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Single Review (#110 of 41)

Katy Perry’s “Bon Appétit” Serves Up Food Porn for the Masses

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Katy Perry’s “Bon Appétit” Serves Up Food Porn for the Masses

Rony Alwin

Katy Perry’s “Bon Appétit” Serves Up Food Porn for the Masses

Katy Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm” sounded like an early candidate for song of the summer, but the singer was ostensibly just warming up. Perhaps in part because “Chained to the Rhythm” burned slower than Perry’s past lead singles, “Bon Appétit,” the second release from her upcoming album, is a decided shift away from the “purposeful pop” of its predecessor, and she’s traded disco-ball scavenger hunts for pie recipe swapping. No soft political polemics here, just time-tested food-as-sex metaphors that hit like a meat tenderizer: “All that you can have, boy/Got me spread like a buffet…Appetite for seduction, fresh out the oven,” Perry sings over percolating synths.

Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd’s “Lust for Life” Is Utterly Cool

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Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd’s “Lust for Life” Is Utterly Cool
Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd’s “Lust for Life” Is Utterly Cool

If “Love,” the dreamy first single from Lana Del Rey’s upcoming album, Lust for Life, felt like more of the same from the soporific singer-songwriter, the newly released title track is a refreshing about-face. Opening with the sound of a motorcycle revving its engine, “Lust for Life” reprises the themes—youth, love, death, escape—of countless Del Rey songs before it: “They say only the good die young/That just ain’t right/’Cause we’re having too much fun,” she laments. Some ’60s girl-group shoops underscore Del Rey’s spoken passages, which make nods to the Angels’s “My Boyfriend’s Back.”

Review: Katy Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm” Is the Song We Need Right Now

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Review: Katy Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm” Is the Song We Need Right Now

Capitol Music Group

Review: Katy Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm” Is the Song We Need Right Now

In case you weren’t among the lucky few who happened upon the 20 some-odd disco balls strategically placed around the world, from San Francisco to Paris, playing Katy Perry’s new single, “Chained to the Rhythm,” the track made its official online premiere tonight. Rather than the stomping disco anthem the song’s title and inventive, albeit not always successful, pre-release promo might have suggested, “Chained to the Rhythm” is a midtempo—but no less beckoning—invitation to the dance floor.

Lady Gaga Gets Personal on New Single “Perfect Illusion”

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Lady Gaga Gets Personal on New Single “Perfect Illusion”
Lady Gaga Gets Personal on New Single “Perfect Illusion”

Even before a release date was announced for Lady Gaga’s new single, “Perfect Illusion,” Mother Monster’s minions were plotting to assure the song’s success, launching an ill-conceived GoFundMe campaign and creating fake Twitter accounts to construct the illusion that soccer moms are breathlessly awaiting Gaga’s new music. “Radio hosts hate homosexuals and stan twitters, it’s a fact,” one not-incorrect, if overzealous, fan posted on a message board (yes, those things still exist).

Single Review: Rihanna featuring Drake, “Work”

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Single Review: Rihanna featuring Drake, “Work”
Single Review: Rihanna featuring Drake, “Work”

After a string of underwhelming singles and several momentum-killing delays, Rihanna’s Anti, her first album in over three years, finally looks imminent. This morning the singer released a fourth single, “Work,” the follow-up to “American Oxygen,” which came and went with little fanfare last spring. If the first three duds signaled the end of RiRi’s pop reign following her departure from her longtime label home, Def Jam, the new track has the potential to at least partly justify the gold crown on the album’s cover.

Single Review Lana Del Rey, "High by the Beach"

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Single Review: Lana Del Rey, “High by the Beach”
Single Review: Lana Del Rey, “High by the Beach”

After last month’s string-laden ballad “Honeymoon,” from her upcoming album of the same name, hinted at a return to form, Lana Del Rey has unveiled the LP’s official lead single, “High by the Beach.” As promised, the song skews more toward the slick trip-hop of Born to Die than the rootsy rock of last year’s Ultraviolence, featuring crisp, clear vocals atop an even crisper, clearer trap beat and a hypnotic, percolating synth line. Though it’s an understated single by today’s pop standards, boasting lyrics like “You could be a bad motherfucker, but that don’t make you a man,” it’s handily Del Rey’s catchiest single since “Summertime Sadness” or at least “National Anthem.” When she breathlessly delivers the syncopated hook, just a hair behind the beat (“The truth is I never bought into your bullshit/When you would pay tribute to me”), lazy, revenge- and smoke-filled summer days never sounded so sweet. Listen below:

Single Review Janet Jackson, "No Sleeep"

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Single Review: Janet Jackson, “No Sleeep”
Single Review: Janet Jackson, “No Sleeep”

Rumors of Janet Jackson’s imminent return have been circulating for months, culminating in an official announcement last month straight from the singer’s lips that she’d reunited with longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for the first time since 2006’s disappointing 20 Y.O. and would be releasing her first album in over seven years on her own Rhythm Nation record label. We got the first taste of the fruits of those labors today with the release of the forthcoming album’s lead single, “No Sleeep.” Opening with requisite thunder claps and a rumbling bassline, the track feels initially underwhelming, an unassuming, if not soporific, R&B slow jam rather than the clattering, bombastic comeback banger one might have expected from the dance-pop legend. Once the “plush,” throbbing groove—accented by long, sinuous organ stabs—and sensually tossed-off verses kick in, though, “No Sleeep” reveals itself to be an effortless slow burner reminiscent of 1993’s “That’s the Way Love Goes.” While the single doesn’t quite match that song’s taste-making reinvention, Janet and company get an extra “e” for effort. Listen to “No Sleeep” after the jump:

Single Review: Mariah Carey, "Infinity"

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Single Review: Mariah Carey, “Infinity”
Single Review: Mariah Carey, “Infinity”

Next week, Mariah Carey will launch her Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace, followed by the release of a new album, #1 to Infinity, a quasi-update of the chart-obsessed singer’s 1998 collection #1’s. The new compilation will include all 18 of Mariah’s #1 singles, plus a new song called “Infinity.” She recently returned to Sony Music, this time signing a deal with Epic Records, now headed by L.A. Reid, who, as head of Island Def Jam, helped Mariah stage a comeback with The Emancipation of Mimi in 2005. But it’s unlikely the pair will hit the top of the charts again, at least not with this track. All of Mimi’s tricks and ticks are present and accounted for: whistle notes, sudden shifts from chest to head voice, verses sung in double-time, and product placement that’s, to quote the lyrics, “corny like Fritos.” But while the pre-chorus is strong, the non-hook that follows amounts to nothing more than Mariah breathily cooing the single’s title, drawing it out into at least 20 inexplicable syllables. The string-and-brass-laden production is a welcome throwback to Mariah’s early ballads, but like on 2013’s “Almost Home,” its primary function seems to be to mask the singer’s ailing voice. The state of that famous instrument is most apparent near song’s end when she emphasizes the otherwise silent “a” in the nearly indecipherable word “dream” in order to more easily sing it. “Infinity” will likely be better remembered for its lyrical content, which seems to be aimed at ex-hubby Nick Cannon, whom Mariah divorced last year. “Why you tryin’ play like you’re so grown/Everything you own, boy, you still owe,” she quips, before literally getting the last (raspy) laugh.

Single Review: Rihanna featuring Kanye West & Paul McCartney, "FourFiveSeconds"

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Single Review: Rihanna featuring Kanye West & Paul McCartney, “FourFiveSeconds”
Single Review: Rihanna featuring Kanye West & Paul McCartney, “FourFiveSeconds”

Earlier this month, Kanye West released a new track featuring music legend Paul McCartney. The move purportedly dumbfounded many of the rapper’s fans, who took to social media to ask, in apparently exasperated fashion, who exactly this Paul McCartney person is. The reaction was not unlike the one the former Beatle received after appearing on the Grammys three years ago. Now, in what will inevitably result in another round of both genuine and sarcastic head-scratching, West and McCartney have teamed up with pop superstar Rihanna. It’s been a merciful 26 months since the Barbadian singer’s last album, Unapologetic, but it looks like she’s gearing up for her comeback. Last night, RiRi tweeted “FIRST GLIMPSE AT MY NEW MUSIC!!!” (emphasis hers) with a link to her website announcing her new single, “FourFiveSeconds,” a midtempo acoustic jam featuring McCartney on guitar and Rihanna and Kanye trading verses about a night of wilding. The “Loveeeeeee Song” singer has often thrived outside of her usual dance-pop pigeonhole, particularly on reggae-tinged tracks like “Man Down” and understated ballads like “Stay,” but the stripped-down format of “FourFiveSeconds” only serves to highlight her vocal shortcomings. “I think I’ve had enough/Might get a little drunk,” she sings, with a raw, off-kilter, Tuesday Night Music Club quality. But rather than charmingly rootsy, her voice is scratchy and strained; belting has never been Rihanna’s forte, and it’s as painful as it’s ever been here.

Single Review: Gwen Stefani, "Spark the Fire"

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Single Review: Gwen Stefani, “Spark the Fire”
Single Review: Gwen Stefani, “Spark the Fire”

After “Baby Don’t Lie,” the first single from Gwen Stefani’s long-awaited third solo album, flamed out, the No Doubt frontwoman is falling back on old tricks, teaming up with longtime collaborator Pharrell Williams for the follow-up, “Spark the Fire.” Not to put too fine a point on it, she half-raps, “OMG, OMG, I’m back again…Finally remembering what is me/That is what happens when I get with P[harrell],” and sings about “losing focus” during the bridge. Williams has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance the last couple of years, racking up accolades for Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” and his own ubiquitous, Oscar-nominated “Happy.” And he was, of course, responsible for Stefani’s biggest single, 2004’s “Hollaback Girl,” among others. Unfortunately, “Spark the Fire,” which includes a nod to the Rolling Stones’ “Get Off of My Cloud,” seems more like an attempt to repeat those past hits than update the singer’s sound for “2015.” The track eschews Williams’s recent neo-disco shtick for the paint-can bongo beats, triangle, schoolyard chants that marked much of his earlier work. Still, “Spark the Fire,” not to be confused with No Doubt’s “Start the Fire,” has a better shot at reigniting Stefani’s solo career than its rather bland predecessor did. Now let’s just hope the music video is a step up too.