First Impressions: Liam Payne, Katy Perry, Vince Staples And More

Written By the interns on 05/23/2017

First Impressions are our weekly roundtable reviews sifting through all the fresh new music. Our writers take a listen, slap a score on it and then justify said score. This week Liam Payne, Selena Gomez, Katy Perry, Nina Las Vegas, Vince Staples and Kilter face the jury.

Liam Payne - Strip That Down (Feat. Quavo)

Dominique: FMD. “Used to be in 1D, now I’m out free” to do what exactly? Make more generic pop music under newer, raunchier branding? There’s girls “stripping down”/ grinding on him, a large crowd, alcohol, Ferraris with “six-gear speed” and wow can we MOVE ON from this picture because it’s been painted a thousand times over. Seriously, whoever decided to roll with the ‘club anthem’ thing, a severely dated and increasingly irrelevant concept, needs to take a good hard look at themselves. 1

Zanda: This sounds like the sort of song that when I’m flicking stations in the car I hear for about 5 seconds and then skip. There’s nothing here that makes it anything but a derivative pile of turd. I’d honestly prefer to listen to Harry Styles and I really don’t much care for his latest stuff. 1

Sam: When you leave a boyband, I believe you should be encouraged to make a single that walks a very fine line between cringeworthy and cool and mentions the previous band name. That’s probably why I was so disappointed by Harry’s very mature solo outing. We’re probably going to laugh about this in years to come but apart from Pillowtalk this is my favourite solo debut from a 1D member yet because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. 3.5

Average Score: 1.83

Selena Gomez - Bad Liar

Dominique: First things first, can we talk about the image that’s been used for this video? I very much agree that we need to discuss mental illness and should be upfront about its presence and issues in our community… However, I think that this needs a trigger warning. Not only has this video clocked over 11 million views, but her fan base is relatively young and so I believe a caution would be appropriate. ANYWAY about the music… I was very surprised to hear this song from Selena. I don’t know if I love it, but it interests me. The cheery, poppy sound differs from her regular electric, RNB based style. 2

Zanda: I can’t believe i’m saying this but I actually don’t mind this at all. I’d even say those harmonies are pretty intriguing. This is not what I expected in any way, but yeah it’s honestly a pretty great pop/RnB track. Are we sure this is actually Selena Gomez? It is? Okay then, well, how random. Good track! 3.5

Sam: In today’s climate, it’s such a risky move to put out a pop song that’s a slow grower but here the most followed person on Instagram is with a song that creeps along at a glacial pace on first listen. It’s a daring move, particularly rewriting a Talking Heads classic, but it pays off handsomely. It pulls together Selena’s not overly strong but nuanced vocals with the writing work of Tranter and Michaels who just hit so many home runs (“battle of troy”, “let’s make reality, actuality, a reality”). It’s without a doubt the most interesting commercial pop track of the year and a serious contender for one of the songs of the year at this point. 4.5

Average Score: 3.3

Nina Las Vegas - Desert

Dominique: Straight up, I enjoy how this track is produced. I love when the sound fluctuates from ear to ear in my headphones. As the song developed though, I found it increasingly more confusing in sound. My brain was struggling to ascertain exactly what was going on here. This song is repetitive and I’d struggle to listen to it again. I won’t leave this review without mentioning the lyrics are relatively poetic and I’ll relish in that. 2

Zanda: You can definitely tell Swick had a hand in this one, as soon as that glitchy style of production comes in and especially in the drop with its licks and swirls. It seems like Nina and Swick have brought the best out of each other in this one, and she’s toned down the glitchiness and managed to use it to feature her smooth and fun vocals. 3.5

Sam: We’ve heard Nina sing on a few occasions but we’ve never really heard her give us a traditional verse with overtly personal lyrics. I’ve always been more intrigued by her wonky, winding production more so than her lyrics but this one has me interested on both counts. The drop is as hypnotising as they come but the verses are totally intriguing. She’s been growing as a producer with her previous releases but on this one she’s growing as a songwriter. 4

Average Score: 3.16

Katy Perry - Swish Swish (Feat. Nicki Minaj)

Dominique: “Another one in the casket”… Surprise! It’s me because I’m fucking done. I’m so done with Katy Perry. I’m wondering if she’s got any kind of artistic integrity within her?. Chained to the Rhythm gave some allusion that she might… but then again that was also a universal, derivative pop song so it kind of cancels itself out? Swish Swish should have just been Nicki Minaj ft. Katy Perry because Nicki’s verse is literally the only good part of this song. 1.5

Zanda: There are so many reasons why I hate this. Not least of which they’ve taken that sample used by Fatboy Slim in Star 69 and completely fucking butchered it with Nicki Minaj even singing it at the end. Holy shit I am so angry right now. I can’t even. It’s boring, and nothing is holding my interest here at all. 1

Sam: If she said, bin instead of basket, it would be a very literal representation of the way her career is heading right now. Another misguided, messy Katy Perry single that strips her of all the personality she had in her earlier singles. Thankfully, Nicki Minaj, who knows her way around a house beat by the way, steps in and saves the day. 2.5

Average Score: 1.6

Vince Staples - Big Fish

Dominique: This track is produced very cleanly. It has a nice, crisp sound and the backing melody/beats offer nice change ups which allow for a stimulating listening experience. Vince’s flow is a delight to listen to. I’m really into this. My chief complaint is that I wish it was a bit longer. 3.5

Zanda: I don’t always go nuts for everything Vince puts out, but i literally cannot stop listening to this. The beat is crazy addictive, and i love that slightly weird arpeggio that drives through the production. Clean and crisp, it’s a certified tune. 4

Sam: I must admit I wrote this off as a run-of-the-mill hip-hop track on first listen but repeat listens have totally pulled me in. Staples’ bars drip with charisma and build from each other like each word he uses was designed to be connected to the next. I’m really enjoying him as he edges closer to the mainstream while still retaining his original appeal. The Big Fish Theory is going to be huge. 4

Average Score: 3.83

Kilter - Shatter

Dominique: This song is fun, and again, is produced very nicely. The elements combine to create a dynamic sound throughout. It has a dirty shake-up about a minute into it, slowing down the tempo a bit which I really appreciate. The bassline is also verrryyy pleasurable... I just wanna get down to it.  4 Dominique’s Pick

Zanda: This is a track that you feel like Kilter has wanted to make for some time, but only releasing singles doesn’t allow for straying too much from the path of safety and the sound you know will succeed. Having heard the whole album, this has to be one of the best couple of tracks on it. Hard-hitting, and very explorative from Kilter - and as always, driven by his insane percussive abilities. 4.5

Sam: After a few softer, more melodic drops from Kilter it’s nice to hear him take on something that’s a little more club-based and meatier. I love the 1:50 mark when that drum ‘n’ bass-inspired beats comes and things start to get a little crazy. Hoping for a few more of these tunes on his album because this is where he really stands out from the pack. 3.5

Average Score: 4

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