First Impressions is our weekly chance to go head-to-head on the new tunes of the week. Each of the contributing writers reviews the track and then slaps a score out of 5 on it. This week the new Dua Lipa single, an Ariana Grande ‘Charlie’s Angels’ cut and a Haim banger are up.
Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now
Joshua: Despite it being another get-over-your-partner anthem by Dua Lipa, Don’t Start Now does it the right way. The infectious groove is the catalyst of foot-tapping, finger-wagging, head-nodding and busting a move on the dancefloor. But the highlight of this pearler would have to be the production. The robust bassline, keyboards and synth give it the disco-edge that makes me inclined to love this song tenfold. And the Studio 54 nod? Love your work, Dua. It has just about anything and everything for a certified pop bop, period. 4.5
Ti: Another perfect pop moment for Dua. You get worried when you hear that an artist is going to start exploring disco influences in their new music, because it can often feel really cheesy and dated, but the production on this makes it feel so current and fresh — it feels like it’s a glimpse into what the future of pop could be, while still being faithful to that disco sound she’s exploring. Dua’s bloody nailed it. 4.75
Holly: Every time I hear a track so perfectly engineered to be a bop it makes me wonder what magic formulas these people are following and what spells their casting. This feels like the revelation of hearing “One Kiss” for the first time all over again. 5
Sam: This was the moment that was either going to elevate her or drag her right now. Thankfully, it’s the former. Don’t Start Now is the perfect sound for her. The disco influence compliments her raspy voice and it sounds as if no one else could’ve released this which can’t really be said for a lot of her previous releases. She’s just stepped into superstar mode and it’s glorious. 4.5
Ariana Grande – Bad To You (Feat. Normani and Nicki Minaj)
Joshua: With three powerhouses linking up, I expected Bad To You to take me places. But must like the announcement of the Charlie’s Angels reboot, it didn’t really take off. The only redeeming quality of this song is the sultriness Normani exuded throughout. Get your well deserved coins, girl. 2.5
Ti: Maybe it’ll sound better after we’ve seen it used in the movie in a cinema. The problem is we’re all going to compare every song on the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack to Independent Women Pt 1, and it’s going to take something really huge to top that. 3.5
Holly: One of the Angels says something sassy to the male love interest, and he looks on with googoo eyes as the Angels run off to do secret agent things as “Bad To You” plays. And that’s the only reason this song was even made. Other than Normani crushing this track (that somehow moves from reggae to dubstep inspired?), it just needs an extra sprinkle of something to be more than background music after a girl power sexy moment. 2.5
Sam: A superstar lineup that just doesn’t create any magic at all. Reminds me of another song off the same soundtrack. 2
Haim – Now I’m In It
Joshua: Girls, you have done it again. Constantly raising the bar for us all and doing it flawlessly. All jokes aside, Now I’m In It is un-bloody-believable. Lyrically, it’s certainly a song that many can relate to – putting yourself through the ringer by immersing yourself in work so as to avoid dealing with your own emotions. But to me, the magic lies in the back end of the song. The throbbing baseline, foreground piano, drum solo and cathartic vocals? The recipe for a stunning sad banger *chef’s kiss*. And don’t get me started on the video. It’s just all so brilliant. 5.
Ti: Y’know what the verse of this reminds me of? Savage Garden’s I Want You. 4.5
Holly: Songs like this feel like they send a shot of adrenaline straight into you, maybe it’s that constant guitar strumming or the speedy + punchy lyrics delivery. It’s got one of those choruses that just feels really satisfying once it truly hits and grows so well throughout. The slow build of this track from sparse backing under vocals to grand electronica really pushes “Now I’m In It” to another level. 4.5
Sam: Haim said this was the most “Haim Haimy Haim” thing they’ve ever released and they’re right. While Want U Back felt like the same sort of sound they gave us on their debut, however, this one feels like an evolution. The beats punch harder, the guitars strum louder and the lyrics and rawer than ever. The way the song develops, from the stripped-back first-verse to the truncated dance break, is just perfect too. 4.5
Teyana Taylor – Morning (Feat. Kehlani)
Joshua: Three words: Sexy, steamy, stunning. Morning is a lush, sexed-up collab that only Teyana Taylor and Kehlani could deliver. Both of their vocals lend so well to one another and their chemistry is undeniable in the video. But aside from the very clear message of sex, this song is quite shallow. Sex doesn’t really offer itself to transcendence. But Teyana Taylor and Kehlani provide a titillating take to say the least. It’s raw (I hate myself for using this outrageous pun in this context) and enjoyable. 3.5
Ti: Imagine how good R&B is going to be into 2020 and beyond when we’ve got Teyana and Kehlani fronting up like this together. 4
Holly: This is…… unimaginably hot. Who knew the phrase “titties in your mouth” could actually sound sensual. It’s a nice track but I bet they’re counting on the mindless streams from people adding this to their sexy time playlists to get the numbers up for this collab. Even though the two of them are already mega talented, it kind of misses the mark. 3
Sam: My two favourite R&B vocalists without a doubt. I really think under anybody else’s guidance this song would’ve fallen flat but these two have such a chemistry that it sizzles from the first second. I love how slowly it moves and how they give the vocals room to breathe. While the lyrics may not be subtle, the delivery is and that’s everything. 4.5
Frank Ocean – In My Room
Joshua: Poppers are becoming such a staple in music and I’m totally here for it. Poppers rights! In just two minutes, Frank Ocean does what he does best. Spit bars, provide distinct gorgeous vocals and share his vulnerability with us all. But much like the length of In My Room, I’m going to keep the impression short and sweet – nothin’ exciting, but still good. 3.
Ti: Great. You’re rich and you do poppers and fuck. Very interesting and original. 0.5
Holly: This feels inspired by soundcloud rap but still also feels so Frank Ocean in its production. V interested to hear this in the context of the rest of the inevitable release, but no doubt this will be replayed heavily until then. 4
Sam: I really like this. I don’t think it’s on the level of Blonde just yet but it feels like he’s building towards something greater. It captures this the lust of the club without using a typical club beat but I think it’s all about that shift around 1:30. The “quit being violent with me,” pulls you right out of it and brings you right into reality. Frank has a knack of doing that. 4
Coldplay – Everyday Life
Joshua: [Redacted]. 1.
Ti: It’s certainly nowhere near as good as Orphans, and let’s be honest, you’re not listening to this, you’re listening to Orphans, which is a solid 3.5 to 3.75. I’m giving Everyday Life a 1, but if you’re a Coldplay fan you’ll probably give it a 2 or something.
Holly: Chris Martin has such a specific voice that feel like I can’t separate it from every other Coldplay song ever, is that bad? You can “Ok millenial” me I won’t be offended. 2
Sam: Criticising every Coldplay song is even boring for me now but I’ll have one more go. I actually like that they’re headed back in that Viva La Vida direction because I think that’s the best they’ve ever been as a band but lyrics on songs like this are just so basic. They attempt to unite people by using generalised words like “everyone” without ever acknowledging any nuances. It’s an easy way to write a song but it’s so ineffective. 2