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First Impressions: Ariana Grande, Khalid, Marina And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 02/13/2019

First Impressions is our chance to have it out over the songs from the past week and slap a score out of five on them. This week, we’re putting Ariana Grande, Marina and more under the microscope.

Ariana Grande – break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored

Brent Alex: perfectly adequate song off a less-than-adequate album. Definitely the sort of track you want blasting when you’re feeling yourself but it’s not ‘God is A Woman’ tier. Also disappointing that she decided to use queerbaiting in the video after coming hot off of appropriating black culture (and Princess Nokia) in the ‘7 Rings’ video and the subsequent ‘japanese BBQ finger’ incident. 3

Jessie Short: When I first listened to the album from start to finish, this song was definitely a highlight for me. I was very excited but not at all shocked that  it got a music vid. In terms of the video – I was honestly hoping for more. It’s very much your typical Ariana Grande and Hannah Lux Davis collab. As amazingly talented as Hannah Lux Davis is, it would have been nice to see something less typical. I appreciate the /r/popheads theory that Ariana is in fact asking him to break up with her so she can fall in love with herself (thus the other chick looking identical to Ari and even wearing an outfit that she’s worn previously IRL). But the lyrics don’t really align with that so who knows. True or untrue, it’s managed its way into one of my fave Ari songs. 4.5

Jacqui Picone: Definitely not her best, but considering the power of her best (God Is A Woman, No Tears Left To Cry) it’s not really a criticism. It really does feel like she’s been teetering on the edge of appropriation a lot lately, that being said there’s always a fine line between appreciation and appropriation. It’s a good tune and it’s an easy dance, nothing special though. 3

Sam Murphy: It’s not the best song on the album but that said there are very few weak moments on the whole album. There’s really not many artists exploring this turn-of-the-millennium RnB right now and Ariana is just doing it so well. The bridge is expert and the lyrics of the hook are enough to make it a good song. If I’m picking a thank u, next favourite I’m going for nasa or ghostin’ but this is definitely a jam. 4

KIAN – Childism

Brent: I love Kian and what he’s done so far. This, though, feels like a tepid interpretation of the sound that Khalid has been doing better and for longer. I’m hoping that this is just Kian experimenting and that he finds his own, original groove. As for the song itself, perfect for playing on a solo drive, with the windows down and your voice straining against the sound of the wind. 4

Jessie: It’s just a pleasant, enjoyable all around good song.  

Sam: I know that Waiting was a breakthrough but I like this so much more. It feels like he’s really found his musical identity on this one, finding a lane somewhere between Khalid, Dominic Fike and Tame Impala. It’s so slippery and effortless and while I’m sure he’s got way more oomph to his vocals left, I like the unforced, fast pace of it. 4

The Chainsmokers – Who Do You Love (Feat. 5 Seconds Of Summer)

Brent: Surely the Chainsmokers aren’t still a thing? It literally feels like Alex & Andrew had a team of top-tier writers in to craft the verses of this song and everyone just decided to phone it in for the pre-chorus and chorus. I’m so excited to see what the Chainsmokers could accomplish if they dared to release a song that didn’t sound exactly like every other song they’ve ever released. Techincally ok but 5SOS are capable of great things and this is just not one of those. 2

Jessie: The Chainsmokers are very hit and miss. Side Effects was by far one of my favourite songs of 2018 and this could quite possibly be number one on my least favourites of 2019. As a fan of 5SOS I was genuinely excited to hear this, so maybe that excitement is what let me down. It’s one of those songs that could be sung by absolutely anyone and still sound the exact same. 1.5

Sam: 5 Seconds Of Summer have had some unexpectedly great pop moments over the past 12 months and while they bring that power to the verse here, the bridge and The Chainsmokers’ drop is really lazy. The Chainsmokers are like Aldi, they’re replicating all your favourites at a lower quality with a bad logo. 1

MARINA – Homemade Heaven

Brent: Sorry but when did Marina and the Diamonds decided she could go by ‘Marina’? To be honest everything after Electra Heart was a downward slide. Homemade Heaven is a step up from Froot (honestly what tf?) but still no Primmadonna or Obessesions. The lyrics are ok and the production is fine, but on the whole, for a fourth-album effort she should be hitting this out of the park. 3

Jessie: It’s enjoyable but a bit underwhelming considering the lead up to the rebrand. I just hope it isn’t the best that her fourth album has to offer. I can definitely see it being the sort of song that I appreciate and start to love after a solid 10+ listens. It might just take some time for me to truly appreciate it. 3

Sam: The first time I heard this I thought it was a really safe return for Marina but on repeat listens I found a fragile beauty that’s difficult to conjure as a pop artist. There’s nothing special to the beat but Marina’s vocals are exquisite and the lyrics fall from one to the other with stark imagery. There’s mastery in keeping things simple and Marina pulls it off here. 4

Jamila Woods – ZORA

Brent: Definitely appreciated the Malvina Reynolds reference in the first first but not a huge fan of the production.

Jessie: *added to playlist* Love it. Glad I was “made” to listen to it as soulful pop isn’t a genre of music that I’d usually go out of my way to find new music in. What a bloody great songwriter. Also led me to look at some of her older releases. Can confirm – equally as good. 4

Sam: Jamila Woods’ last project was also a bit of a gamechanger in RnB but this feels like the most accessible thing she’s ever made and something that will pull the rest of the world in. The beat is organic and timeless while her voice sounds instantly iconic – think Lauryn or Rihanna. This is pretty incredible. 5

Khalid & Disclosure – Talk

Jessie: ehh, it’s the baby of an average Khalid song and a mediocre Disclosure song. Not really doing anything for me. Both have had way better moments.  3

Brent: I feel like a Khalid/Disclosure tag-team should be better than this? 3

Sam: It feels like both Khalid and Disclosure are plotting along at half pace. There’s nothing wrong with it but it’s not nearly exciting enough to keep me returning. It’s a shame because it felt like both acts were on a little bit of a roll. 3

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