The Singles Jukebox

Pop, to two decimal places

MARTIN GARRIX & JAY HARDWAY - WIZARD
[4.60]


"Yer a animal wizard, Harry…”

Abby Waysdorf: Ohhh, that’s what this one is called. I think I’m officially old because I can’t keep these songs straight. I know I’ve heard this a bunch of times, and it’s King’s Day coming up, so I’m likely to hear it about a hundred times more, but damned if they don’t all sound identical to me. I like the little high-pitched notes at the beginning, though. Maybe I’ll remember those next time. Now get off my damn lawn, Martijn.
[6]

Alfred Soto: Tired EDM for Eastern European hotels, poolside. I mean, this is the sort of track in which a distorted baritone shouts “Drop!” before the drop.
[1]

Iain Mew: The “Animals” sound has already become so prevalent in Europe that there are dudes having hits by applying it to the Pirates of the Caribbean theme. Time for Garrix to switch things up, if not much. The wavering note at the end of a synth line that sounds like it would fit a cave level in a video game from before he was born — good move. Announcing the drop with the word “drop” — is he even trying?
[5]

Brad Shoup: The pirate pings are back, but they’re chasing each other hard, like a Harmonix game on expert. It’s less of a show-off than “Animals” — which has been lighting up our pop station for a month — and more of a pure nu-rave thing. The endless fadeout is screaming for a segue.
[6]

Anthony Easton: The placid bits here, repeating the same notes as tight and contained as a minuet, ground the speeding up of the rest of the work. It goes faster, but it never quite leaves the same orderly structure, abstracting the tension of the work into a series of formal choices that appear more sophisticated than they are.
[4]

Edward Okulicz: This really annoys me because it t sounds like a pretty cool track which has been forced, kicking and screaming and swearing, into the “Animals” template just as it gets going about a minute in. In other words, Garrix actually does have a second idea of his own, but he’s too in thrall to his first to get this to really work — as a build-then-drop, “Animals” was just better, and this is wasted potential.
[3]

Scott Mildenhall: “Animals”’ dystopic vision was a much sparser one, but this achieves a similar eeriness with a creeping unease. The radio edit has it best: foreboding introductory bloops suddenly giving way to menacing vwerps (technical terms, Google them) before the drop’s confirmation that you are indeed in a (very fun) nightmare. In keeping with that tone the video should have featured a young couple on the run from The Man (represented by a man, sporting wraparound shades), with a briefcase, inside a deserted factory. (It doesn’t.)
[7]

Megan Harrington: I’m imagining a future where our mobile devices come preloaded with the building blocks to “Wizard,” in much the same way the Casio VL-1 came preset with “Popcorn.” Then I imagine an even more distant future where we no longer need devices because our brains can connect directly to the stream and some old geezer pulls out his 20 year old cellphone to demonstrate the link between ancient forms of technology and ancient forms of dance music to a pack of confused youngsters.
[5]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: My ear assumed that this was "Animals" turned inside out, but a quick test of the Nickelback Effect (where you play two songs at the same time to see if they match one another) taught me otherwise. It helped me learn that this is a step down from “Animals” and its subtle subversion. Here, Garrix and Hardway have a voice yelling “drop!” which isn’t as good a joke as ending your club banger with Scooby Doo noises.
[5]

Will Adams: The idea of EDM being extremely self-aware — from announcing your own drops to trolling your contemporaries — seems appealing in theory, but in practice, it comes off as little more than a horde of DJs collectively marching in place contentedly. “Wizard” is the same template as “Animals,” of course: a melodic breakdown devoured by a slamming beat with a woodblock synth pinging over it. Don’t be fooled by the title; there’s no magic here.
[4]

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RITA ORA - I WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN
[6.27]


It’s summer (almost)! The perfect time for some ab unleashing…

Abby Waysdorf: Summer! Within the first few notes I’m already on my bike, cruising along leisurely in the sun instead of fighting the wind and rain. As a whole song, it keeps up that mood, with candy synths and a well-placed guitar creating an atmosphere of warmth and lighthearted fun. The “I will never let you down” refrain confirms the positivity. Sure, it’s a bit of one of those Coke commercials where attractive young people frolic around in the sun, but there’s a reason there keeps being those. Who doesn’t want to hang out in the afternoon sun?
[8]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Rita Ora is probably facing her biggest international buzz at this very moment for faux-sexually harassing a member of the High School Musical cast at an MTV awards show. It helps her case — as well as Roc Nation, who must be wanting some US-based results for Ora — because this gives the general public something to focus on other than her music. “I Will Never Let You Down” is perky, gleaming Eighties pop that lacks a spark of charisma to give it weight. Imagine “My Life Would Suck Without You” except, y’know, it sucks.
[3]

Alfred Soto: The treated guitar hook is the best thing Ora’s been involved with, compensating for her contribution to Iggy Azalea’s dreadful album. If it hadn’t insisted on including sawtooth synth hysteria in the chorus, it might’ve been a good recent song that transcended its women-are-muses content.
[5]

David Sheffieck: Some of the production touches are a little heavy-handed — I could do without hearing “Hey!” shouted in the background of a pop song ever again, thank you very much. The decision to center the verses around the bouncy, infectious bassline is a brilliant one, though, providing the sort of counterpoint that makes Ora’s voice sound considerably more interesting than she can manage on her own.
[7]

Will Adams: That Rita Ora’s persona has been wholly malleable up to this point does not detract from how lovely the chorus is. In just fifteen seconds, Calvin Harris bottles the same bright pop fizz that Betty Who nailed exactly one year ago, concocting a smooth mix of scalar guitars, bouncing breakbeat, and an ebullient “Hee!” hook. The verses may be indistinct (and Rita’s vocals may suffer from the same problem), but that chorus never lets me down.
[8]

Cédric Le Merrer: Starts off well enough by skirting the line between pleasant-slight spring tune and boring/bland unambitious filler. She probably won’t ever let you down because you’ll never expect too much of her, so when around the second verse you begin to tire of the little guitar loop that hooked you at first, it’s not like you’re really surprised or disappointed.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: Rita Ora: the new Alexandra Burke. You and your new single in an advert? You must be A Major Public Concern. If only Alexandra still was, and was still being paid for her antiperspirant loyalty, this could have soundtracked it. It sounds just as good in its ad as “All Night Long” did because it has a vibrance that previous Ora singles have lacked. She has personality now too, and is completely convincing in her expression of the kind of straightforward sentiment Calvin Harris is brilliant at. With a title and melody as direct and affirmative as “I Will Never Let You Down” it’d be a crime to go wrong.
[7]

Megan Harrington: In terms of revolutionizing the Loudness Wars, Rita Ora has basically invented trenches; this is downright subtle by her standards.
[8]

Brad Shoup: Endless iterating melodic fragments are usually fine by me, but Rita’s mistaken distortion for weight. But she does sing “oh” just like it’s done on “Dilemma,” and it’s mirrored by those wonderful yelps in the chorus. This is a Natasha Bedingfield distillation: signals and marks, a rush I don’t love but will never brush away.
[7]

Edward Okulicz: The cruisy-meets-bosh of some of Calvin Harris’s most boring singles like “Summer” and “Feel So Close” is here revealed to have been just a female vocalist (and not even a distinctive one!) away from working. Truly, this is one for those who remain rooted to the bar except for that one minute when they abandon their drink and/or handbag and go off on the floor for just a minute before returning to their standing position. I’ve got plenty of use for something this comforting subject-wise, sound-wise, and use-wise.
[7]

Anthony Easton: The chorus break and the general speed of this might seem interesting at first, but it is almost arbitrary. For a song that sings about both being frozen and losing control, this slides in the middle without a lot of skill. I just don’t trust her in giving me any amount of fun.
[4]

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crystalleww:

thesinglesjukebox:

ADRIAN MARCEL FT. SAGE THE GEMINI & PROBLEM - 2 AM

Crystal Leww: “2 AM.” sounds like every dude you’ve ever had some form of relationship with who called you late at night. Adrian Marcel, Sage the Gemini, and Problem play very different versions of that dude: the guy keeping it cool but making you feel like you could be the only one he thinks about when alone, the guy who was so reckless with your feelings but you kind of liked it, and the guy who was maybe not good enough for you but so endearing in his own way that you found yourself waking up next to him again and again anyway. Like those boys, “2 AM.” never promises too much, preferring to remain sparse and understated, but before you realize you’ve become attached to the curves of his ceiling, the smell of his car, the texture of his hands. The moments where this all comes together are special, locked away in your memory attached to those vivid specifics. When you’re in it, it feels fleeting; when it’s done, you hit repeat.
[10]

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This song is the sound of driving down highways late at night with his silhouette framed by the passing lights, his hands routinely shifting gears, and R&B radio playing at soft volumes until you park somewhere and make out until the sun comes up.

FAUL & WAD AD VS. PNAU - CHANGES
[4.43]


Your search for “alexandra stan house remix” returned about 330,000 results…

Alfred Soto: A European hit, which proves deejays can sprinkle house keyboards, samples, and horns like catnip on any keyboard preset.
[3]

Anthony Easton: If this was any more cloying, glurgey, or sentimental, it could have been written by Marty Haugen.
[2]

Will Adams: I hate how this type of dimestore deep house is becoming so popular — not because it means a more mainstream crowd is listening to it, but it does a great disservice to its predecessors, when basslines grooved instead of yawned, when vocal samples inspired instead of annoyed, and when horns were integrated into the mix instead of grafted on top.
[3]

Katherine St Asaph: You make me dance. Bring me up. Bring me down. Play it sweet. Make me move, like a freak. Mr. House Saxobeat.
[5]

Patrick St. Michel: Nothing wrong with the silver medal in the saxophone-guided-dance-track category. Going to be tough to top the one on top of the podium.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: An SEO disaster, but a musical wonder. The original’s phonemes wisely excised, but the rest C-ed and V-ed wholesale into a new, completely contemporary context. If to some the names are a Scrabble rack, the song is a completed board: disparate parts brought to order. Any potential disconnect — even between the nature of the choir and the words they sing — is too joyous and relaxing to notice.
[8]

Brad Shoup: Pnau once had the sense to remix “Grey Seal,” if not the ability to fully execute. There’s not much of a ingenuity bar to clear here: hush the percussion, toss in an itchy Balearic sax, tap the piano. But my goodness, let’s not bring in the kids unless we let them sing like kids, maybe? A cheap graft, even cheaper than the sax.
[5]

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ADRIAN MARCEL FT. SAGE THE GEMINI & PROBLEM - 2 AM
[7.25]


One hour to Eminem, two to Melanie, three to Katy

Brad Shoup: Songs set around this slice of the morning tend to set our subjects in the club, or heading home, the club still buzzing in their heads. Marcel puts us by the bar, but the loopy, trebly programming and pluming vocals sound like they’re soundtracking a cocoon. Commands and bluntness have no purchase here; he sounds immobilized.
[6]

Alfred Soto: On first listen it defines “meh.” Adrian Marcel should be confined to hook duties, where his anonymous pipes can project the required empathy. But as each verse pours out Sage demonstrates a quiet wit; it caught me off guard. The twinkling arrangement helps.
[6]

Anthony Easton: Beautifully constructed with that cage of rickety production. This floats and is grounded, working through a set of half-believed commitments. Maybe the best flow I have heard this year.
[9]

Rebecca A. Gowns: Quite the bop. My initial reaction was, “This bops, yes, but I think it goes on for slightly longer than it needs to.” Now here I sit, several replays later. Four minutes may be too long, but 16+ minutes is the sweet spot.
[8]

Will Adams: That organ bassline adds just enough sweetness to imbue their come-ons with the exact sincerity that comes about at 2 a.m., when it’s too early to call it quits for the night but too late not to feel the dread of going home alone.
[8]

Katherine St Asaph: It’s 2 a.m. Get this tinny cheery loop out of my head. Stop telling me I look different than all those other girls you can’t trust, man — which is bullshit anyway, because it’s 2 a.m., so I just look tired and probably like shit. And stop saying I’m horny. If you have to tell her, you’ve already failed.
[5]

Megan Harrington: Does Adrian Marcel bring Crishan his “Well, the bar is closing, so, are we gonna do it?” lyrics and Crishan furnishes the extra dull synth-synth-snap beat or does Marcel write to the track’s boredom? The sloppy verses from Sage and Problem (who are both capable of much better) suggest it’s the latter.
[6]

Crystal Leww: “2 AM.” sounds like every dude you’ve ever had some form of relationship with who called you late at night. Adrian Marcel, Sage the Gemini, and Problem play very different versions of that dude: the guy keeping it cool but making you feel like you could be the only one he thinks about when alone, the guy who was so reckless with your feelings but you kind of liked it, and the guy who was maybe not good enough for you but so endearing in his own way that you found yourself waking up next to him again and again anyway. Like those boys, “2 AM.” never promises too much, preferring to remain sparse and understated, but before you realize you’ve become attached to the curves of his ceiling, the smell of his car, the texture of his hands. The moments where this all comes together are special, locked away in your memory attached to those vivid specifics. When you’re in it, it feels fleeting; when it’s done, you hit repeat.
[10]

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BANDO JONEZ - SEX YOU
[4.75]


When you try your best but you don’t succeed…

Brad Shoup: Sex. Have you had it? Have you heard of it? Here’s my card. What a twerp.
[3]

David Sheffieck: I like the admission of vulnerability on display from the beginning of Jonez’s lyric; it’s the sort of thing that makes you want to pat him on the back and tell him it’ll be okay. Tell him that yes, she might’ve had good sex lately — but you don’t need to compare yourself to whoever she was with before. You don’t need to boast you were raised like a pimp just because you’re intimidated by the thought that women might be having sex with someone before they met you. I’d do it gently; he seems fragile.
[4]

Patrick St. Michel: There’s this part late in the song where the vocals get pitch-shifted down, and this deep voice booms out: “SEX - HAVE YOU HAD IT.” Incredible moment on an otherwise cluttered song that, considering the subject matter, should know less is more.
[4]

Megan Harrington: The vocal on this is just incredible: warped, pitch-shifted shouts stamping the song with “SEX” and “GOOD SEX,” dagger sharp falsettos contouring “ha-aaa-aa-aaaaa-aa-ve” and Jonez’s natural, silky mid-range filling in the rest of the song’s lyrics. “Sex You” isn’t exactly seductive, but it is incredibly eager and excited, endearing on its own terms.
[8]

Alfred Soto: Listeners nostalgic for prime The-Dream will swoon over the bubble effects and insistent lust.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: I know The-Dream, and you are no The-Dream. The-Dream would have produced this to sound less Priscilla’s-ad tacky, or at least done something half-clever with “raindrops keep falling on my….”
[3]

Will Adams: That gurgling water noise sounds like a toilet overflowing. Maybe Bando Jonez should stop nagging his love interest whether she’s had good sex lately and attend to that.
[4]

Anthony Easton: The sound of the water on the roof, the synth burbles, the directness of the invitation: the whole thing is so silly, and yet it might be a tiny bit seductive.
[7]

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EAGULLS - POSSESSED
[4.10]


something something hype cycle…

Alfred Soto: To let the stress fall on the title’s unlikeliest place is this English band’s novelty. The rest is influences without anxiety.
[4]

Jonathan Bradley: Murky guitars churn like a poorly printed illustration of a wild storm in an old book. Then George Mitchell, who has the name of a schoolboy in an old book with poorly printed illustrations, yelps like the not-so-wild singer of an old band who opened for a poorly promoted post-punk show in 1982. I was going to say that tunes aren’t optional, but my score suggests they actually are.
[6]

Patrick St. Michel: The guitar feedback doesn’t even sound that harsh, so the bad screamsinging probably isn’t even necessary.
[2]

Katherine St Asaph: YOU BECOME KNOWN TO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY HEADS DUE TO THE FACT THAT YOU TAKE CHEAP PLAUSIBLY DENIABLE SHOTS AT WOMEN IN BANDS AND THEIR WHITE KNIGHTS TOO. WITHOUT YOUR PATINA OF CONSPICUOUS WORKING-CLASS BRO-DOWNING OVER YOUR CLICKBAITY CAREER BOOST AND OKAY ROCK YOU HAVE NOTHING. IF YOU HAVE READ THIS TAKE NOTE.
[4]

Will Adams: Come again?
[5]

Crystal Leww: Hm, this would sound better if the vocalist were female.
[1]

Kat Stevens: This is worse than the time an actual seagull stole my sausage sandwich OUT OF MY HAND at one of the ATPs in Minehead. And I’m not even hungover right now!
[1]

Anthony Easton: I have been listening to a lot of The Drums, because the snow has finally gone. This also goes on my “winter is finally gone” list.
[7]

Brad Shoup: This has some neat melodic contours, and they really turned up the shoegaze for the album version. This being an English band, there’s no way this is really a piss-take: the earnest sense of anthem is far too strong. Is that a carillon in the bridge? I dunno, it sounds like some fuckaround ’90s indie act that tried to be funny and ended up with a pop song.
[6]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Passable post-punk affectations — the snottiness shows signs of life, but this is people singing into past reflections.
[5]

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ISSUES - STINGRAY AFFLICTION
[5.00]


You got your aggressively pop jam on my aggressively angry metal blowout…

Alfred Soto: The title suggested a K-Pop extravaganza, and in a sense it is: the chewy pop center at its heart tastes like Savage Garden or something. Don’t skip those metaltastic power chords though.
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: Thick, rubbery guitar riffing and the Cookie Monsteriest growl this side of 2002; you wouldn’t even need the scratching to ID this as nu-metal, freshly risen from the grave. And what an unexpectedly welcome zombie! Tyler Carter layers sugary harmonies over lines like “I don’t want to be tough/I wanna make sure they can see me cry” while Michael Bohn hollers “SUCK SHIT. YOU MEAN NOTHING,” which is so platonically ideal as a Hot Topic-core sentiment that I hope someone’s used it before. Carter counters with a stuttering, delicate bridge that is rhythmically tricky enough to tempt some reviewers into calling it R&B. Sounds more like New Found Glory to me, which seems oddly suited to such a dudely critique of normative masculinity.
[8]

Anthony Easton: I love how buoyant that mid 90s riff is, like pop floating up against a screaming ocean of metal rage.
[8]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: When reviewing Of Mice and Men’s back-to-basics metalcore a few weeks back, I found myself wondering about how the genre had changed after its mid-noughties commercial peak. To make sure that times have changed, we have bands like Issues — bands that merge standard-issue rage belches with mismatched genre explorations. In recent years, doses of Fisher Price EDM have been the way forward for the most eclectic of brocore acts; on “Stingray Affliction”, yelped temper tantrums give way to middle-eights containing pop-punk-via-Trey Songz impressions. Is it progress? I guess. Is it progressive? Did you not read “pop-punk-via-Trey Songz impressions”?
[4]

Crystal Leww: The moments of this that are pop punk than nu-metal are really good. I can’t believe this musical movement is coming back.
[4]

Patrick St. Michel: High school wasn’t that long ago, and I remember the kids who loved Slipknot tended to also be tipped off to “A Favor House Atlantic” before anyone else. Which is to say, Issues’ growly scream-pit swiveling into pop-punk confessional back into guttural meat hook is not breaking any new ground. We already lived through Linkin Park once; we do not need more nu-metal with turntable scratches. Every generation needs to find music that balances anger with sweetness. I just wish the kids didn’t have to deal with that faux R&B bit near the end.
[3]

Megan Harrington: This is pretty awful, but not for the obvious nu-metal reasons that suggest themselves immediately. There’s no reason why a blend of metal, hip hop, and R&B couldn’t work, even though there’s no precedent for it working. CountrEDM fuses two genres that appear opposed on the surface but complement each other in strangely pleasant ways. What plagues “Stingray Affliction” is the lack of fusion. The song may as well organize each of its influences into its own suite, there is so little interaction between the metal, the hip hop, and the R&B. Ultimately, this is nothing we haven’t heard before. Issues come as close as Linkin Park ever did to fusing rock with more contemporary pop music, but the outcome remains heavily stratified.
[4]

Brad Shoup: Oh sure, when BiS does it it’s awesome.
[4]

Edward Okulicz: The transition from the J-pop-ish section from 50 seconds in, back into the vocal fry-laden metal the track opens with is extremely dramatic and effective, a great Impotent Dude Primal Scream moment of the type beloved of nu-metal practitioners. Yep, it’s two great tastes that taste great together. It’s just a pity the trick’s only used once. On the second go around, the pop side of this cookie ditches the exhiliration in favour of a dodgy R&B jam and the ideas don’t seem like they mix that well and the execution just isn’t as fun — in that regard, it’s less like a delicious black-and-white cookie and rather more like Linkin Park’s similarly disjointed “Crawling.”
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: I think Soulseek’s chatrooms are leaking.
[3]

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PARAMORE - AIN’T IT FUN
[7.65]


You draw your own conclusions from the number of reviews.

Zach Lyon: One of three perfect songs off Paramore, I still have to dock the single edit a point. Though it isn’t as bad as I was bracing for, it cuts out the soloist, which is sort of unforgivable; I’m always at least a little wary of the trope of white rock bands using gospel choirs, but they actually remembered the soloist! (And their history as a sorta-Christian band makes it a bit easier to rationalize.) All at once Hayley and the choir taunt, tease, scold and support — I don’t buy for a second that the chant doesn’t involve all four specifics. Her big sister act doesn’t smother out the “milliennial”/twee Thought Cataloguisms floating through the atmosphere, but I just spent an hour getting lost in D.C. looking for the moon so it’s not like I can talk.
[9]

Will Adams: Oscillating between sharp-tongued and sympathetic, “Ain’t It Fun” couches its sobering message in xylophones and synth stabs. Williams navigates the confused emotions brilliantly, sounding simultaneously terrified, resigned, hopeful, and determined at the prospect of living in the real world. This is the graduation song no one wants to sing but always lurks underneath.
[7]

David Sheffieck: Half a dozen bits of this sound like half a dozen other songs I remember loving, but Hayley Williams’s distinctive vocal, whether yelping or chanting or cooing, effectively erases them from memory. Massively, life-affirmingly hook-filled.
[9]

Crystal Leww: I really liked Paramore too, but “Ain’t It Fun” is really corny, maybe even a little trite, complete with a breakdown with stomping that taunts you about crying to your momma. It just sounds so cartoonishly nihilistic, like a version of Paramore that Fueled by Ramen was trying to peddle out to preteens in 2006 to sell records. This is a marked regression after a fantastic progression.
[4]

Patrick St. Michel: Paramore aren’t content to simply roll their eyes, to build one of the catchiest choruses from the sentiment “dude, wake up,” and to make this side-eye of a song sound — yep — fun. They go and include a choir interlude to really drive the close-minded-ness of whatever delusional person this song is aimed at…and it sounds really good too, more than just another gadget in a Mouse-Trap-worthy kiss off. And that’s the secret of “Ain’t It Fun” — it might be goofing on some jerk, but Paramore make sure that hook can still resonate with folks who already knew.
[7]

Anthony Easton: The rolling precussion, and the handclaps, make this sound like one of those songs released for American graduations, but it might also be sarcastic. I have always been fond of irony that can be used for earnestness or earnestness that can be used for sincerity.
[6]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: “Ain’t It Fun” is the exact moment on last year’s self-titled that Paramore leave behind their existence as a great pop-punk band and become the best pop group in the world. The entire song from top to bottom is an intricate hook machine, brimming with bells’n’whistles that strengthen the melodies rather than flood it with clashing ideas. And that’s before the choir come in, the first time in years a choir appearance doesn’t sound alarm bells. The song is about growing up and accepting actions have consequences - it’s about Living In The Real World. For five minutes, Paramore transcend The Real World.
[9]

Alfred Soto: The best kiss-off since DJ Quik’s “Ghetto Rendezvous” keeps mutating into ever catchier parts, the culmination of which is the chorus of taunts — one of the best uses of choir since “Like a Prayer.” At the center is Hayley Williams, testifying and radiant and her own woman, hurling the title’s rhetorical question as if she’s aware that yes, it is fun living in her boyfriend’s idea of a real world. The quality of mercy is measured by guitar licks.
[9]

Mallory O’Donnell: More than decent Sheila E rip with better verse than chorus bits and a slightly overlong breakdown. It ain’t not fun, but why the hell is everyone trying to marry it?
[6]

Juana Giaimo: We all know that Paramore is mostly about Hayley Williams, but the single version of “Ain’t It Fun” highlights her vocals a little too much. The synths of the prechorus are much missed as well as the detailed guitar-work during the last part with the gospel choir, which are both mixed really low in the new version. The shortening of the first prechorus also makes the song seem too rushed. But the most annoying change is that unnecessary echo on Hayley’s voice! But despite the minor changes, “Ain’t It Fun” is still “Ain’t It Fun” and it’s indeed a lot of fun.
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: A winning pastiche of The Dilettantes, ’80s synthfunk and arena gospel clapper. It’s less a sleeper hit than hit grandfathered in (basically, we paid for this with “The Only Exception”), but it’s still a charming surprise to see it chart.
[7]

Megan Harrington: “Ain’t It Fun” has a broad sound that could (and did) appeal to wide swathes of fans: the gospel breakdown, the bubblegum keys, the power chords, it’s a song any member of the family is allowed to put on during a long car ride.
[9]

Josh Langhoff: The most Teena Marie-ed performance I’ve heard from Hayley Williams — “wellyoucanringanybo-dy’s bell,” right on — escalates into a singalong chant that could dupe any thumbsucking solipsist into staging his own intervention. As good as Williams and the song are, they move from section to section with an evident forethought that precludes any sense of spontaneous rush. Seeing the blueprints tends to suck out the fun. But yeah, still pretty fun.
[7]

Brad Shoup: The track yearns to swing, and the players almost oblige. The pep of the track nearly overwhelms the curdled sentiment, like the guitar buzz drowning out Williams in the chorus. It’s that cod-gospel bit that did it for me: it’s less of a taunt than a really kind intervention.
[8]

Jonathan Bradley: Although “Ain’t It Fun” isn’t a title entirely bereft of irony, it does genuinely locate the joy in emerging from the turbulence, even if it can’t be done unscathed. The chorus’s not-quite-sure yet not-quite-sarcastic “Ain’t it good living on your own?” acknowledges the bravery as well as the necessity of self-reliance, and “What are you gonna do when the world don’t revolve around you” is comforting because telling yourself to find some maturity is nearly as satisfying as telling other people. The coda, “Don’t go crying to your mama,” demonstrates that more pep talks should include gospel choirs.
[9]

Andy Hutchins: I had no idea Hayley Williams was probably singing about her ex-bandmates the Farros until I heard (while driving on Parramore Avenue in Orlando, seriously) a DJ coyly hint at that possibility. With or without knowledge of a specific target, this is brilliant pop-punk, with Williams vamping wonderfully — somehow, the carrot-colored hair comes through in the soaring hook, and cute is only part of what is being aimed for. A gospel choir backing Williams over a rolling bridge of that unfuckwithable “Don’t go cryyyyin’/To your maaaama/’Cause you’re on your own/In the reallll world” is arguably only the fourth-best thing about this song, a “Since U Been Gone” for anyone who has ever worked with the wrong person. It is a triumph.
[10]

Scott Mildenhall: Yep!
[7]

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KREPT & KONAN FT. CHIP, FRENCH MONTANA, WRETCH 32, CHINX DRUGZ & FEKKY - DON’T WASTE MY TIME
[4.33]


Remember when Daft Punk had that song called “Too Long”…?

Will Adams: Hey, no fair! You just wasted five and a half minutes of my time!
[3]

David Sheffieck: The feature list longer than my arm actually works fairly well together, but the production pulls this down a couple notches: the backing vocals sound consistently goofy, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never felt sicker of sirens than I did sometime around the fifth verse.
[5]

Brad Shoup: The original was so soaked in American hip-hop, why not go full Beetlejuice and summon French? He actually fits well in context — “jeweler don’t waste my time” is the best riff on the hook. The track is as grim as trailer music, lots of controlled detonations and brass rumbles. But if time so’s precious, they’ve got a lot of it to kill.
[6]

Crystal Leww: The debate continues to rage, but “Don’t Waste My Time” convincingly makes the case that regionalism in rap music is dead. “Don’t Waste My Time” has all the elements of a Chicago drill track with a cavernous beat that rattles and bangs, non-stop ad-libbing and airhorns, and a hook that is relies heavily on repetition combined with a fuck-off attitude. It’s by a few UK-based rappers and a couple of NYC Coke Boys, but it’s a track that would make King Louie and Katie Got Bandz proud… if it were something like three guest verses shorter. We get it; you have famous friends, but this beat was never dynamic enough to hold anyone’s attention for this long.
[5]

Josh Langhoff: Oh my word, this is terrible. Part of the problem (the part that’s not anti-Semitic or woman objectifying or sort-of-but-not-really apologizing for the woman objectifying) is the beat, which keeps cutting out every fourth line like it expects someone to say something witty. Nobody takes the beat up on this offer.
[1]

Anthony Easton: I am not sure if the sluggish quality of this is an (almost decadent) purposeful choice, or just a formally ossified laziness. There are arguments in favour of both, but the 2 a.m. hook, with the ooh sighs over it, suggests the latter.
[6]

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