound. And it’s not just a greatly-crafted track, it’s important-- it talks about the global consciousness, about the community at a grassroots level. Lost love, the Black Lives Matter movement, theology, philosophy and retrospect all come together under Hynes’ composition. This is the kind of heartstring track that Michael Jackson championed, but spun from a different cloth. 3.5

Sam: As a record, Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound flows so effortlessly but it also sounds really good when you just cherrypick tracks. Judging Augustine on its own is an example of that. It’s a funky, throwback tune that perfectly encapsulates the whole record’s themes of Dev Hynes’ family heritage and cultural roots. Hynes’ softly spoken words resonate and yet it’s also got such a danceable quality to it. A heavenly, groovy offering that wraps-up everything that’s important about Hynes as an artist in a matter of minutes. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Meshell:The groove in this has me swaying in my chair and I’m loving the breathy vocal approach and throwback production. I think my interest began to waver around the 3:16 mark but that “Saint Augustine” hook brought me back and kept me going right till the end. 4

Harrison: The faint memory I have of Dev Hynes is the work he did on that Chemical Brothers Grammy-winning album way back when. That album was amazing, but this side project is like unwrapping that present christmas morning you never expected, but are so excited to play with. Freetown Sound is bloody incredible. It’s like this soulful, psychedelic, summertime love you just want to cherish over and over again. I don’t see why anyone or any blog come years end won’t have this high up the list, as it’s quite possibly a 10/10. Augustine is easily the best track on the record, but if you are looking for other great tracks, check out Best to You, Better Than Me and Thank You. Harrison’s Pick

Average Score: 4.25

Thinking Of You

SEAN: I think Mabel’s got some serious talent, but I hate this song for the fact that where I am in life right now, I can’t relate to it. However, I think that’s a testament to its narrative. Thinking Of You is so far away from where we first saw Mabel (Skepta’s Shutdown) that it’s almost a shock to the system, but there’s an element of lusty youthfulness about its story-- it’s Californian summer romance in the UK. 3

Sam: I’ve been waiting for something else from Mabel after everything blew-up for her at the end of last year. Thinking Of You is more than enough to put her back on the radar. It’s a cool throwback, R&B tune but it’s the tone of her voice that really grabs me here. It slithers through the verses and then hits us with a raspiness in the chorus. I reckon she’s got even more in her than this but Thinking Of You is a really strong first offering for 2016. 3.5

Meshell:I BET Y’ALL DIDN’T SEE THIS COMING but I absolutely adore this. I’m normally the one who turns her nose up at these kind of squishy happy r&b tunes but Mabel has absolutely slayed. The lyrics are so understated, straight forward and bring the right amount of honesty that makes the entire track a killer. I commend Mabel on bringing out my softer side and making we wish for a sunny Californian daydream. 4.5 Meshell’s Pick

Harrison: I don’t know, i can’t vibe this. Like, it’s not the worst piece of pop I have heard/come across this year, but it’s also not the best. I feel like after more listening it could, key word, could grow on me. On the other hand, i really like the video clip. 2.5

Average Score: 3.375

Over You

Sean: I used to think SAFIA were great because of the uniqueness of Ben Woolner’s voice, but I’m getting over it. Over You is OK but it’s not particularly interesting. Honestly, that could just be because of the company it’s in with the above releases this week. But sorry Ben & co, this one earns an apathetic ‘meh’ from me. 1.5

Sam: Over You is by far the most pop thing SAFIA have ever done and it positions them in the same sort of lane as soulful pop acts like Bastille. Their greatest strengths have always been Ben Woolner’s soulful voice and their feel for delectable melodies. Make Them Wheels Roll fell really flat for me but this one is a catchy ear worm. triple j listeners go weak at the knees for anything that SAFIA do but I wish they would aim a little more for commercial radio because they could add a really needed element to mainstream music in this country. 3

Meshell:Granted this song is much better than the last couple I’ve skimmed over by SAFIA but I kind of feel like they set the bar too high with Listen To Soul, Listen To Blues. Still love Ben’s voice but it’s just a little same-samey for me. 3

Harrison: I really really and still do, like Make Them Wheels Roll. I think the one thing i love about SAFIA is the lovely tone and sound of Ben Woolner’s voice. I can’t say I love this, nor can I say I hate it. But, I am still very much keen to hear this album because there is a lot to love about SAFIA. 3.5

Average Score: 2.75

Rae Sremmurd

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Sean: There’s so much potential with Rae Sremmurd, and you can just hear them bursting with it on #DoYoga, but the production lets them down. This shouldn’t be a single, this is really an interlude that someone got carried away with. I can’t see a context in which I’d ever listen to this, but having said all that, it’s still better than SAFIA. 2

James: I've not been quiet about my love for Rae Sremmurd. However, I'm also realistic about them as musicians - knowing that sometimes they can really, really miss the mark (previous Sremmlife 2 album single Over Here comes to mind). Notably, this song actually doesn't show up on the tracklist for the upcoming album, so it's probably safe to assume that it's a loose cut, promotional single, or even just a way for the duo to apologise for the significant album delay the album copped recently. It's semi similar in ways to previous single Look Alive, but just more goofy. Kind of like a 16 year old wrote it. It's listenable, but these two have done better. 3

Sam: Part of Rae Sremmurd’s appeal has always been their light-heartedness but the difference between this and early singles like No Type, is that this goes so far that it falls too close to being comical. The hashtag title is so unnecessary and while the beat is woozy, drunk and captivating, the raps just totally destroy it for me. It’s such a shame because they really can do more than just deliver goofy bars but that seems exactly what they aimed for here. It’s a miss, unfortunately. 2

Meshell: Yeahhhhhh seeing as Janelle Monae beat you to writing the only Yoga theme song any of us’re gonna have to try a lil’ harder to impress me Rae. 2

Harrison: Hey look, a hip-hop I can actually semi vibe. I still don’t know if it’s something i would search my Spotify library for though, as it doesn’t really have any replay value for me. The rapping is kinda stale, and the beat is a little dry. 2.5

Average Score: 2.3

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