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First Impressions: Justin Bieber, Charli XCX, Maggie Rogers And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 08/01/2018

First Impressions is our weekly roundtable review feature where our writers give their takes on a selection of tracks from the week past. This week Charli XCX, Justin Bieber and more face the jury.

Charli XCX – Girls Night Out

Sean Tayler: Don’t tell anyone, but there’s a 99% chance that I found this song leaked in January. It’s so retro, fresh and has that carefree, badass charm that not many artists naturally possess. Eh-eh- XCX! 4.5

Ben Field: This didn’t do much for me. I can see how she’s going for a SOPHIE meets Spice Girls vibe but I think it’s missing some edge. It could be super fun at a club but in any other setting I’m not that interested. 2.5

Sam Murphy: I’ve been waiting for this to be released for a very, very long time. I’m so glad that it’s finally here because it’s one of Charli and SOPHIE’s greatest creations. It feels like Aqua collaborated with Cyndi Lauper which is the strangest but most perfect mix. 4.5

Ti Butler: I’m a little bit over this 80’s retro sound that’s been a trend for the past few years, but here’s why this song is so great: it takes the best of that 80’s sound, but then folds it into Charli’s sound, and makes it its own brilliant new thing. Charli is just so far ahead of the game right now. I love the hell out of this. 4.25

DJ Khaled – No Brainer (Feat. Justin Bieber, Chance The Rapper, Quavo)

Sean: It sucks so much that artists as boring as DJ Khaled keep getting played. This track isn’t as terrible as most of his backlog, but listen to it more than once or twice and it’s instantly stale. There’s something to be said for the inclusion of Chance The Rapper, but his contribution to the track can’t do much more than make it bearable. 1.5

Ben: An  average track. The beat was boring and sounds pretty cheap and amateur, which is kind of unforgivable considering Khaled openly admits that he has a team make his beats for him and that he has the money for the best producers in the world. Verses were super forgettable. The only redeeming feature was Justin’s hook, which is pretty  catchy. 2

Sam: This collab is a no brainer really. Khaled knows that these three work well together and a Bieber hook is almost a guaranteed hit. Unfortunately, the downside of doing it a second time means it’s completely predictable. It’s brainless, heartless and makes Khaled even more insufferable. 2

Ti: That went right through me. 2

E^ST – I Don’t Lack Imagination

Sean: It might be premature to make such a broad statement, but this is already my favourite E^ST song. This song is backed by its really exciting production that gives it a really fun electropop element, but also has a sexy and sinister side that is showcased by the contrast with the lyrics. I love E^ST so much! 4.5

Ben: This one is very fun. The beat is so bright and unique, kind of retro but modern and original where it needs to be. It sucks you in and you can’t help but move. The verse, prechorus and chorus all sit so well together and E^ST also really nails it with the lyrics. 4

Sam: E^ST hit her stride a while ago now and she’s losing none of that momentum. This feels right in the pocket for her. It’s woozy, weird and a little wicked. It also sounds so much more polished and international than most Aussie pop coming out of the country right now which is no shade to E^ST’s peers. She’s just at the top of the crop. 4

Ti: If I write, like, Nova Entertainment, Nova 100, Nova 96.9, Fox FM, Ash London, 2Day FM, Hit Network, The Edge 96.1, I suppose KIIS, maybe JOY 94.9 too, do you reckon this article will appear in front of their management? Like, there’ll be someone there who, as part of their job, has Google Alerts on for every mention of their brand, and they’ll get this, and they’ll have to read through this article to see where they’re mentioned, and then they’ll see this paragraph OK NOW I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION YOU NEED TO ADD THIS SONG IT’S GENIUS AND IT’LL EVEN HELP YOU HIT YOUR AUSTRALIAN MUSIC QUOTA. 4.5

RL Grime – Light Me Up (Feat. Miguel & Julia Michaels)

Sean: Miguel’s vocals are so sweet and smooth on this track. It’s instantly engaging and feels ambitious. The drop in this song is a little overused, but it still fits the song well. Julia Michaels’ vocals are perfectly fine, but following similar vocals from Miguel, it unfortunately makes the track feel offensively inoffensive. 2.5

Ben: The textures in the verse are beautiful and the chorus line is promising, but unfortunately it doesn’t lead anywhere. After the first 40 seconds I found it hard to maintain interest in this one. I can see this getting played heaps on the radio but for me it’s pretty forgettable background music. 3

Sam: I loved this the first time I heard it and I still do like it but hearing it was an old Jack U demo takes the sheen of a little. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, it just made me realise that the whole thing was a bit formulaic. Miguel and Julia sound great though and the chorus really soars. 3

Ti: Yeah alright then. 3

DJ Durel – Hot Summer (Feat. Migos)

Sean: I really didn’t enjoy this one either. Someone in the YouTube comments called DJ Durel the “DJ Khaled of trap” which is ironic because this song tries so hard to be easy listening, it’s boring. 1

Ben: Reminds me of a bad DJ Mustard beat. Nothing I enjoyed about this track at all. Migos can be cool when you can feel their energy but it’s totally lacking here, sounds like they’re rapping after just getting off a long flight. 0

Sam: I actually really love this as a little bit of a summer jam. I like hearing Migos on beats that force them to be a little more melodic a la Stir Fry and this does exactly that. The hook is instantly memorable and Offset continues his hot streak with a great verse. It’s not going to win a Grammy but it’s good fun. 3.5

Ti: Not as good as this Hot Summer. Or this Hot Summer. Or even this Hot Summer, and this Hot Summer is objectively many times worse than the first two quite good ones. 🌧

Maggie Rogers – Give A Little

Sean: Maggie Rogers is one of my favourite upcoming artists and this track is the perfect example of her glowing charm. It’s at the same level as most of her previous releases and brings more of her synth-folk. At this point, I’d take pretty much any Maggie Rogers release I was offered. 4

Ben: I love Maggie’s other stuff so much so I was kind of disappointed with this one in the verses, I just didn’t feel an emotional connection like I do with a song like Alaska. BUT the chorus really saved the track. It’s amazing. It’s so joyous and just makes you move. I’m super keen to see her play this live, I can see it being a highlight. 4

Sam: I really love this but I’m struggling to place Maggie Rogers in amongst this. I don’t know why. It just sounds so different to anything she’s done in the past and the Haim vibes are really heavy. This is an extremely convoluted response because I am a big fan of the song I just can’t see her doing it and that’s why I can’t fully connect. 3.5

Ti: She said on her Insta that this is a song about empathy, as well as posing the question “what if we got the chance to reintroduce ourselves?” I guess this is Maggie reintroducing herself. She’s more than just Alaska now. 3.75

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