Category Archives: Reviews: Music

Reviews of music for reference purposes

New Music Fridays: 28 July ’17

>> About New Music Fridays

More fresh tunes are released every Friday than on any other day of the week by artists all over the world, and I’m here to offer some insights on a selected few. Whether it’s Justin Bieber, a local artist I haven’t heard of, or a breakthrough artist releasing his/her first single, feel free to leave comments with any music release you’d like me to keep tabs on.

>> Spotlight Reviews: New songs I particularly enjoyed today

Sober by Cheat Codes & Nicky Romero

Click to listen on Spotify.

  • Lyrics
  • American DJ trio Cheat Codes collaborated with Dutch DJ Romero on this techno pop track about finally realising one’s true feelings when drunk. As the chorus puts it, “I wouldn’t say it sober / But the truth is coming out / I didn’t miss you until now, until now.” The lyrics overall are simple and straightforward, grounded on the relatable human experience of being unable to entirely shake off a person from one’s mind. The high-pitched, autotuned singing sounds haunting yet tormented, as if it’s a symbolism for the way the speaker is haunted by the memories of the person he/she is trying to forget. This is illustrated by lyrics like “God, he almost looks like you in the dark”, “he’s looking at me but he doesn’t have your eyes”, and many more. The drop after the chorus is pretty generic for techno pop songs, and although I can hear a hint of Cheat Codes’ signature remix style, it’s barely enough to truly stand out. Frankly, I think they should’ve sampled and experimented with more adventurous, quirky sounds. That being said, the lyrics and beat come together very nicely to create a strong flow, making this track immediate radio material.

Streets Of Gold by Isaiah

Click to listen on Spotify.

  • Lyrics
  • After representing Australia in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest last May, we haven’t heard much from Isaiah Firebrace this year. That is, until today. This winner of The X Factor Australia released an acoustic pop single titled Streets of Gold, which revolves around yearning the presence of that special someone who feels like home. Lyrics-wise, I love the few juxtapositions in diction found within the song, such as in phrases like “it’s like a dream, but I’m wide awake” and “on a road with no destination.” The repetition of “you” also underlines the tone of longing the lyrics is based on. Furthermore, I think the decision to primarily rely on the plucking of an acoustic guitar to grace Isaiah’s vocals is a brilliant one. With its David-Archuleta-like texture, Isaiah’s voice is very dynamic and pleasant that I reckon I’d be happy just listening to him a cappella. On top of this, the instruments and his voice are so well-integrated that it allows the entire song to sound easy-going and flow rather smoothly; I particularly like the seemingly effortless transition into the chorus. This makes it easy for listeners to lose themselves in the song, as if they themselves are “walking through the streets of gold.”

>> Honourable Mentions: Other great songs released during the week that I wish I have time to review

>> Previous Post On This Category: New Music Fridays: 21 July ’17

Disclaimer For Reviews

New Music Fridays: 21 July ’17

>> About New Music Fridays

More fresh tunes are released every Friday than on any other day of the week by artists all over the world, and I’m here to offer some insights on a selected few. Whether it’s Justin Bieber, a local artist I haven’t heard of, or a breakthrough artist releasing his/her first single, feel free to leave comments with any music release you’d like me to keep tabs on.

>> Spotlight Reviews: New songs I particularly enjoyed today

Back To You by Louis Tomlinson, Bebe Rexha & Digital Farm Animals (explicit)

Click to listen on Spotify.

  • Lyrics
  • Not going to lie, it took a few repeats before this song really catches on for me, but once it does, the rest is history. This is the second single by Tomlinson as a solo artist, and this time, he delivers a techno pop track about loving and hating a person at the same time. This love-hate theme is made evident by lyrics such as, “I love it, I hate it, and I can’t take it / But I keep coming back to you.” Having Rexha on this song is a brilliant decision, not only because her voice complements Tomlinson’s really well, but also because the man-woman contrast makes it sound as if both parties are taunted by the drug-like compulsion of the relationship (or as the lyrics put it, “addicted to the drama”). Rexha’s voice gives the track a strong start, and her signature falsetto as well as texture inject it with unique sounds throughout. Additionally, it still surprises me how nice it is to listen to Tomlinson’s vocals alone after trying to distinguish it from four to five others for the past five years. His voice has such a defining David Archuleta-like characteristic that makes it instantly recognisable. I think the equaliser and filter applied to Tomlinson’s vocals during the bridge is a nice touch, because the resulting megaphone-like effect underlines the conflicted tone. Furthermore, having only vocals and piano at the start of the last chorus run makes both singers sound all the more bothered and contemplative. Melody-wise, this song gives off clear pop vibes, and the verses somehow sound like a slowed down version of Liam Payne’s Strip That Down. I’m not saying that this is bad, because most of pop music is recycled melodies anyway, but as Tomlinson and Payne are former bandmates, it’s reasonable that they’re drawn to similar melodies. Lastly, I love the variety of diction used in the verses and pre-choruses to reiterate the overarching love-hate feel; this highlights the frustration that comes with being in the troubling relationship.

She’s On My Mind by JP Cooper

Click to listen on Spotify.

  • Lyrics
  • Yet another lovely tropical house/pop/reggae tune from the English singer-songwriter JP Cooper! His songs are always so likeable and playful to listen to, and this one’s no exception. With She’s On My Mind, Cooper sings about being unable to shake off an ex, as exemplified by these lyrics from verse two: “My friends say that she’s a keeper / But I let her go / Didn’t know how much I need her / ‘Til I was on my own.” I tend to find excessive repetition of phrases in a song tedious and uninspired, but that’s not at all the case with this song. The repetition of “she’s on my mind” is catchy and persistent, as if it symbolises the pressing and recurring nature of the thoughts about the ex. Having the voice of a woman on the intro and interlude also helps represent this, because it illustrates that this ex is on the forefront of the speaker’s mind. Vocally, Cooper’s voice is so distinctive and pleasant to the ear that listening to his songs is honestly always a treat. The lyrics of this song is also well-written; I especially like the rhymes on the verses. Accompanying Cooper’s vocals only with the plucking of an acoustic guitar at the start of the bridge is a delicate touch that makes his voice more heart-wrenching and the lyrics more personal. Finally, it’s easy to just end the song by repeating “she’s on my mind” four times again, but Cooper added two concluding lines about why this is. “I can’t sleep at night / ‘Cause she ain’t by my side” leaves the song on a confessional yet helpless tone, implying that the speaker just has to weather the storm until he/she gets over the ex.

Drowning by KREAM & Clara Mae

Click to listen on Spotify.

  • Lyrics
  • I almost didn’t want to write a spotlight review for this song because I was running out of time. Almost. But I enjoyed the song so much that I just had to write a quick review! Right off the bat, I love Mae’s voice. I think it’s absolutely beautiful and having it on a dance pop track such as this one is really fitting. The lyrics and drop of the chorus are rather catchy, especially the part that says, “We’re drowning out / And you know I’ve been thirsty for a while now / Drowning out / But you won’t taste a drop with your mouth.” Prior to this song, the brother DJ duo KREAM have previously collaborated with Mae on another dance pop hit song called Taped Up Heart. In fact, I think I like Drowning because it’s similar to Taped Up Heart in many ways. The techno tune created by KREAM and the Rihanna-meets-Ellie-Goulding quality to Mae’s vocals prove to be a powerful combo for both Taped Up Heart and Drowning, and something tells me this is not the last of it.

>> Honourable Mentions: Other great songs released during the week that I wish I have time to review

>> Previous Post On This Category: New Music Fridays: 14 July ’17

Disclaimer For Reviews

New Music Fridays: 14 July ’17

>> About New Music Fridays

More fresh tunes are released every Friday than on any other day of the week by artists all over the world, and I’m here to offer some insights on a selected few. Whether it’s Justin Bieber, a local artist I haven’t heard of, or a breakthrough artist releasing his/her first single, feel free to leave comments with any music release you’d like me to keep tabs on.

>> Spotlight Reviews: New songs I particularly enjoyed today

Same To You by The Vamps

Click to listen on Spotify.

  • Lyrics
  • British pop rock band The Vamps released their third studio album today titled Night & Day (Night Edition). This ten-track record features hit singles such as Middle Of The Night (ft. Martin Jensen) and All Night (ft. Matoma), and is the first album of the two-part Night & Day project, with the Day Edition album scheduled to be released this coming December. The fourth song on the record, Same To You, is a post-breakup tune that calls out one’s ex and questions whether she has truly moved on. The repetitiveness of the melody creates a much-needed daunting and confrontational feel to the song, yet the vocals sound conversational due to lyrics like “Hey girl, what’s up? What’s on your mind?” The lyrics are pretty generic, but the catchiness of the chorus is undeniable and I feel like the generic diction helps in this case. Notably, I love the lyrical transition between the first verse and the bridge, where it starts off from being about the other person in the break up to being about oneself. For example, verse one says, “I know you can’t sleep, it’s past three, and you’re still up,” whereas the bridge says, “Now it’s past three and I’m still up.” I love the parallels drawn by this transition technique as it makes the narrative come full circle. Furthermore, it also adds a layer to the song, because now in addition to being confrontational, the song is also confessional. Overall, I’d say Same To You is a great post-breakup anthem with high commercial potential; it’s relatable, simple, and catchy – what more do you really need?

Goodbye by Echosmith

Click to listen on Spotify.

  • Lyrics
  • After three years of hiatus from releasing originals following lead guitarist/oldest brother Jamie Sierota’s departure from the band of siblings, Echosmith is finally back with an upcoming sophomore album on the horizon called Inside A DreamGoodbye is a single on the record and the first look into how the sound of the band has transformed. The inviting acoustic guitar melody, coupled with Sidney’s characteristic voice, make for an enticing opening, and it’s as if they’re easing us into a new phase in their growth as band. When the drums become more prominent in the chorus, the shade-throwing vibe is instantly amplified and it’s such a pleasant surprise. Lyrics-wise, the verses have a delicate air around them and are absolutely beautifully written. To give you a glimpse, the first verse says, “Try not to let the burn become a scar / What’s left of me is only broken parts / You take the pretty and colour it dark / My only grievance is a broken heart.” Moreover, phrases such as “you cover up the poison with poetry” truly made the song sound honest, poetic, and original. The chorus is simple and repetitive, but this strongly highlights the unsettling request of the words. That being said, the track itself is easy to listen to, which ultimately creates the feel that we’re the ones saying goodbye and we’re chill about it. As the last “goodbye” is sung and the melody ends, the song lives up to its name by giving listeners a definitive ending. If this song is a testament to Echosmith’s transformed sound, then we should expect less electric-guitar-centred alt-pop, and more songs involving synths and drums, and honestly, I see no reason to complain.

>> Honourable Mentions: Other great songs released during the week that I wish I have time to review

>> Previous Post On This Category: New Music Fridays: 7 July ’17

Disclaimer For Reviews

New Music Fridays: 7 July ’17

>> About New Music Fridays

More fresh tunes are released every Friday than on any other day of the week by artists all over the world, and I’m here to offer some insights on a selected few. Whether it’s Justin Bieber, a local artist I haven’t heard of, or a breakthrough artist releasing his/her first single, feel free to leave comments with any music release you’d like me to keep tabs on.

>> Spotlight Reviews: New tracks I particularly enjoyed today

All My Love by Cash Cash & Conor Maynard

Click to listen on Spotify.

  • Lyrics
  • Co-written by Cash Cash, Lauv, and Michael PollackAll My Love is a song about yearning the presence of someone who’s already gone, a rather integral part of getting over someone after a break up. I’ve been a long-time fan of Maynard’s vocals; I’d say it’s a combination of Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars, but even that wouldn’t really do it justice. Hot chocolate to a drinks menu is Conor Maynard’s voice to pop music: distinctive, heart-warming, and very much likeable (borderline addictive, even). After collaborating with Kris Kros Amsterdam and then CMC$ on his last two releases, it’s clear that Maynard plans to continue his venture into EDM with this track. Do we miss when it was just his voice and the piano? Of course, but it’s difficult to complain when his voice also blends amazingly well with all the synth loops, catchy beats, and bass drops – honestly, I’m excited for more EDM songs by the British singer. What’s great about Maynard on this particular track is that the texture of his voice boosts the air of confusion and desperation needed to deliver lyrics such as “I’m sick of your face, but can’t look away” and “can’t go out (out), can’t stay home (home home), I don’t know how, how to be alone.” For a pop dance song, its melody and lyrics are pretty predictable, but this in itself is not surprising as the genre significantly thrives on familiarity. The tune that follows the post-chorus drop is catchy and I reckon some great remixes are in bound. Ultimately, this is a song with great commercial value that’s suitable for both radio and club plays.

Why by Sabrina Carpenter

Click to listen on Spotify.

  • Lyrics
  • Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Joe Jonas… It’s easy to dismiss Carpenter as yet another Disney child actor turned pop star story, but with one EP, two studio albums, and another album currently recording in just three years, her work rate clearly proves that she’s a force to be reckoned with. Why is the first peek into Carpenter’s third album SC3 and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The lyrics describes a great relationship between two individuals who are completely different – the classic opposites attract narrative. From liking New York City during different times of the day to dealing differently with cold weather, I love the unique and personal examples used to illustrate the individual disparities that make up the verses. The song starts off with a playful, inviting melody that smoothly transforms into a catchy tune that would pass the track as one by The Chainsmokers; frankly, if Selena Gomez and The Chainsmokers were to collaborate, this is how I imagine their song would sound. Undoubtedly, however, Carpenter’s solid vocals is the best aspect of this track. Her voice has an intriguing quality that incites curiosity amongst listeners, and coupled with impeccable pronunciation, it’s the ideal means of storytelling through songs. Following the massive success of her second studio album Evolution, this song successfully leaves listeners eager and excited for SC3.

>> Honourable Mentions: Other great tracks released today that I wish I have time to review

>> Previous Post On This Category: New Music Fridays: 30 June ’17

Disclaimer For Reviews

New Music Fridays: 30 June ’17

A brand new type of post on this blog! Tons of fresh tunes are released every Friday by artists all over the world and I’m here to offer some insights on a selected few. Whether it’s Justin Bieber, a local artist I haven’t heard of, or a breakthrough artist releasing his/her first single, feel free to leave comments with any music releases you’d like me to keep tabs on.

>> Spotlight Reviews: New tracks I particularly enjoyed today

Seasons by Greyson Chance

Click to listen on Spotify.

  • Lyrics
  • There’s probably a good reason why Chance rose to prominence over a viral YouTube video of him singing whilst playing the piano, and that reason is likely to be that the combination of his signature melodic voice and the piano is perfectly sufficient to make hearts swell. In Seasons, Chance sings about progressing through life, a concept that’s so simple yet universal. Its opening melody is calming and gentle, easily welcoming listeners into the song. The song itself has an air of both desperation and hope that’s elegantly complemented by daunting flow and backing vocals. If venturing into the future was to be captured in a song, this is a stellar example. At first listen, it’s difficult to pick up all the lyrics, but the phrase “I move forward like the seasons” is definitely one that resonates (and not just because it’s repeated more than any other phrase). Stylistically, this song is consistent with his previous solo releases such as London and Hit & Run, which is arguably a testament to Chance’s commitment to consolidating and refining his identity as an artist.

Faking It by Calvin Harris, Kehlani & Lil Yachty (explicit)

Click to listen on Spotify.

  • Lyrics
  • Harris dropped a new ten-track, star-studded record today called Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 and it’s such a fun (and as the album title suggests, funky) album for welcoming the summer! After listening to snippets of each track, I’ve decided that Faking It is an early favourite of mine. The intriguing bass start successfully establishes the confrontational tone of the song, which centres around post-breakup inconsistencies as indicated by phrases such as “why you, why you, why you checking if you’re over it?” and “why you, why you say let go if you’re still holding it?” The transition from the groovy bass line to a more upbeat, danceable tune is done flawlessly, and I love that the bass is still used to consistently anchor the song. I can easily visualise this playful song being played in beach bars, and as far as summer tunes go, this one’s full of viral potential. Both Kehlani and Lil Yachty are amazing choices for this track, and there are moments when a Rihanna-like quality to Kehlani’s vocals is apparent. I’d be curious to hear the reasoning for including Lil Yachty’s conversational bit at the end, but I certainly agree with what he’s saying about Kehlani.
  • Side note: We may never know if this song is a jab at Harris’ ex Taylor Swift, but it’s difficult to ignore the possibility given that “same old fucking story, everybody sings”, “stone cold diva”, and “better at faking it than me” are included in the lyrics. These and a few other examples might be hinting at the fact that Swift is notorious for singing about her exes and has been claimed as a diva as well as a fake, but I really shouldn’t be a judge of this.

Leave Me Alone by K.S.I (explicit)

Click to listen on Spotify.

  • Lyrics
  • After over three months of social media hiatus, mega YouTube influencer Olajide Olatunji more commonly known as JJ or KSI makes an unexpected comeback by releasing his third album today after EPs Keep Up and Jump Around in 2016. It took me a while to find the songs on Spotify, because as opposed to releasing them on the KSI account, this album was posted under K.S.I instead (subtle difference but trust me this made it tricky). Anyway, Leave Me Alone is the third song on the six-track record and it’s an expression of JJ’s wish for people to just, well, leave him alone. This seems to be the overarching theme and running motive throughout the entire album, as encapsulated by the record title itself: Space. The underlying beat is nothing out of the ordinary, but the aggressive flow and eloquent rhymes are certainly the track’s stronger suits. There are so many quote-worthy bits to this song, but the chorus is definitely a highlight for me. From World of Warcraft character Leeroy Jenkins to Komodo dragons, the diverse references interweaved into the lyrics keep listeners, even those who are hardcore KSI fans, thinking and guessing. Consequently, I feel that this song is a successful embodiment of who JJ is as an influencer, because he certainly likes to keep everyone guessing and you never know what’s around the corner.

>> Honourable Mentions: Other great tracks released today that I wish I have time to review

Disclaimer For Reviews