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First Impressions: Nicki Minaj, Empress Of, Eves Karydas And More

Written By the interns on 09/03/2018

First Impressions is our weekly feature that sees our writers give their two cents on the latest release. This week, Nicki Minaj, Eves Karydas, Empress Of and more face the jury.

Eves Karydas – Damn Loyal

Reece Hooker: About once a week I think of Jules LeFevre’s brilliant piece on Australia’s world-leading pop music and Eves Karydas is a prime example of the brilliant radio-ready stars we’ve got waiting under-the-radar. ‘Damn Loyal’ is built around a belting chorus, while doing enough around the hook to remain interesting and engaging. Don’t look now, but Eves is putting together a dynamite run of singles ahead of next month’s debut album. 4

Sam Murphy: This is the best song that Eves Karydas has ever released. It’s such a subtle pop song and yet the chorus possesses this very effortless power. “I’m damn loyal,” is such a strong hook and this song would be able to pull me in on that alone. 4

Empress Of – When I’m With Him

Reece: it’s easy to write a song about being in love, it’s easy to write a song about being heartbroken, but it’s the songs that tackle everything in the middle that are really engaging. Empress Of has proven herself a fresh voice with strong vocals and delicate songwriting, but ‘When I’m With Him’ feels like her most complete single yet. Telling a story over some catchy drums and an emotion-stirring synth, this song might be more conventional than Lorely Rodriguez’s previous Empress Of releases, but it’s so full and vibrant that it shines just as bright. 4

Sam: Empress Of is so underrated but I feel like that’s about to change. This is her Losing You or her Everything Is Embarrassing moment. A simple but effective pop song that’s got a sense of timelessness to it. She doesn’t overdo it, rather she puts all her trust in the melody and her soft vocals. 4.5

Carmouflage Rose – Let Me Down (Feat. George Maple)

Reece: Carmouflage Rose has been trying out some new sounds, but ‘Let Me Down’ feels like the weakest attempt yet. His presence and flow that shined on ‘Late Nights’ feel muted here over a choppy, reserved beat and the entire track never seems to get itself out of second gear. Even George Maple’s guest verse feels a little tacked on, despite her impressive vocal performance, ‘Let Me Down’ just doesn’t gel the way previous Carmouflage Rose releases have. 2.5

Sam: Versatility is what Carmouflage Rose is showing us here. He can nail so many styles and while this one may not be as accessible as its predecessors, it’s got a Take Care darkness to it that I’m really digging. George Maple is a very surprising addition here but it’s strangely hypnotising. 4

Jason Derulo x David Guetta – Goodbye (Feat. Nicki Minaj)

Reece: The year is 2018. David Guetta is slumped over his production boards. He is weary, a decade-plus of soundtracking every low-rent nightclub in the West has tired his body and soul. But he needs a hit, and this generic dancehall song isn’t going to go anywhere unless he pulls out something special. Sia isn’t picking up the phone, Justin Bieber is choosing a wedding cake and he’s sick of being confused for Martin Garrix’s dad so he’s not going to that well again. David is hopeless, out of options. Nearby, a television flickers and lights up, grainy vision comes into focus. It’s Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Step Brothers, performing Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman’s ‘Time to Say Goodbye’. Like a lightning bolt, David springs from his slump, his eyes brightening. David has found the sample he needs. ‘Goodbye’ sweeps the Grammys, Kendrick Lamar, Elton John and Lady Gaga collaborate on the remix and it tops the Billboard singles charts for 37 years straight. Nicki Minaj still does not have a #1 album. 0.5

Sam: This song almost commits more crimes than the Black Eyed Peas’ The Time (Dirty Bit). It combines literally everything that’s popular right now in this mess of a mood board that really doesn’t work at all. Why Nicki Minaj would allow this to be released the week after Queen is beyond me but then again, she’s done stranger things. I will not be listening again unless I have upwards of six vodka lime sodas in my system. 1

Saweetie – Up Now (Feat. G-Eazy, Rich The Kid)

Reece: Saweetie has been one of rap’s breakout stars this year off the back of ‘ICY GIRL’, a DJ Quik-meets-Missy Elliot Californian classic, but she’s jumping coasts on ‘Up Now’ and the risk doesn’t quite pay off. Atlanta’s London on Da Track does a poor impersonation of a West Coast producer and ‘Up Now’ gives way too much time to Saweetie’s big-name guests, who can’t match her charisma. To be fair, Rich the Kid puts one of his stronger features and G-Eazy does subvert expectations by making no mention of sleeping with anyone’s girlfriend (!!), but this one’s still a step down from California’s fresh princess of rap. 2.5

Sam: This would have done very well in 2016 but it just sounds a bit uninspired now. Saweetie is kicking some serious goals but lumping her in on a track with three others is not a smart move at all. 2.5

NOTD – Been There Done That (Feat. Tove Styrke)

Reece: Tove Styrke is one of the most exciting, dynamic young voices in pop music right now so really, it’s an achievement to make her sound this boring. I don’t want to trash NOTD too much – they’re doing a lot more at 19 and 17 than I was back then – but their entire sound feels like a more agreeable version of The Chainsmokers (much nicer personalities, too). There’s certainly an art to these upbeat soft house hits that some pop lovers will loathe me for not appreciating, but this sounds so formulaic, safe and inoffensive. 1.5

Sam: I love Tove Styrke but this…this ain’t it. 2

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