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First Impressions: Rita Ora, Taylor Swift, SOPHIE And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 10/25/2017

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 Taylor Swift, Future & Young Thug, Liam Payne, SOPHIE, Ecca Vandal and Rita Ora face the jury.

Taylor Swift – Gorgeous

Ben Madden: Honestly, this track feels utterly forgetable. Long-term fans will love it, but nothing about it sticks out, and it feels like someone we’ve heard one too many times. Disappointing, considering how great 1989 was. Hopefully this is a low point in the album when it comes out. 2

Jackson Langford: I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU TAYLOR, WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU. HOW DARE YOU?!

Look, I was hoping for a hat trick. ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ was an absolute monster of a song that completely obliterated anyone’s expectations of what Swift might release and ‘…Ready For It?’ followed that trajectory. ‘Gorgeous’ sounds like 1989 Lite. It might be satire, but she already did that so well with ‘Blank Space’. Production-wise it’s bubbly and fun and it’s admittedly catchy, but it just seems like a part of Taylor’s reputation that we’ve heard about all before. 2.5

Sam Murphy: Yeah, I agree. Definitely a bit of a flat moment after the previous two singles but honestly, she can’t deliver an album of songs like the first two because people may begin to feel like they’ve been repeatedly slapped in the face. As a bit of a mood breaker, I love this song. The verses are effortless and the chorus is peak Taylor, a little dorky and clunky but somehow addictive. I’m also really enjoying hearing her voice over a minimal beat so yep, it’s 3/3 for me now with Tay and I hate myself. 4

Future & Young Thug – Patek Water (Feat. Offset)

Ben: Three of the biggest names in hip-hop coming together always promises to deliver a good time, and this delivers in spades. It’s hard to pick out a standout verse, but that makes it all the more enjoyable, with each rapper flexing like crazy. A highlight of their surprise mixtape Super Slimey. 4.5 Ben’s Pick

Jackson: One time I said Offset was the Michelle of Migos and I got crucified for it. Rightly so. This is a holy trinity for the vape generation. The slur of Future’s iconic vocals and the complete unpredictability of Thugger’s delivery work together so well throughout the entirety of Super Slimey, but never more so than here. Offset, clearly at home when he’s in a trio, bounces off the other two with charm and flair making it difficult to pick who stands out most. All I’m saying is, Ye and Jay, I’d be watching the throne too because there’s a whole bunch of standout newcomers ready to snatch it. 4

Sam: I feel the same way about this as I do about the whole album. It’s strong but it shows neither of the artists at their peak. Future’s two projects this year are still two of my favourites and I even really dug Thug’s country turn with Beautiful Thugger Girls. This, however, puts them right back in that Migos trap world and I just think they’ve got more to give. As good as this is, it’s not their best. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it because I’ve hit repeat a couple of times. 3.5

Liam Payne – Bedroom Floor

Ben: Liam really wants you to know that he’s having sex. Unfortunately, it’s hard to really care, with a somewhat interesting beat and lackluster vocals coming for a song that goes in one ear and out the other. 1.5

Jackson: Look, Liam was never going to be a Zayn or a Harry, but his unashamed head-first dive into uber-sexy pop/R&B is to be commended. ‘Strip That Down’ was and still is an underrated bop, and ‘Bedroom Floor’ looks like it’s going to cop the same treatment. Sure, it’s nothing spectacular, but does it have to be? It’s a fun, vulnerable song with summer-ready production and that typical JT-inspired vocals. And let’s be honest, it could be worse. It could be Louis. 3.5

Sam: Liam continues to be the best One Direction member apart from ZAYN trumping Niall Horan’s snoozefest of an album with this delightful lil’ tropical jam. After Strip That Down which bordered on kitsch, it’s cool to see him go with something less in your face and settle into solo popstar territory. I think he’s carving out a really great pop identity that should ensure his career lasts as One Direction disappears from the rearview mirror. 3.5

SOPHIE – It’s Okay To Cry

Ben: Doesn’t really have a wow factor at first, but it grows on you. And besides, everyone deserves to know that it’s ok to cry. Might not blow you away initially, but definitely gets better with repeat listens. 3.5

Jackson: WHAT A MOMENT. To appreciate music without context is to a disservice to the musician, the song and yourself. ‘It’s Okay To Cry’ is a vulnerable crack in the fortress-like facade that has been SOPHIE up until this point. It’s both understated and epic, placing SOPHIE at the forefront. It’s the beautiful climax to a stunning metamorphosis that SOPHIE has undergone in secret, hidden from the world. But it was never the world’s information to know. What’s important now is that SOPHIE is here, she is female and she is outpouring her vulnerability, her imperfections and her story for us to flood our minds with. 5 Jackson’s Pick

Sam: With SOPHIE’s permission I will cry about this song because it’s such a moment for her. With PC Music losing more and more steam, SOPHIE takes a sharp left turn and decided to really embrace her own image. This is the rawest and most honest we’ve ever heard SOPHIE but it also errs on the side of kitsch and is as glossy as any SOPHIE song that came before it. This really feels like the start of SOPHIE as an artist and it’s really bloody exciting. 4

Ecca Vandal – Your Orbit (Feat. Sampa The Great)

Ben: Two of the most exciting musicians in Australia going at it on the same track. You already know you’ve gotta check it out. Sampa the Great might just be the best rapper in Australia at the moment. 4

Jackson: This seems like a collaboration that just had to happen eventually. Ecca Vandal’s anarchist, rebellious energy fused with Sampa The Great’s perceptive wisdom is a match made in heaven. ‘Your Orbit’ might not be the expected result, but that just makes it so much better. When you’re expecting an onslaught of spitfire energy, we’re given a soulful and smooth slow-burner where the two women bounce off one another, taking this song to truly extra-terrestrial places. 4

Sam: I never would’ve paired these two together but on Your Orbit they meet at this really great intersection of hip-hop, punk and electronica and create something like nothing else that has come out of this country this year. The pair have such an effortless chemistry and I love the way Sampa hits the beat with her bars while Ecca lays back in it. It gives the song so much dynamic and I could listen to a whole album with these two. 4

Rita Ora – Anywhere

Ben: I’ve always had a soft spot for Rita Ora, and whilst this isn’t groundbreaking, it goes along at a great pace. Also sounds infinitely remixable, which is exciting. 3.5

Jackson: ‘Anywhere’ is a bold statement for Rita Ora to back up ‘Your Song’ with. The theme isn’t bold in the slightest, but the sheer vastness of the song is something we don’t see in pop anymore. A choir-ready chorus and a drop that is as unexpected as it is delightful perfectly bookends her raspy verses. This is subtle pop bravery at its finest, and I can’t wait to hear what she follows this up with in three years. 4

Sam: Every so often a pop song grabs my brain and says keep pressing repeat even when you think you can’t take anymore and this is one of them. I don’t want to get into the specifics of things like how she wrote a song about getting away from the city but then shot the video in the city because honestly I’m fine ignoring that. Let’s just appreciate that Rita Ora is the best thing to happen to us this week and there’s no use fighting it. This is a bloody gigantic pop song and I just want to give it an unexplained 5. So I’m gonna do it. 5

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