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“Don’t Wanna Know” – Maroon 5 feat. Kendrick Lamar
Jessica Whitesel: I only kept listening to this song for two reasons: first, I feel it’s my duty as the poor sucker who put this steaming pile of crap on this playlist, and second there was the promise of Kendrick Lamar. It’s one of his weakest verses on a song and it lasts about 15 seconds. Just skip this one; you’re not missing anything. I just learned that the video is Pokémon Go-themed and I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.
Connor Robinson: I didn’t mind this one at first, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. It feels like Maroon 5 is trying to cash on the tropical house hits of last year. Not to mention Kendrick is nonexistent on this track. Overall, extremely forgettable.
Sarah Finley: You could honestly just listen to 10 seconds of this song — any 10 seconds — and you’ll get a pretty solid idea of what the rest of the track is like. Don’t bother getting your hopes up for Kendrick; you won’t even be able to tell he’s there.
Courtney Miller: The harmonies at the end are great, but lyrically and melody-wise, I’m not impressed. I expected more and I expected better, particularly from Maroon 5. Lamar wasn’t as monotonously boring as I predicted, but I still wouldn’t recommend this to anyone I know.
“Bad Things” – Machine Gun Kelly feat. Camila Cabello
JW: Wow, such 2000, much boring. ALSO STOP WITH THE TALK-RAP-SINGING! This song is something that I feel I should be able to sing along to, but the words are wrong.
CR: I can’t get past the lyrics, which is sad because they’re clearly an afterthought. Musically it’s alright at best, and the synths and trap influenced beat are nothing special, but the lyrics are so awful it’s unlistenable.
SF: Camila Cabello is easily the best part of this track; the percussion is strange, and Machine Gun Kelly’s rapping is… a joke. The juxtaposition of Cabello’s high feminine vocals and Machine Gun Kelly’s “rapping” just didn’t click enough. No thanks.
CM: Can we get more of Cabello? I like her. Let’s keep her and her harmonies and around. I’ll pass on Machine Gun Kelly.
“True Disaster” – Tove Lo
JW: really want to like Tove Lo but I find it hard when her best tracks are the ones where she is a featured artist. Also, is this, like, a radio edit? Or did she suddenly decide to not say ‘fuck’? This song is a true disaster.
CR: I’ve never heard of Tove Lo, and I probably will forget her unless she decides to go a more original direction. This song is extremely generic, but it has some Carly Rae Jepsen (Emotion-era) musical similarities. For future listening, I’ll just stick to Carly Rae.
SF: I’ve tried so hard to appreciate Tove Lo, but all of her tracks sound the same, and they’re all forgettable. I genuinely cannot tell the difference between one song and the next. The bad-self-destructive-girl vibe is a little too tacky for my taste.
CM: This is a powerful kind of sultry with dirty, but not obscene lyrics. The beat is solid and I know somewhere there’s an exotic dancer who’s queuing this up for a future performance. That being said, it’s still nothing special.
“Bring Them All / Holy Grime” – Wiley feat. Devlin
JW: I mean I guess it’s ok if angry rap is your thing or if you’re into getting ready to go HAM on the bad guys in an action movie. But since I’m not, I’m not interested.
CR: What a change of pace! Wiley’s verse takes the show, but the two grime MCs do work well together. I didn’t have high hopes about this playlist after the first few tracks, but it’s nice to find a song I’d consider replaying on my own time. I guess that’s kinda the point of these playlists…
SF: I’m not sure at what point in my life I would need this track. Pumping myself up to go rob a bank? The lyrics are actually, thankfully, unique and rather social justice-y, which I can appreciate. Otherwise, this just isn’t my style of rap.
CM: The accent makes this more enjoyable than it would be otherwise. I really appreciate that this isn’t about fucking bitches, and the track is solid. Rap isn’t my style usually, but I’d spin this again for kicks. I always knew I was destined for a life of crime.
“Rainbow Lollipop” – Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation
JW: Ohhhh, now we get French talk-singing. I hate myself and this playlist. I don’t mind the backing track, but between the soft “Rainbow Lollipop” being sung in the background and the talk-singing, I’m not a fan.
CR: I’m having a hard time figuring out whether they’re trying to be sophisticated or kitschy — possibly both? The instrumental isn’t that bad, but just drags on with no real changes. Really digging the baseline, though!
SF: The best part of this track is the album artwork. While the French is alluring — if you’re into foreign babes, I suppose — there’s this peculiar mix between soft vocals and intense instrumentals, which include heavy cymbals.
CM: The whispery vocals and the French makes it insta-sexy. It takes too long for the vocals to come in, and it’s hard to make out what the lyrics are, but it’s still decent. The track gets a little boring because it doesn’t change much throughout the song, but it’s alright.
“Catch 22” – Illy feat. Anne-Marie
JW: Why do people talk-rap-sing? It just confuses me. Then the whole hook to this song is every cliché. This song is kind of a mess and reminds me of the early ’00s, which usually isn’t a good thing if it stands out to me that much.
CR: Where do they find these guys? Who funds this music? It’s awfully derivative and extremely forgettable music-wise, but the album artwork is a masterpiece. Next!
SF: This is my favorite so far. Major piano chords make the track instantly upbeat, later featuring a li’l baby bass drop. The lyrics have a bit of a YOLO (I hate myself for saying this, btw) vibe, which totally works with the instrumentals and vocals.
CM: This is upbeat, happy (-sounding, the actual lyrics are pretty down to earth and nonchalant), and catchy right off the bat-thank the snappy piano. Excellent pop culture use of ‘catch-22.’ This can “stay another round” for sure.
“All Night” – The Vamps feat. Matoma
JW: Annnndddd there it is. You instantly know how this song is going to sound about two seconds in. It’s pretty formulaic, which isn’t bad if you are just looking to get heavy club rotation — if my past experiences with clubbing have taught me anything, it’s that songs like this one do well.
SF: A classic electro-pop track with chorus vocals and predictable bass drops combined with a bit of teenage angst. The lyrics “I’ll be up all night, no sleep” are fairly relatable this midterm season, but this track just doesn’t do anything for me otherwise.
CM: If I’m going to listen to a song about insomnia and being up all night, I’ll listen to “Up All Night” by Owl City. The vocals are pretty smooth and the range is good. The rollercoaster of “feel” is a tired vocal run though. It’s worth listening to at least once.
“Drug Dealer” – Macklemore feat. Ariana DeBoo
JW: I’m not a huge fan of Macklemore, but he does do a great job at finding female vocalists that I want to listen to, so he’s good for something. But it does seem strange to me that he went from “Thrift Shop” and “White Walls” to having a social conscience.
CR: I’m surprised! This song works! Good message, catchy hook, fun beat. Probably not gonna listen on my own time since I’m not huge on Macklemore, but compared the rest of the songs so far it’s a nice change.
SF: I didn’t realize Macklemore was still coming out with new music. His trend of using music as a means to discuss social issues continues, with a solid background of instrumentals and beat.
CM: I like that this has a serious tone and discusses a legit concern, particularly in the states. The repetition in the chorus serves to reinforce the idea instead of exist for the sake of existing. Good rhythm, good lyrics, belief in the subject matter – recommended.
“My Belly” – Aesop Rock
JW: I’m excited that Aesop Rock is still making music. This isn’t his best, but maybe I’m just looking back at None Shall Pass wearing rose-coloured glasses. However, this is probably the strongest rap so far for this week, and he doesn’t do the talk-rap-sing so that makes me happy.
CR: I’ve never understood the hype about Aesop Rock. Backpackers freak every time he drops new music, but I just can’t get into his lyrical dense rapping and sparse beats. Not a standout track from the acclaimed rapper.
SF: This track is interesting in that it has catchy lyrics and a fun background riff. The rise and fall of the vocals is a tad repetitive, but there are worse things. Wouldn’t add to any of my own playlists.
CM: I had such high hopes for this artist when I read the name. I was hoping for some clever literary lyrics. I don’t think I’ve been this disappointed since my brother left my stereo outside in the rain overnight and tried to tell me it was still totally fine, despite it not turning on.
“Comeback Kid” – Golden Coast
JW: This song is the definition of ambivalence. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it; it’s not good, but it’s not bad either. I really don’t have anything to say about it other than it’s kind of boring and I’m pressing skip as soon as I’m done typing this so I don’t fall asleep.
CR: Another generic pop song! All these are starting to blend into together. Overall, extremely average.
SF: Beginning with a fun guitar bit, the vocals are a tad close to the end of the singer’s vocal range for my taste, but it makes good background music. The lyrics aren’t anything overly noticeable, and the percussion is light.
CM: The guitar intro is crisp and then softens when the vocals start, so already I’m a fan of the musicality going into this song. A chorus that’s mostly falsetto is risky because it can make or break the song, but it worked out for Golden Coast. Chill study music for sure.
‘“U”’ Sergioisdead feat. Merges
JW: If you knew what I wanted you’d stop singing. I’m sorry to everyone else who is listening to this playlist this week. I might have one or two regrets about making this playlist while trying to eat airport breakfast. I mean, the vocals have some potential, but they are so fucking breathy-sounding that I can’t even with them.
CR: The more I listen to this song, the more I dislike it. I went through a few different writeups to this song, all with differing opinions. I’m at the point where I want to stop listening forever. It’s just not a good song.
SF: No. This track sounds like the result of when someone is first introduced to music editing software and realizes they can overlay their vocals with … more of their own vocals. Echoey and whispery, it simply does not work here.
CM: It’s a lower vocal range-kind of song and it feels like it’s supposed to be seductive, but it’s not the kind of seductive that holds your attention. It’s more like your partner thought seducing you from the next room would be a good idea. It’s pretty much just background noise.
“Superstar” – Blue Rodeo
JW: Bless Blue Rodeo for consistency. This is their classic sound maybe pared down just a little, but it’s pretty enjoyable and catchy as hell. I can see this working well in a small dive bar, at karaoke, in the shower, or as a great road trip jam. This was a solid track to end on this week, and while I still have regrets over the rest of the playlist, I don’t regret this one.
CR: The first concert I ever went to was when I was around six years old and I saw Blue Rodeo with my parents at the Orpheum. I spilled an entire bottle of coke on my pants and everyone thought I pissed myself. I don’t remember the concert because I was so upset, but I’d rather revisit that moment in my life than listen to this playlist again.
PS I don’t mind this song.
SF: I can’t get behind this track. It’s like the band has never openly discussed their desire to move towards country, but each one is secretly thinking about it and this was the result. Not a fan.
CM: Forget Sergio, I thought Blue Rodeo was dead. All of a sudden I feel like I’m 45 and worrying about a mortgage I can’t afford. It’s like dad pop with a country twinge and I don’t like it. It’s trying too hard to be accessible to a younger generation, and it’s just so far off the mark that I kind of just spent the past three minutes chuckling to myself.