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First Impressions: Beyoncé & JAY-Z, Ariana Grande, Troye Sivan And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 06/20/2018

This week, Beyoncé and JAY-Z dropped a surprise album and Ariana Grande featured on two tracks so it should be a good week, right? Let’s see whether our writers feel the way in this week’s First Impressions.

Beyonce & JAY-Z – Apeshit

Sean: This is the first track I’ve heard from Beyonce and Jay’s new collab album. I loved Beyonce’s Lemonade project as a beautiful empowerment album and a gorgeous introspect into her marriage and life. I can’t help but feel uneasy at the thought of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s relationship and a whole album titled Everything is Love made me tense. It’s as though the couple have crafted this tension into an album to make a statement about their unity and it pays off with this gorgeous track. 4

Sam: Apeshit is not my favourite song on the record but I’m still a massive fan of it. It’s literally just the pair of them making sure that everyone knows they’re a force to be reckoned with. They’ve taken the modern rap, Migos formula and made it into something that sounds classic and timeless like only they can. We already knew Beyoncé could rap but I feel like this contains some of her finest bars to date. 4.5

Nao – Another Lifetime

Sean: While I haven’t listened to a lot of her releases, Nao combines soulful R&B with tropical, reggae beats. ‘Another Lifetime’ is no exception; a song that makes you feel like you’re standing in a crowded room but the spotlight is directly on you. This song is true beauty. 5

Sam: The acapella beginning to this just absolutely kills me. I barely have time to revive myself before she starts handing it to us all over again over a wobbly, slow-moving beat. It’s definitely not her most moveable moment but it’s one that shows growth and ambition. I can really respect that. She’s a class act and if she keeps handing out these vocals she’s going to be one of the greats. 4.5

Troye Sivan & Ariana Grande – Dance To This

Sean: It’s no secret that I’m constantly infatuated by the dreamy glaze of Troye’s vocals. He could literally sing about leaky waterbeds and cargo shorts and I’d obsess. Ariana’s vocals are really pretty too and compliment Troye’s. This song definitely progresses in a different direction to a the previous singles from this album, finding a much more commercial pop sound, which suits this track but I hope doesn’t get overused in Bloom. 3.5

Sam: The only two artists in the world that could sing this song are Troye Sivan and Ariana Grande. It needs those soft, sultry vocals to really set it – one notch more and it would’ve over-boiled it. They both kill it but honestly the winners of this song are those synths. A stroke of genius. This has once again restored my faith in Bloom and Troye’s ability to nudge the pop line. 4

Nicki Minaj – Bed (Feat. Ariana Grande)

Sean: Wow, this a good week to be an Ariana Grande fan. I’m not as into ‘Bed’ as I was into ‘Barbie Thingz’ and ‘Chun Li’. I think it’s mostly that the production is less hip/hop and makes this single feels like it’s just another pop song. To me, it feels as though Nicki had spent so long perfecting those two tracks that she just let ‘Bed’ slide away. 2.5

Sam: This is a classic Nicki move. She loves her commercial, middle of the road bop as she proved with Your Love and Pills & Potions. She’s back again and she’s roped Ariana in for this one. A bit of a ‘here you go, this’ll do’ moment. And it will. It’s not bad but it’s not as exciting as Chun-Li. It’s a necessary move to try and bag her a pop radio single but surely there’s more interesting stuff on Queen. 3.5

SOPHIE – Immaterial

Sean: SOPHIE is one of the most exciting producers I have come across. ‘Immaterial’ is one of my favourite picks from her very long awaited debut album. SOPHIE creates another ultimate party banger which thematically discusses her developed understanding of gender fluidity and acceptance at being herself. The production in ‘Immaterial’ is top notch and very exciting, there’s really no way this song could have been better. 5

Sam: I read that SOPHIE described this as one of the “cheapest” songs on the album and that’s exactly what it is. It’s a tacky masterpiece. It’s the song the magpie is most likely to be attracted to because it’s shiny and immediately interesting whereas the rest of the album digs a little deeper. While the album deconstructs pop to its most industrial sounds Immaterial is a euphoric euphemism of what pop music can be and it’s goddamn glorious.  4.5

Alessia Cara – Growing Pains

Sean: I went into ‘Growing Pains’ expecting to dislike it. I used to be a massive Alessia Cara fan; I vividly remember writing about ‘Seventeen’ and ‘Four Pink Walls’ for a school assignment when I was 15, but I was left disappointed by her debut album and more recent collaborations with Zedd and Logic. But ‘Growing Pains’ feels more wholesome in comparison. It’s by no means a great track, and it feels quite cluttered, but there’s a beautiful honesty to the lyrics that is hopefully the beginning of a return to form for Alessia Cara. 2.5

Sam: I feel like so many popstars are taking risks right now, as unsuccessful as this may be, and then it’s like Alessia Cara turns up in her reliable Honda Accord wheeling out a single that sounds like every track off her last album. It may well work for her this time around but if she’s going to be brilliant she’s gotta do a little more. If growing pains are as easy as this song sounds then add another six foot to my figure. 2

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