4X4: Cold Water vs. Can't Stop the Feeling vs. Ride vs. Just Like FireSpark_Of_Life You know the drill. Let's jump right in.
Major Lazer certainly didn't make a good debut with their 2013 atrocity, "Bubble Butt". The less said about that... thing, the better. But they made their triumphant return summer last year (2015) with "Lean On", an insanely catchy Indian acid trip with DJ Snake and MO (more from her later) along for the ride (more on that later as well). It placed at #9 on "best of 2015" list. If their other single from the album, "Powerful" (an amazing ballad with Ellie Goulding and Taurus Riley that more than lives up to it's name), would have been a bigger hit, it certainly would've been in the top 3 at least. They laid low for a while after that, until earlier this summer, with the release of "Light it Up" with Nyla and Fuse ODG. It was well-meaning, but kind of annoying and the music video was creepy as hell. So I was just as surprised as anyone when they débuted at #2 last week with their JB and MO collaboration, "Cold Water". And I gave it a listen. And, well... it's just OK. The instrumentals, with powerful synths and a short guitar riff during the hooks and verses, are pretty decent but they don't really stand out. The lyrics are basically meaningless, as they're just about how two people still love each other even though they're in different relationships now. I'm at a loss as to why they didn't call it "I Won't Let Go", because 'cold water' is said only twice in the lyrics while "I won't let go" is said nine times. Maybe they didn't want to confuse Frozen fans. Justin's vocals... are pretty terrible. He sounds very whiny and nasal while sounding insincere at the same time. The best part of the song is MO's all too brief verse, which shows but does not highlight her amazing vocal range. She should have been the main singer, while Justin should have been the guest. Then it probably would have gotten a better score from me. Which is a 5/10. This is listenable, and maybe even "I-won't-change-the-rail-station-when-this-comes-on" material, but it certainly doesn't warrant a #2 début.
Justin Timberlake's career (that is, the quality of his work) can be traced in a graph. A steady line near the bottom from 1995-2002, a brief spike in 2003, a steady one 2004-2005, a major spike in 2006-2007, a steady line 2008-2012, and a relatively small spike 2013 before becoming a line again 2014- Now. It's up to you if his latest single, the earwormingly saccharine "Can't Stop The Feeling(!) is a major spike, a line or a heavy drop. If the other users on this site are to be believed, JT's line should hit the center of the earth anytime now. But for me, it's only a light drop. I'm not even going to try and argue CSTF is not overplayed, I hear this damn song at least 345579819789607372 times every week on my local radio station. But that's not to say it's unbearable. The lyrics are hollow and meaningless, masked under the "inspirational" banner, but it's not nearly as guilty of this as Katy Perry's awful piece of trash "Roar" - I could listen to JT say "We flying high no ceiling when we in our zone" on a continuous loop. His vocals are decent, but way too high in some places - you have some completion, Arianna Grande and Adam Levine. The instrumentals are decent - they're not great, but they're certainly not bad. But, there's some bad news: this song is a failure as a candidate as the "song of the summer". It managed to squeeze one week out at the #1 spot, but it couldn't overtake Drake's pretty decent "One Dance" (which I covered on the first installment of 4X4). So this gets a 6/10. It's OK while it lasts, but it's overplayed to death and I'd be perfectly happy never hearing it again.
twenty one pilots are a very, very talented band, in case you haven't noticed. "Stressed Out" is nostalgic and hauntingly sad without sounding preachy. "Tear in My Heart" is quirky and insanely sweet. I'm covering "Heathens" on the next episode of 4X4, so you'll have to wait for my opinion on that one. But "Ride"..." Ride" is true masterpiece and is in the running already for the top spot on my "Best of 2016" list. I already covered the brilliant lyrics on the first installment of "Deep Lyrical Analysis", so go check that out if you're curious. And look - it only had one writer, and it's already the best song lyrically of 2016, unlike "M.I.L.F.$" which had four writers and is the worst damn song I've heard in a long long time. It just goes to show you that the old style of writing and recording needs to come back... but I'll admit, I'm a sucker for mindless pop. Tyler's vocals are great, as always, with the perfect balance of mockery, depression, and power. But what really elevates this from great to outstanding is the instrumentals from the very talented other half of the group, Josh Dun. With the drums, pianos, tropical synth beat, and cymbals, coupled with all the other great aspects of the song, give this a strong 10/10. This is one of the best songs I've heard in a while.
If you would have told me in 2008 that Pink was going to release a song like "Just Like Fire" in a few years, I would have called you crazy. But here we are today, with the song on our radios and the movie it's from in the trash, where it belongs. Unlike this song. The main problem I have with "Just Like Fire" is that it doesn't fit in Pink's repertoire. Sure, she's released inspirational songs before (the decent "F***in' Perfect" and the quite good "Raise Your Glass"), but those songs had an edge to them - something in them that made it Pink's own. "Just Like Fire" could be sung by anyone from Taylor Swift to Rachel Pattern (who's had her fair share of crappy "inspirational" songs). But that's not to say it's bad. It's certainly better lyrically than most other inspirational songs, although it's not quite clear just who she's trying to empower. The chorus and first verse is about herself, the second verse is about her and another person's relationship, and the third verse is directly about the viewer. This needed a clearer subject. The instrumentals are decent but quite vapid - the guitars are nothing new and the hand claps seem strangely out of place. Pink's vocals are great, as always, but you can tell she had some help with autotune - it's just noticeable enough to be distracting. So, all in all, a 6.5/10.
Until next time.
Closer vs Let Me Love You vs This GIrl vs No Money? - ProPanda
I would give No Money a 1/5 - AlphaQ
Let Me Love You: 2/5
This Girl: 0/5
No Money: 1/5 - AlphaQ
Cold Water: 2/5 (overplay has been stronger than I thought it would be)
Can't Stop The Feeling: 2/5
Just Like Fire: 1/5 - WonkeyDude98
Edit: Just Like Fire: 0/5 - WonkeyDude98
Cold Water: 2/5
Just Like Fire: 1/5 - ProPanda
Cold Water: 4.5/5
Just like Fire: 3/5 - Hotheart123
Cold Water 5/5
Can't Stop The Feeling 4/5
Just Like Fire 3/5 - JoDBoss
Cold Water: 2/5
Can't Stop the Feeling: 3.5/5
Just Like Fire: 1/5 - AlphaQ