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“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Justin Timberlake
Jessica Whitesel: This is probably going to be the song of the summer and I don’t really know how to feel about that. I mean, it’s not the best song, but it’s also not the worst. You can dance to it, which is cool, but it’s pretty average and repetitive.
Sarah Finley: Definitely a catchy summery song that could easily be listened to on road trips. I’ve never really been a huge JT fan, but I can dig this one.
Courtney Miller: It’s fine. It’s very rhythmic with catchy lyrics, but I’m turned off by the random electronic alterations to his voice.
Nathan Ross: “Can’t Stop the Feeling” continues the unfortunate trend of bland, rhythmically repetitive songs where a singer declares how much they’re really feeling it, à la “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. I’m happy for Justin, but this isn’t his best work, and it’s too tailormade to be a flirty summer single. (For the record, the best “Happy” song belongs to C2C)
“Dark Necessities” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
JW: As always Flea’s bass playing is 10/10, but I wish they would ditch the Stadium Arcadium sound and go back to their earlier style. It’s not as bad as some of the songs that were on Stadium Arcadium, but it doesn’t really compare to songs like “Californication” and “Under the Bridge.”
SF: It’s truly impressive to me that Red Hot Chili Peppers are still cranking out music, but unfortunately this track is just kind of. . . dull. Subdued vocals and guitar scales don’t keep this listener’s interest.
CM: I feel like this isn’t their best song. Yes, the musicality is still there, but is doing weird electronic things with the sound a new trend? I find it makes the song discordant.
NR: It’s always tough to compare the Red Hot Chili Peppers to their old music as their roster keeps changing, and guitarist Josh Klinghoffer isn’t John Frusciante who wasn’t Hillel Slovak — depending on which fan you ask. It’s an okay, if a little broody, song from the Peppers. Flea is given maybe a bit too much prominence, as if to show off that this song still has some of what has made RHCP successful in the past.
“Figure it Out” French Montana feat. Kanye West and Nas
JW: This is interesting. It doesn’t sound like a song that would be released in 2016 with all the autotune and the rapping over a repetitive sung line. If that got toned down and the focus was placed more on their rapping — since they all are talented — this would have been a better song.
SF: Melancholic, light vocals begin the track, segueing into Kanye’s classic digitized voice — which quickly dies out. Ordinarily I love when Kanye collabs with other artists, but this time he’s overpowered by Nas and French Montana.
CM: What is the point of auto-tuning rap-or anything? This song would be much improved by cutting back on the effects.
NR: I agree with Jess that this song sounds like it should have come out years ago. Some of the verses are pretty uninspired (looking at you, Kanye), and the repetition gets old. Fast. (Side note: I know this is on Spotify, but watch the music video. Male power fantasies flying around everywhere like there’s no tomorrow)
“I Need A Forest Fire” – James Blake feat. Bon Iver
JW: I don’t really know what is happening with this song, but I don’t hate it. It reminds me of a lot of Bon Iver’s other music so maybe that is why I don’t find it too weird or discordant. I wouldn’t necessarily seek this song out but I wouldn’t skip it if it came on either.
SF: Two of my favourite artists in the world in one track? Yes, please. Calming and meditative, Bon Iver’s uniquely high voice excels here, meshing seamlessly with slow percussion and James Blake’s signature sound. My heart is so full.
CM: The song didn’t go anywhere until halfway through and I’m still not sure why they need a forest fire. It was really monotonous, and like 90 percent of the lyrics were “[something unintelligible] I need a forest fire.”
NR: This song won’t be for everyone, but you can count me in the group of people it works for. The looping works, and it is a good example of how to repeat sounds in your pieces while continually adding on to them, while allowing this song to grow, like a forest fire if that symbolism isn’t too on the nose for you.
“Explode” – Charli XCX
JW: It’s Charli XCX so it’s a pretty solid track, but it’s not like it will become an instant classic or anything. But what I find impressive is that it is from The Angry Birds Movie, so I am expecting this to be the best part of that whole disaster.
SF: My initial cringe at realizing this song is from the Angry Birds soundtrack is dedicated to our Arts Editor. Anyway, Charlie XCX’s classic I-don’t-give-a-fuck vibe that she introduced to the world at large in her feature of “I Love It” by Icona Pop is ever present and lovely in her newest track.
CM: It’s fun and lighthearted but seriously all of the electronic sound edits just detract and distract from the song. Stop this ridiculous trend! Otherwise it’d be a great pump-up song to dance to.
NR: Putting myself in the mindset of one of the Angry Birds from the movie this song is on the soundtrack for, I would listen to this on my way to go blow up somewhere in a fit of unhinged lunacy. I’d probably have some (lots of) alcohol in my system though, and I’d have to deal with the aftermath instead of exploding into nothingness. This track took me to some dark places. It’s catchy, though.
“True Sadness” – The Avett Brothers
JW: This song continues what The Avett Brothers do best which is making good music. Sometimes the lyrics get a little too relatable but that’s not a bad thing. I will probably listen to this song more than once and stick it into my regular rotation.
SF: My guilty pleasure in music is a well played banjo. The Avett Brothers miraculously make a song called “True Sadness” sound, for the most part, upbeat and happy through major guitar chords and optimistic vocals.
CM: A country/folk song that’s high-tempo, is musically fun and positive, but that lyrically is kind of depressing. I also find the vocalist is decent, but does weird roaming key changes.
NR: This is a solid, if a little humdrum, diddy from The Avett Brothers. It’s a lot more upbeat than a song called “True Sadness” would suggest, but it does line up with how this group usually sounds. It works well as a reflection piece, and teases for a bigger album which will definitely be one that grows on you.
“Burn the Witch” – Radiohead
JW: I will admit I am not a huge Radiohead fan BUT this isn’t the worst song ever. It feels more like is should be a song from the ’90s which is ok, I grew up in the ’90s and listened to a lot of Radiohead when they were newer. So it felt like I was six again, which was cool.
SF: Radiohead is one of those generally overrated bands that you brag about seeing live to all your hipster friends. This track combines fast-paced strings, slow vocals, and percussion that can’t make up its mind.
CM: The music really seems to overpower the vocalist, and it’s not very harmonious at all. There is improvement in the relationship between the vocals and the music about halfway through, but it doesn’t last. I’m also not sure why the singer sounds high on acid, but it’s not working for me.
NR: I’ll admit that King of Limbs didn’t do it for me, but if “Burn The Witch” is a taste of what their as-of-yet untitled album will be, I’m back on the Radiohead train. It evokes everything that I like about Radiohead, namely Thom Yorke’s voice dancing overtop a beautiful, haunting melody. This is my pick for track of the week.
“Complicated” – Fitz and the Tantrums
JW: I am really not a huge fan this song. I’ve listened to some of their other tracks, and I liked those ones better. This is like a weird mix of post pop-punk and DNCE with some cheerleaders. It’s kind of a hot mess but I can see why people would like it, but it’s not for me.
SF: God bless Fitz and the Tantrums. This track epitomizes the sexual tension and miscommunication that revolves around FWB and one night stand relationships. Relevant to uni students everywhere.
CM: Love the minimalistic keys opening and the melody that asks for people to sing along. The repetitiveness helps that goal, but not the song overall. It gets dull after a couple of minutes.
NR:I liked Fitz and the Tantrum’s earlier stuff, but this is a huge turn off for me. It sounds too overproduced for my tastes, and Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick comes off as whiny in his lyrics, and I just don’t care for what he has to say.
“In the Arms of a Stranger” – Mike Posner
JW: The intro sounds like a warm up in Pitch Perfect, so that was kind of weird. But that being said, I kind of like sad Mike. You get this mix of I’m sad and my life kind of sucks, but that’s ok because I am going to make the best of it. You also get some pretty decent tracks out of sad Mike.
SF: Once I get over my initial shock that Mike Posner is back in the game, this song is catchy as hell. I’m a sucker for a singer with a backup choir, and this is no exception.
CM: I really like how the intro builds upon itself. It doesn’t fall into a rut. The vocals seem at half-strength for most of the song, so more of them would’ve been great, but overall I love the construction of this song.
NR: The first thing I thought when listening to this song was that it was a promo for the next season of Glee. Then I remembered that Glee hasn’t been a thing for over a year, and was thankful for that. Still, this track isn’t the worst that could come out of Glee, like in the first half of the first season when there was hope and a good storyline and a showrunner that didn’t jump ship.
“Hotter Than Hell” – Dua Lipa
JW: I swear I have heard this exact song before. More than once, and by multiple artists. Please stop making the same fucking song over and over. It makes no sense whatsoever to sound exactly like every other artist out there. Please for the love of God come up with an original idea at least once. It would be nice for a change.
SF: Female singers with deep voices will truly be the death of me. Seductive and dancey, Dua Lipa will definitely be on my to-watch-for list.
CM: The vocals are well-showcased, with great range which is fantastic. It’s not repetitive, which is a blessing, and the great steady beat makes it a toe-tapper at least.
NR: What exactly is hotter than hell? Isn’t hell supposed to be the hottest? That’s why it is the worst, right? Does the devil have a secret hideaway that is even hotter? Is it too hot for him, and he sends the worst people there? Isn’t the devil a good person if he traps and punishes all evildoers? Anyway, this song is boring and generic and these are all things more interesting to think about than this song.
“100x” – Tegan and Sara
JW: I really, really, really want to consistently like Tegan and Sara but I just can’t. This is just one of those songs that I can’t get behind. It might be because it is slower and sad or that I just don’t like Tegan and Sara as much as I feel I should.
SF: Tegan and Sara are the loves of my life. Warning: Anyone who’s gone through a long drawn-out breakup should avoid this track as it will hit way too close to home.
CM: It’s a sweet slow song and I can imagine a great interpretative dance going with it. Classic Tegan and Sara vocals, but there’s a maturity in this song that’s greatly enjoyable.
NR: This will be a nice rallying cry for people who need to leave their partners but can’t because emotions are tough and sticky and people are weird. It’s a slow jam, and feels like it is holding back a little bit, but it comes through rather pleasantly. Too many break up jams feel like a conquering song, this acknowledges the ugly emotional complexity that breaking up brings.
“Hurts So Good” – Astrid S
JW: She has a nice voice, but she isn’t really doing herself any favours by sounding like the weird bastard child of Ariana Grande and Fifth Harmony. If she did something that was a little more unique she would be able to stand out in a music scene that is reaching its saturation point with female singers since she will get lost in the shuffle. It’s too bad really since she is better than they are.
SF: Toxic relationships provide great lyric material and musical inspiration, evidently. Fairly simplistic in vocals, instrumentals, and lyrics, I listened to this track probably three times trying to come up with something to say. So, there’s that, I guess.
CM: I like her voice, and the way it conveys emotions in a very real, believable way. The minimal accompanying music to her voice makes her voice stand out much more than I expected. Overall it’s worth at least a third listen.
NR: “Hurts So Good” isn’t anything new, but Astrid S is a good enough singer to make this work as a radio hit. Nothing innovative or creative here, which is disappointing from someone trying to make it on their debut album, so hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come.