First Impressions: Rita Ora, Vera Blue, Carly Rae Jepsen And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 05/30/2017

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 Kali Uchis, Vera Blue, Rita Ora, Halsey and Wafia face the jury.

Kali Uchis - Tyrant (Feat. Jorja Smith)

Zanda: There’s a lot to like about this track. The vocals are generally pretty entrancing and captivating, bound to these really nice complimentary counter-melodic phrases. Despite that, that sparse, triplet-feel rhythm section vibe is just super boring. Sure, as the song goes on, there are a few semi-engaging drum fills but it’s just so bloody repetitive, and for me even the most amazing vocals won’t ever save something as unengaging as that. 3

Dominique: Shit we are off to a good start this week. The sound is like a “kaleidoscope” of genres and it’s hypnotizing. The resonance of the vocals flawlessly blend with the backing track in a perfect harmony. All I have more to say is yes, yes yes yes yes YES! 4

Sam: This is such a perfect pairing. Kali and Jorja are both old souls and together they’ve created an instant classic. I love songs where it feels like the artists are showing off their vocals and that’s exactly what’s happening here. They’re running all around that vintage beat and making magic while they’re at it. 4

Average Score: 3.6

Vera Blue - Mended

Zanda: It’s really cool to hear Vera Blue to something a bit more understated like this. I feel like in her biggest hits of the year her voice has been somewhat overshadowed by crazy filthy drops in the production. In Mended there’s a lot more relying on her ability to deliver the various parts of the song in different ways and it's a track that is held together by her vocals rather than featuring them at points. More of this! 4

Dominique: I am a huge fan of Vera’s music. She draws me in with her beautiful, angelic vocals that twist and grind with the music so delectably I genuinely feel like I may melt. ‘Mended’ is no exception. In fact, I think her production has upped itself ten-fold on this tune. The song progresses and builds up an exhilarating emotive climax. I am feeling this song in my bones and loving every second. Well done Vera! 4.5 Dominique’s Pick

Sam: I was very anti Vera Blue’s last release and starting to worry that she was falling further into the electronic world which is becoming very uninspiring. Thankfully, with this release she’s restored my faith. This is the best thing she’s released since Hold because the production gives her vocals space to shine and the melody is so fragile. The song builds and the instrumental gets denser but the feeling still remains intact. It’s worth noting too, some of the vocal runs on this are stupidly ridiculous. 4

Average Score: 4.16

Carly Rae Jepsen - Cut To The Feeling

Zanda: Well if we weren’t sure if Carly Rae Jepsen was going to continue her resurgence that began in 2016 by working with Danny L Harle, then now we know for sure. I really love the vocal effects that are used to layer her vocals over each other, and it doesn’t feel over-saturated at all. Cut To The Feeling may be my favourite song of Jepsen’s, ever. It’s clean and it’s catchy, but there’s also these kind of echoey production and vocal effects that feel like they’re referencing a pretty integral part of Harle’s classic PC Music sound. I could be biased, as I love Danny so much, but I think that working with him has made Carly a better artist. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Dominique: Fuck I am upset that I had to go from the last two masterpieces to this HUGE pile of absolute derivative turd.  This is FUCKED. Carly is really, really trying hard to make this an emotive pop banger, but honestly when you start with the cliché “clap” sound you’re just lying to yourself. WHY THE FUCK YOU LYIN’ CARLY?????? 0.5

Sam: The greatest artist making straight-out pop music is back with another masterpiece. This feels very inline with everything that was on E.MO.TION and given that everything on that (even the B-sides) were brilliant, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a big, euphoric popstar with all roads leading towards the celebratory chorus, just the way it should be. This is probably a Carly off-cut, handed to a movie and yet it might be one of the best pop songs of the year. How exactly does she do it? 4.5

Average Score: 3.16

Wafia - 83 Days

Zanda: Wafia is such a powerful force in music at the moment, and this is a really cool example of what she’s capable of. Pop sensibilities swirl within some some spine-tingling harmonies. It’s perhaps not even enough to call her voice inimitable, because she’s creating a type of music that no other singer-songwriter is anywhere close to. 4

Dominique: Wafia has such a smooth, mellifluous vocal sound. This heartfelt electro-pop track is smoothly produced and carries a pleasing layered effect. I do find this song a little bit repetitive, and I find that it lacks some grit. However, the lyrics are effortlessly poetic and romantic which is a hanging point. Wafia is making her impact very swiftly on the Australian music scene and I am thrilled to see what is to come. 3

Sam: Another really beautiful song from Wafia that puts a focus on every song that falls from her mouth. While it’s always about that fragile, pristine vocals, I love how visual all the lyrics are. The “83 days” hook is genius and really adds depth to the song. 3.5

Average Score: 3.5

Rita Ora - Your Song

Zanda: Overall it’s a decent pop song, as in there’s nothing obviously wrong with it. In saying that, I just feel like it lacks the substance to stand out from the pack of pop singers. I’m assuming the minimal production is supposed to force Ora’s voice to stand on its own but it just makes the whole thing sound pretty wishy washy and it just sounds weak. 2.5

Dominique: I feel like I’ve heard this song before. The melody is commonly familiar, as is the “click” percussion sound and pretty much all the lyrics. Not great, Rita, not great at all. I think Rita has a fabulous, textured voice and I wish she’d drop this derivative crap and make some interesting/actually good music.  2

Sam: I just really want Rita Ora to succeed and I can’t really pinpoint why. All the things that infuriate others seem to only make me like her more which is probably why I’m championing this song like nothing else. She may be the poor man's Rihanna but that's better than the rich man's Katy Perry, isn't it? In a year where even Katy Perry feels like she can’t give us straight-up pop songs, how bloody good is it to have a simple, no frills pop song? This is supremely melodic, a little cheesy and all tied together by Ora’s undeniably personable vocal. Ask me in a month if my opinion on this is still the same and I’ll probably say no but please give me my moment. 4.5 Sam's Pick

Average Score: 3

Halsey - Strangers (Feat. Lauren Jauregui)

Zanda: I don’t know if it’s because this week has just been an overdose on female-sung pop songs but there’s nothing here that’s grabbed my attention in any way. Average. 2.5

Dominique: This a poppy track. It’s not particularly special to be quite honest. It’s going for an emotional build up but it really falls short of the mark. The vocals are textured and the lyrics are poetic… I just feel like this song is lacking something to keep me motivated in listening to it. 2.5

Sam: I’ve always thought that Halsey songs would be better if she wasn’t such a bland vocalist and she’s proved it with this. By putting Lauren on this track, she’s exposed all her own vocal flaws. Lauren’s part is great because of her husky vocal but the rest of this song is limp.  2.5

Average Score: 2.5

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