- Five Films to Watch About Stonewall … Besides Stonewall - 29 September, 2015
- Symphony: An interview with Raymond Yiu - 25 August, 2015
- Raymond Yiu’s Symphony to debut at BBC Proms - 12 August, 2015
It was difficult to find an album, EP, or mixtape worth reviewing for this week’s Give It a Listen. So, what I decided to do instead, was bring you my take on three recently released songs. I hope you enjoy them, and feel free to offer your own insights.
Mozez – A Place Called Home
If you took John Mayer’s melodies with Ronald Isley’s voice, you would have A Place Called Home by Mozez. This former singer of Zero 7 is experimenting with multiple genres for his new EP which is due to be released this fall. On the song, which premiered Monday on Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog, Mozez croons about how he’s trying to find a home and how without love, a home will be impossible to find. When they asked about the song, Mozez said, ‘I hope to paint a picture like Sam [Cooke] did in “A Change Is Gonna Come” and John [Lennon] did “Imagine”. Even though I am not such great a painter, I would like to believe that in this song I have tried.’
While I can see what Mozez was aiming for, the singer falls short. One problem was that half of the chorus is very hard to understand. Whether it’s his adlibs or the harmonies being drowned out by the band, this gap interrupts the picture he is trying to paint because the listener has to strain to try and understand what he is singing.
The other problem with this song is it’s not unique and sounds a lot like other songs from years past as well as on the radio today. This very easily could’ve been sung by many of his more popular contemporaries such as John Mayer and Aloe Blacc. Ultimately, I’m going to have to wait for the rest of the EP to see Mozez’s full potential. However, if this is the direction he plans to go in, he will have to find his own signature musical style and presentation or risk finding himself lost in the pack.
You can check out the track for yourself online.
MNEK – Wrote a Song About You
The first time I heard of MNEK was on a Rudimental song called ‘Spoons’, so I was excited to find out he had put out a new video for his song titled ‘Wrote a Song About You’. The song takes an upbeat tone, even though, he’s singing about a failed relationship. The beat and melody is a throwback to 90s house and dance music when DJs commonly collaborated with black singers for hooks and verses. His voice keeps a smooth tone throughout the song, however, he does show some of his vocal range towards the end.
While this short song was clearly created to be enjoyed in a club setting, the song could’ve benefitted from a bridge. MNEK keeps an even tone throughout most of the song with only a short buildup before launching into his high pitched vocals. This makes them seem a little rushed and out of place. An original bridge is the most desirable. However, even a segment where the beat played without him signing would have made the transition to higher pitch vocals seem a little more natural. Aside from the points mentioned above, the song is quite enjoyable and perfect for getting people on the dance floor.
Beyonce ft. Nicki Minaj – Flawless (Remix)
So, when I heard that Beyonce and Nicki Minaj were in the studio together, I thought it would be for a song off Nicki’s upcoming album, The Pink Print. I didn’t know what they planned to do was drop a remix to what has become arguably one of the biggest female empowerment anthems of the year.
If you thought the original song went hard, this one comes even harder. It opens from the transition from ‘Bow Down’ to ‘Flawless’, but instead of going to ‘You wake up, Flawless/Post up, Flawless’, she instead proceeds to spit a brand new rap verse which references the now infamous elevator incident.
She then reverts back to the original lyrics and goes into the chorus. After that, she goes to a second bridge, and Nicki Minaj raps until the end of the song.
Here’s the thing.
I can’t really make up my mind about how I feel about the song. I don’t think the song is bad, but it doesn’t live up to what I was hoping for from a collaboration between these two powerful artists either. In my opinion, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj should have done an original song and left ‘Flawless’ alone.
Artists tend to do this thing where they take a great short song, intro, or interlude, and try to make it a full length song. And oftentimes, this occurs with disappointing results. A prime example of this is Trey Songz’s ‘Pantry Droppa’ which debuted as an intro on READY and became a full song on Passion, Pain & Pleasure. The intro served as the short, perfect opener to a steamy, sexually charged album that left you right where Trey wanted you for the next song. The full song, however, left much to be desired with the forced and uninspired lyrics in the second verse.
While the remix to Flawless is still a good song, some of the added elements to the full length song came across with the same lack of inspiration. It sounded as if she based the whole song around the desire to have Nicki rap on it, and no artist collaboration can reach its full potential when a song is written this way. The best collaborations generally come when both artists at their best, not when one decides to play the background to let another shine. In the end, neither artist brought their best to the table, and the final product suffered for it.
With that written, I have some questions for you. Have you heard these songs before? If so, what did you think of them? Please let me know in the comments below.