Fifth Harmony has returned with their first single as a foursome after former member Camila Cabello departed the group late last year. Before I get into my review I want to say that I like Fifth Harmony and am rooting for them. There are currently no other girl group acts like them in the US which makes them unique. As a fan of girl groups, I would like them to thrive. Though things seemed messy for a little while with Cabello’s departure it seems, in the end, both parties involved are in a happier place. All good things. Which leads to Fifth Harmony, with the help of Gucci Mane, releasing “Down.” Like said it’s their first song as a new configuration and it’s catchy, but it is not fresh.
A common tale for many popstars, and in many ways a common curse, is rehashing a formula that worked previously on a hit song. “Work From Home” was one of the biggest songs released last year. It received certifications worldwide and the music video garnered over 1.5 billion views on youtube. From a business perspective I understand why “Down” seemed like a good and safe idea. It includes a rapper growing in popularity, like “Work From Home” had Ty Dolla Sign, it has a repetitive though catchy chorus, and it has cheeky lyrics. It has the formula that worked really well before. In fact, they even brought back the same writers. If “Down” can achieve even half of what “Work From Home” did then it’s a huge win. The problem for me is the song is just white noise in today’s market which is already over saturated with the same old sound. Fifth Harmony may be starting fresh with one less member, but their music isn’t. Hopefully their album will contain new and more innovative sounds than this as I truly believe they can do better and deserve better. And while I didn’t mind the rap verse, it was odd that Gucci Mane took up a large portion of the song that could have been dedicated to members who were not heard much.
As for the video, all the girls looked gorgeous. The tacky outfits I believe are meant to fit the motel theme. Lauren Jauregui’s vocals shined throughout along with her presence. Normani Kordei knows how to work a camera and always has. Dinah Jane’s natural hair looked phenomenal. But for me, it was Ally Brooke who especially sparkled. The lighting of her room made her appear angelic and her dancing has greatly improved. I wish the pool scene had been more than mere close ups. There is some replay value here, but I can’t say the video made me enjoy the song much more. All in all “Down” is just alright for me. Not terrible. Not great. I’m waiting for better.
This week Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” reached 1 billion views. It’s his second video, after “Thinking Out Loud”, to reach this milestone. It is also the second video released in 2017 to reach 1 billion views, the first being “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi ft Daddy Yankee. Congrats to Ed! His title as a streaming monster continues!
Conflicting feelings are alive and well with Lady Gaga’s latest release “The Cure.” On the one hand there’s excitement. Gaga has returned with a pure pop song! Finally! On the other hand there’s disappointment. Gaga’s pop music of the past was so distinct, so catchy, so Gaga. “The Cure” sounds like it could have come from any top 40 act on current radio. Yes it is catchy, but there is something incredibly sad about a pop great being like everyone else. Is it because of her waning commercial success that she feels she has to do this? I am all for Gaga returning to pop music full time. It is what she does best. If that’s the case for her, I hope she can deliver more than “The Cure” did.
“Despacito” by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee has amassed 1 billion views in a little over 3 months. It has topped the charts in over a dozen countries and landed the top spot on the Billboard Latin chart. On April 16th a remixed version of the song featuring Justin Bieber was released which is sure to help the already wildly successful song gain more popularity in the States.