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First impressions: Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Justin Timberlake And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 01/09/2018

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 Bruno Mars, Bhad Bhabie, Kendrick Lamar, Justin Timberlake, Francis And The Lights and Rita Ora face the jury.

Bruno Mars – Finesse (Feat. Cardi B)

Sam Murphy: I literally couldn’t stand anything Bruno Mars did with the 24K Magic record and now he’s added Cardi and here I am stanning. I slept on this song when I listened to Mars’ album but with a little Cardi kick at the beginning it makes me listen up and I’m really digging those Bobby Brown vibes. Heck, I may even want to hear another collaboration from these two. 4

Georgia Griffiths: Thank god for Cardi B. This sounds like literally every other Bruno Mars song I’ve ever heard but Cardi’s verse at the beginning adds enough spice to get me through the whole song. I can’t say I really enjoy this, but if I heard it on the radio I might not change it straightaway. 2.5

Jake Daniel: Like, it’s good… ish. Like Georgia said, this sounds exactly the same as every single other Bruno Mars song. He has a formula and it works, but damn, it’s getting boring. Maybe I’m just tired and angry because I just woke up from a nap, but this is EVERY SINGLE BRUNO MARS SONG EVER. Cardi B is the only highlight. 2

Bhad Bhabie – Both Of Em

Sam: I never started out as a hater of Bhad Bhabie but I’ve been lukewarm, I suppose. I’ve gotta give her credit though, she’s churning out track after track and they’re all legitimate. It’s hard to poke fun at this one. It’s a solid, hard-hitting hip-hop track and while you have to wonder whether she really does know Rihanna and Ariana, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s collaborating with them soon. 3

Georgia: Danielle Bregoli has taken her 15 minutes of fame and run with it. The songs she releases under her Bhad Bhabie alter-ego aren’t particularly good, but with millions of views on each one I doubt she’s complaining. I don’t understand half the lyrics of ‘Both of Em’, and the beat is reminiscent of every Soundcloud rapper ever. It’s a very average song, but with two million plays in four days I guess it doesn’t really matter if it’s good. 2

Jake: What. Is. This. It feels like a bad dream. Surely this isn’t serious. I’m hurt. 0

Kendrick Lamar – All The Stars (Feat. SZA)

Sam: I’ve read plenty of hate for this since it’s release but I don’t really get it to be honest. It’s a bit of a pop turn for both of them but it slips right into my ears. It’s a really accessible track but it’s still got subtle production flavours that make it A-grade. SZA’s hook soars and Lamar’s verse, while nothing extraordinary, does the job. 4

Georgia: This was my dream 2017 collab. If it were a solo Kendrick song, it’d be pretty weak, but by bringing in SZA it’s transported to another level. Her verse, followed by the introduction of the strings, pretty much makes the song. ‘All The Stars’ could’ve been a bit stronger, but with two such prolific artists it was always going to be good. 4

Jake: My lord! What a voice! SZA is honestly one of a kind here, undeniable talent. This is an unbelievably refreshing song to start 2018. Very very smooth from Kendrick too. These two humans backed by a silky smooth instrumental, what else could you ask for. I love this! 4.5

Rita Ora & Liam Payne – For You

Sam: It’s questionable as to how they thought they’d get away with following up Taylor Swift and ZAYN with Rita Ora and Liam Payne but they’ve done it and low and behold, it’s better. I’m not sure if it’s the sexiest song we’re going to hear this year but those blaring synths in the bridge are pure pop genius. Rita sounds incredible on it, Liam sounds fine and it’s probably going to be both of their biggest hit in the US. Good job team. 3.5

Georgia: I’ve found that songs written specifically for the Fifty Shades franchise tend to not be up my alley, and this is no exception. It’s kind of bland, and despite its soaring choruses it just falls flat for me. Liam adds absolutely nothing in my opinion, and I think I may have enjoyed it more if it was just a solo Rita song. 2.5

Jake: It’s okay. Again, like Georgia said, if this was solo Rita, this would be amazing! Liam gives nothing to the song and it feels very very very lazy from him. This whole song just sounds lazy actually. Ahh well. 2

Justin Timberlake – Filthy

Sam: When you open a song with, “haters gonna say it’s fake,” and put, “turn this up very loud,” on the single cover, you’ve really got to wonder whether your relevant anymore. If Timberlake had questioned that, his answer would’ve been no. This is a wobbly, future funk song and while the beat really does it for me, it just goes absolutely nowhere. It’s Timberlake dribbling over the song for a ridiculous four minutes and 35 seconds without reason. It would’ve been better suited to Pharrell’s voice on the N.E.R.D. record and even then it probably wouldn’t have made the cut. We don’t need Man Of The Woods. 2

Georgia: Based off the promo material I was expecting this to be JT’s version of ‘Joanne’. Boy, was I wrong. The first minute or so is just kind of embarrassing for everyone involved (the “Haters gonna say it’s fake” line is just the worst), but once he reaches the chorus it’s actually not too bad. It’s far from Timberlake’s best but it’s also not the trainwreck the internet purports it to be. 3

Jake: This is very different. Like, stupidly different. I feel like it’s going to become one of those guilty pleasure songs that people listen to when they’ve become bored of everything on their Facebook and Instagram feeds. There’s nothing in here that makes me feel anything. I’m so confused. 1

Francis And The Lights – Just For Us

Sam: Good ol’ reliable Francis delivers another synth-lead moment of excellence. I’m not going crazy for this one but I’m sure it’s going to sink further and further in as the year goes by. It just sounds really lovely from the outset and I take it for granted, hardly noticing when it finishes. Give me some time. 3

Georgia: Francis and The Lights is one of those acts I read a lot about but never really seem to listen to. I’m glad I’ve managed to get into ‘Just For Us’ though, because it’s a good tune. It’s slow-burning, but catchy enough that I’ve found myself humming it hours after listening. The Passion Pit-esque synths are a welcome bonus. 4

Jake: The production on every Francis and The Lights track is incredible. Intertwined with hypnotic vocal plugins, it’s hard for me not to enjoy a tune that sounds and feels like this. Easy listening at it’s finest. 4

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