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First Impressions: Cardi B, Katy Perry, Lizzo And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 02/20/2019

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 Cardi B, Katy Perry and more under the microscope.

Cardi B – Please Me (Feat. Bruno Mars)

Abby Butler: This track might be about as subtle as a Meghan Trainer press release but unlike any document that contains the phrase “smashing bae’s junk to smithereens”, I kinda love it! It’s unapologetic, horny af and catchy as hell. My thoughts and prayers will be with Offset when the music video is released… 4

Sam Murphy: It sounds like an offcut from Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic sonically which is not what a Cardi single should be. I definitely don’t hate it and I think Cardi’s verses are charismatic but for the superstar collaboration it’s meant to be it’s underwhelming. Cardi doesn’t need Bruno to sell records and Finesse was really not good enough to warrant a sequel. 3

Reece Hooker: It’s like they found everything that made ‘Finesse’ fun and decided to flip on it. The pacey uptempo throwback? Gone, for some uninspired early 2000’s trap-lite. Cardi’s verses are fun and fine, but even the novelty of her lurid bedroom bars don’t land as well given how much better she did it this week on Blueface’s ‘Thotiana’ remix. 2.5

Rex Orange County – New House

Abby: If you’re into ROC’s Randy Newman-esque wholesome lyricism and the heavier RnB and electronic elements of his work with Tyler Creator, you’ll be slapping this on high rotation faster than we can all cry at the thought of his sold out Sydney show. 4

Sam: I love everything Rex Orange County sings, it’s a bonus that he’s an excellent songwriter too. There’s an ease to this song even though melodically it winds down a number of different paths. “Every time I look at her I feel the way I did at the start, she’s holding me up,” is a beautiful lyric and a perfect example of the simplicity but power in what he sings. This really is just the start for him. 4.5

Reece: I’m still riding the high of seeing Rex Orange County twice in a week, so bear with this bias. That being said, ‘New House’ rules. Rex’s songwriting has taken another huge leap forward, striking a gorgeously conversational tone that manages to feel both snuggly intimate and universally resonating. Not only that, but he’s stepping into some new sounds that give the song a whole different dimension – it feels like an endearingly direct ode to his girlfriend, with all the expansiveness of a cinematic piece that could be played to a stadium. 4.5

CXLOE – I Can’t Have Nice Things

Abby: Trading out a slappin’ chorus like that from Show You and instead opting for a lower key, equally as infectious bop, ICHNT is yet another step in CXLOE’s inevitable road to dark pop domination. 3.5

Sam: This is two world class pop songs in a row now for CXLOE. She’s onto a great thing and there’s really no other artist in this country making pop that’s as big and unapologetic as this. This sounds like a Julia Michaels co-write which is just a testament to how good she’s become at penning a pristine pop song. 4

Reece: ‘I Can’t Have Nice Things’ is confident, incrementally building up and backing its own songwriting to keep you tuned in. It’s a gamble, but unreservedly one that pays off. The reward and endorphin rush that comes as the song reaches its stunning peak is pure pop mastery, full of thrill and joy. More of this, please. 4

Zedd – 365 (Feat. Katy Perry)

Abby: From his remix of Shawn Mendes’ Lost In Japan to the absolute thumper that is The Middle, I identify as a Zedd stan. Whilst this track doesn’t contain the same excitement, I do have to give 365 kudos for a wildly catchy chorus and a music video that’s as artificial and terrifying as Katy Perry using the word “wig” on American Idol. 3

Sam: I don’t mind this. It’s better than everything than was on Witness but here’s my problem. Following your least successful album where you tried the whole cyborg, robotic vibe, why would you wheel it back out again just when everyone had forgotten? Perry’s personality is actually pretty magnetic but these videos just keep making her look like a joke. The Lonely Island have videos that looks like less of a parody than this. 3

Reece: I went in expected a car crash, so I’ve walked away pleased that I just saw a car erratically mounting the curb. After parsing through Teenage Dream last week, I’m rooting for a Katy Perry comeback – of last decade’s pop stars, her contemporaries in Rihanna and Gaga are accelerating towards GOAT status while Katy seems on the slide. That being said, the comeback doesn’t start here. There’s nothing memorable or creative happening here and Zedd’s design on this is so vanilla that you could drop anyone in and get the same result. 2

Jessie Ware- Adore You

Abby: Smooth, understated, delicate and ethereal. Whilst it stands on it’s own feet, I also cannot wait until a talented producer takes Ware’s riffs for a spin with a cool remix. 3.5/5

Sam: I am all the way here for Jessie Ware’s return to the dancefloor. Teaming up with Joe Mount after the work he did on Robyn’s Honey is a stroke of genius and together they have made magic. Just like Honey, Adore You finds beauty in subtlety. It places Ware’s crystalline vocal front and centre while the beat gradually unfolds in the background. So damn classy. 4.5

Reece: Jessie Ware’s voice is a wispy, alt-electronic wonderland. The way her lyrics flit back and forth between the buzzing production, picking its spots to rise and recede, is nothing short of auditory beauty.  The verses and choruses melt into each like candle wax, flickering into the crackling fire-pit of a drop. There’s nobody else out making music like this. 4.5

Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

Abby: It’s never been a far stretch to associate the word ‘iconic’ with Lizzo. This track however seriously solidifies that descriptor beyond any glimmer of doubt. The soaring vocals, the masterful production, the breathtaking visuals and the way all were wrapped in a song that was casually dropped on us like it ain’t no thing. Not to be dramatic or anything but I feel like no score is high enough. 5

Sam: Lizzo’s last few releases have been brilliant but this feels like a proper superstar move. I did not know she had this vocal in her. It rivals Jennifer Hudson singing And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going but goes even harder with Lizzo sounding like she’s singing for her life. It’s a Bond theme, a Whitney ballad and a national anthem all wrapped into one. Mind-blowing. 5

Reece: Lizzo doesn’t give you a second to breathe on ‘Cuz I Love You’. Your jaw hits the floor on her belter opening line, then your head is spinning at the universally resonant ‘What the fuck are fucking feelings, yo?’, then you’re giggling at her bars about the liquor store. Lizzo’s two constants are quality and unpredictability and delivers both in spades here. A big band bop in which Lizzo sings the house down? Spectacular. 5

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