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First Impressions: Miley Cyrus, Harry Styles, Lana Del Rey And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 05/16/2017

First Impressions are our weekly roundtable reviews sifting through all the fresh new music. Our writers take a listen, slap a score on it and then justify said score. This week Calvin Harris, Lana Del Rey, Harry Styles, Miley Cyrus, Danny L Harle and Kacy Hill face the jury.

Calvin Harris – Rollin (Feat. Khalid & Future)

Zanda: I’ve definitely found that the tracks Calvin Harris has released in 2017 have been growers rather than songs that you first hear and lost your mind to. Much like Slide and Heatstroke, I found my first listen to this one rather uneventful, but there’s some intangible quality to the music he’s making at the moment that makes you go back for seconds and thirds. Shit, I think 2017 Calvin Harris is a pack of pringles. 4

Dominique: Pre-2017 Calvin Harris has always been a bit of a miss for me, but this year he seems to be growing on me. There is something interesting about this song that keeps me swaying. I think Future is a good choice for the hooks. The spacey synths throughout the song are quite dreamy and offer a nice contrast to the disjointed beat. However, I’m just not into the whole indecipherable-autotuned-to-death vocals thing that seems to be everywhere these days… Anyway, Calvin, keep Rollin’ them tunez out. 3

Sam: Well, that’s three from three for the revamped Calvin Harris, as far as I’m concerned. West Coast vibes seems to be the aesthetic and Calvin is nailing it. Khalid and Future make a really good combo but it’s the hook that steals the show on this one. It’s the first time I’ve really tuned into what Khalid is doing because his knack for a great melody is so clear here. I’ve been such a staunch Harris hater in the past but you really have to appreciate someone who is willing to switch up the sound a decade into his career and while at the top of his game. 4 Sam’s Pick

Average Score: 3.6

Harry Styles – Woman

Zanda: I honestly am pretty torn on most of the music that Harry Styles has released this year. The argument for this track and his other new ones is that if you don’t like it then back luck because you followed him as a 1D fan/are too young to appreciate what he’s referencing and now he’s too good for you now. But it goes both ways, without that profile he wouldn’t be getting the sort of publicity he’s getting on this music, and what you already think you know about him is always going to taint your view on his music. But I digress – Woman is a pretty cool, slow-jam, but… wait.. can anyone else see the fact that there’s water dripping down his back and it’s a photo? What? Is this Hogwarts? Wait okay, I think the song is alright, I guess. 3

Dominique: Is that… Is that a duck I’m hearing? Seriously can anyone else hear that? Otherwise, yeah, I’m into this. I’ve always had a soft spot for Mr. Styles. He’s totally gorgeous and I’ve always found his edgy vocals really unique. I’ve been dreaming of the day he went solo… I just KNEW it would be a wild ride and he would be vibing the rock n’ roll/indie sound… and, well, HERE WE ARE GUYS! WE HAVE ARRIVED! 4 Dominique’s Pick

Sam: This is probably one of my favourites off the album but that’s not saying much because I really find the whole aesthetic of this solo career really hard to swallow. The “netflix” soundbite at the beginning of this is totally uninspired and unnecessary and the cocaine reference with added sniff sound effect is a really lame attempt to be grown up. The melody in the verses is strong but ultimately the rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic lets it down. I just really don’t understand what the point of making poor man’s Rolling Stones songs in 2017 is? 2.5

Average Score: 3.16

Lana Del Rey – Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind

Zanda: Lana Del Rey undeniably possesses an inimitable vocal quality, but I can’t help but be disengaged by this track. You could argue that it’s a slow-burner (as much as I hate that term), but personally I’m just bored. 2.5

Dominique: Can I just confess something here? I just don’t get why everyone is so fascinated by Lana Del Rey. I understand she’s supposed to be all sultry and poetic… but once you’ve heard one of her songs you’ve heard all of them. I found this song to be incredibly irritating and boring. The lyrics are…honestly just comical. I’m over the pretentiousness that is Lana Del Rey… NEXT. 1

Sam: Of course Lana Del Rey was thinking about the state of the world while at Coachella. Of course she was. I’m still so intrigued by Lana as a character and this really is peak Lana Del Rey. It’s melancholic, hyperbolic and nostalgic. She sings some totally ridiculous things (“What about all these children and what about all their parents”) and some really great things (“Critics can be so mean sometimes”). It’s the perfect mix of romanticism and realism which is the pocket she sits in so perfectly and once again I’m totally sold on it. 4

Average Score: 2.5

Miley Cyrus – Malibu

Zanda: Can I just be the first to say what the fuck is happening. This is the most unexpectedly and bizarrely weird turn. This is not the same artist who released Wrecking Ball. Her voice doesn’t even sound the same at all. Whoever replaced Avril Lavigne with a double must have found one for Miley as well. What the fuck is this video clip as well? Everything I thought I knew about the world is a lie. I’m out… and probably will never listen to this song ever again. 2

Dominique: I’m all about personal growth and change. I liked Bangerz  for what it stood for – an embodiment of Miley’s feelings dealing with a break up. It was interesting in concept to see a person so trapped by the confines of Disney completely rebel and say “fuck you” to everything and anything she could. This song, yes, is an utter juxtaposition to that phase of her life. I don’t love it or even like it, but I see where she’s coming from. I definitely think she’s clever at what she does. She is a pop star, she writes music for the mainstream stations. She knows how to market her music to be successful yet also get honest feelings about her life out there. Miley will continue to fascinate me even though I don’t always like what she makes. 2

Sam: My heart broke when I heard Miley Cyrus say her new song was “rootsy”. At one point, Miley was the best popstar in the world in my opinion. Bangerz set a benchmark for popstar and now when we need saving from all the beige pop music she gives us fkn Malibu. I understand people change but I’m just not buying any bit of this. How do you go from Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz to this? As far as “rootsy” songs go, it’s not terrible but I’m still mourning the loss of the weed smoking, tongue sliding Miley. 2.5

Average Score: 2.16

Danny L Harle – 1UL

Zanda: Holy mother of a donkey this is a huge tune. When PC Music prince Danny L Harle released Me4U last week I was done, I had enough Danny to satisfy for months, and then he follows up that sugary classic with this track. 1UL mixes Harle’s melodic perfection with what has to be one of the filthiest drops he’s ever released. Thank God for PC Music’s month of madness – I have a feeling there’ll be more gold to come before May is over. 5 Zanda’s Pick

Dominique: The intro/main melody hook to this really reminds me of the Rugrats theme song. This track is boring for me… It has the same structure as most of the songs aimed at the club scene these days. The lyrics are repetitive and I just feel like there is something missing the whole time. I was thankful when it ended and I’ve actually just forgotten most of the song, so that is telling. 1

Sam: Huge Danny. This is a tune. I love that he’s kept his PC Music production but given us a straight-out pop vocal. I think if commercial radio gave this a go, it would be a big hit for him but even if this just stays in my ears I’m happy. As Charli XCX proved with ILY2, and he’s proved here, more popstars should be working with Harle. 4

Average Score: 3.3

Kacy Hill – Hard To Love

Zanda: This is actually a really cool pop track, and isn’t even that derivative… or if it is it’s engaging enough that I don’t really care. Loving what she’s done with the textural elements of the instrumentation and production, and even when it gets denser her voice is still championed really well in the mix. A winner. 4

Dominique: Kacy’s voice is soft and melodic. It’s a very poppy track. I think this song has been produced incredibly well, especially so in the chorus, where all of the elements in the song combine to create a sumptuous harmony. However, this song isn’t especially original or fascinating. It has zero filth or twist which is really all that I crave. 2

Sam: I’ve always loved Kacy Hill’s vibe and I’ve liked a number of her songs but I’ve honestly found it hard to really sink my teeth into her music. This, thought, is so good. I love that it’s armed with a big, beefy chorus, the likes of which she hasn’t tackled before, and that it’s just a straight out, classy pop song. Her voice is beautiful and capable of taking on so many different things, as this and her other single Like A Woman prove. 4

Average Score: 3.3

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