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.
Finally! Hallelujah! It’s happened! HAIM, after releasing a studio performance video of “Right Now”, has returned and they brought their single off their forthcoming album with them! “Want You Back” was written and produced by sisters Danielle, Este, and Alana along with Ariel Rechtshaid and BloodPop. The girls had not released a song from a personal album since 2014 and have not released an album since 2013. So, yes. It’s fantastic to have them back! “Want You Back” sounds perfectly suited for the summer. Subtle build up, harmonious back up vocals, and Danielle steady in the lead. Though admittedly my favorite part is when Alana takes over in the let’s-clap-it-out breakdown. I’ve seen some criticize the track for being too repetitive, too overproduced, but it never once bothered me. Their quality is clear and intact. Maybe it’s because I’m simply so happy to have them back. Maybe because it’s a solid track. Maybe I feel refreshed to hear a song with instruments. It’s all of these things. I can’t wait to hear more when their album Something To Tell You comes out on July 7th.
Also! HAIM recently performed “Want You Back” on the May 13th episode of SNL.
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.
Arguably the biggest star to come out of One Direction, Harry Styles, has finally released solo material. His debut single is entitled “Sign of the Times” and it is exactly what a world drowning in overused beat drops needed.
It would have been easy for Harry to release a trendsetting song. A tropical beat tied to his star-powered name would have made for a surefire hit. Instead, he didn’t go for something easy and typical. He went for something refreshing. Something that would make the likes of David Bowie and Elton John tip their hats. It’s true that Continue reading