First Impressions: Zara Larsson, Katy Perry, Wafia And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 07/16/2020

First Impressions is our weekly review features. We take six songs and give our writers the chance to give their two cents on each. This week, we’re zoning in on Zara Larsson's comeback, Katy Perry's album title track, a sweet cut from Wafia and more.

Zara Larsson - Love Me Land

Anthony: Zara has consistently produced singles that stick with me after a first listen. This is no exception. Here Zara sings with a demand to be heard – drawing the listener in throughout the verses. The production is sporadic which may leave some first listeners looking for familiarity. Although with a run time of 2:40, it leaves me wanting more.

Kate: Oh man this was added to my mix within 30 seconds.  It’s a dramatic pop track that hits a bit different - think super pop queen like a Dua Lipa or a Camila Cabello over a Finneas O’Connell production.  I also feel like the film clip was shot during iso but they’ve nailed it. 4

Sam: To be honest, this one kind of floated over me on the first listen but then I saw the video. Now I'm of the opinion this is Larsson's best single. The way she takes these odd, off-kilter verses and injects them with this controlled power is extraordinary. She goes pedal to the metal and then pulls it off for a second to whisper words like "vocabulary". Decadent and skilful. 4.5

Katy Perry - Smile

Anthony: I pressed play on this with a sense of worry – Katy has been hit and miss for a while.  With the song starting off with the chorus, I found myself bopping my head in time to the beat. Unfortunately starting with the chorus hurt its engagement for me and caused the verses to lack energy. This left me coasting throughout the rest of my listen. Katy doesn’t’ reach anything exciting or new here but I appreciate the positive outlook in the lyrics. 2

Kate: I think it’s probably a decent track if you usually enjoy KP.  For me her brand/music is a little generic, with some exceptions that are few and far between.  This was no exception.  I made it most of the way through and I think it’s ok.  I’ll prepare myself for months of radio station flicking that will no doubt follow this release.  We have another iso film clip example and it’s interesting to see the creative direction the directors are going in during this time.  Also props to KP for delivering this energy at such a late stage of pregnancy (also for not doing the standard Hollywood cover-up 🙌). 2.5

Sam: Katy tried daring pop on her last record and it didn't work so now she's playing it safe. Both Daisies and this are enjoyable but you'd be hard-pressed to argue that this is great. While the chorus is sticky enough, the production is so dated. It's all very inoffensive. 3

Wafia - Hurricane

Anthony: Wafia proves herself once again as a pop storyteller. The mid-tempo bop builds to a chorus that subtly peaks to a level that gets you up and dancing around in your bedroom like you are on top of a cloud. I love the contrast of the lyrics between getting over a lover to seeking the company of someone to calm your storm. This is complex writing to convey in a pop song and Wafia does this with ease while also taking the listener to paradise. 4

Kate: Gorgeous little wholesome song with a gorgeous little wholesome clip.  Sorry to keep banging on about iso clips but this one leans into the situation and (despite a couple of naughty hugs) kind of provides a snapshot of what life is like at the moment (baking, wilderness walks, dancing, video calls, and yes, loneliness); but with cute, heart-warming moments and feel-good vibes throughout, which mirror the feel of the song itself.  Wafia, I’m sending you a care react. 4.5

Sam: Watching Wafia's growth has been extraordinary. She's gone from being an introverted popstar to a self-love preacher. The nicest thing apart Hurricane is it combines both sides of her personality. It's giving and warm but it's also somewhat insular. A real high point for Wafia. 4

100 Gecs - Came To My Show

Anthony: Having never heard a 100 Gecs song, this took me by surprise. The pre-chorus builds the tension effectively to a bold chorus that forces you to pay attention. This is not a typical song I would play but I’d bounce to it if it came on at a house party but I don’t feel the need to listen again. 1.5

Kate: First impressions: I don’t care for it.  It’s not without value and I’d be open to hearing other compositions of theirs; but even though I gave it two spins just in case I missed something the first time around, I feel the same as Anthony in that I also don’t feel the need to listen again.  2 

Sam: 100 Gecs are making some of the most challenging music right now. I'm a big fan and while I don't think Came To My Show is as strong as some of the album highlights, I think it's good. The funny thing is, behind all the wild production there's an A-grade pop song in its purest form. 4

Baby Queen - Buzzkill

Anthony: We’ve all been there, our friends making us feel bad for not being in the partying mood. I love this perspective and how Baby Queen illustrates this through the lyrics and production. The bridge made me fall in love with this song - its climax replicating the frustration of not being understood. On a personal note, Baby Queen got me thinking “parties are supposed to be fun” but are they really? 3.5  

Kate: Ok, so I’m open to the possibility (probability?) that I’m the only one who’s mind went here, but the verses instantly made me think of that Baz Luhrmann song ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)’ song, with the monologue over a simple backing.  Nek minnit Charli XCX takes over, only with stronger lyrics.  Damn this is so strong.  I’m obsessed.  Cheers The Interns.  Are we allowed to swear on here? Because farken hell this is the goods. 5

Sam: I hadn't heard of Baby Queen before last week but I'm thankful Buzzkill put me onto her. She's got one of those immediate personalities that makes it easy to catch an artist's vibe almost instantly. Buzzkill is a little obnoxious, a little vulnerable and a lot of fun. 4

Ashnikko - DAISY

Anthony: Ashnikko raps with an attitude here – she’s got a point to prove. She’s assertive in her delivery in the verses. I lost it at “no dicktractions”. It’s a fun statement song that gave me a good laugh, maybe not as big as her mid song laugh but enough to warrant a second listen. 2.5

Kate: “Bow down and kiss on my ring”, I guess she’s saying you can simultaneously kiss her arse while recognising her as your superior.  She obviously has strong wordplay and excellent delivery, but I’m not convinced she can compete with the Cardi B’s of the world for my limited attention.  Also I’m still thinking about Baby Queen. My God.  3.5

Sam: I don't know about Ashnikko yet. It's just not clicking. I like that it's rap paired with 100 Gecs-esque production but the hooks just aren't cutting through for me. Daisy is good but not good enough to catch new fans. 2.5

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