Random Song Reviews 2/15 – 2/21/2022


Meat Loaf – I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)

Before we begin, I must stress something important: if you’re only listening to the five-minute single version of this song, you are, yes, saving seven minutes of your life for other tasks, but doing yourself a disservice ultimately. The music of Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman, as any pop historian (or just general fan of auditory histrionics) will tell you, is meant to be heard in all its overproduced, overdone, ridiculously theatrical, self-indulgent glory.

When I say glory, I mean it. Glorious is the perfect word for the two brilliant albums from this duo, Bat Out of Hell and its sequel (the latter of which houses the song we are discussing). But “I Would Do…” is a special moment, even for these two. Throughout, Steinman’s unchained combination of background choral arrangements, banging piano, Richter Scale-challenging drums and screeching guitars collide with Marvin Lee Aday’s emotional, pleading voice, the aural equivalent of witnessing a volcano explode.

By the time the song retreats for a back-and-forth from Aday and Patti Russo, we get an answer to what “that” is that Meat Loaf won’t do. You see, he would do anything for love, but he won’t consider it all a fling or a brief interlude or eventually start screwing around. No, he won’t do that.

Lyrically, it’s simple and poignant, and could all be explained in under five minutes. But then, it wouldn’t be Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman. And whatever you would’ve done for those remaining seven minutes wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting.

Score: 8/10

Janet Jackson – Again

I recently wrote about the sexy vibe that was #1 janet. single “That’s The Way Love Goes,” a song that ushered in a more sensual, mature era for Janet Jackson. The other side of that coin is expressed on “Again,” a sappy ballad that was written for her film debut Poetic Justice and sung in character. “Again” is a longing love song for Tupac Shakur’s character in the movie Lucky, sung by Jackson’s character Justice, and it bores me to tears.

I’ve never seen Poetic Justice, the John Singleton-directed follow up to Boyz In The Hood. Hell, I’ve never seen Boyz In The Hood. These are bucket list movies for me, as we all are wont to play catch up to consume the content that was made before we were old enough to take it all in as it was happening. But even though I’ve never watched Jackson’s lead acting role, I’ve heard good things. The song she delivered for the movie, however, is pretty standard movie soundtrack fare, nothing like what we had come to expect and enjoy about the boundary-pushing pop of her other music. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled on Control and Rhythm Nation, but I don’t think a Janet Jackson song should sound like “A Whole New World.” It just feels very broad to me, and Janet has always had too much of a singular identity for that.

Score: 4/10

Mariah Carey – Hero

“Hero” was the second single from Mariah Carey’s smash, ballad-heavy album Music Box. This was deep in her Tommy Mottola era, when her husband / manager was calling the shots. The song was originally written (by Carey and Walter Afanasieff) for a soundtrack to a forgotten Dustin Hoffman film, and Gloria Estefan was supposed to sing it. Mottola, upon hearing the song, demanded Mariah sing it instead for her new album.

Despite Carey’s athletic vocal takes, “Hero” is a schmaltzy, weepy nothing of a song, and that’s mostly the fault of Afanasieff, whose generic piano and thunder-drum arrangement is as predictable and safe as a C-grade Hollywood film. Carey, for her part, gives just the right amount of emotional oomph to lyrics that signify pretty much anything you want them to, whether it be a tribute to fallen heroes, or a retiring professional athlete, or a charity event for a poverty-stricken community. The song works as a go-to for anything, really, because the lyrics are so vague, almost to the point of being comical. “Hero” is one of Carey’s best-known songs, and it’s a live staple, and there’s no doubt it’s brought comfort and inspiration to millions. And of course that was the whole point. It was designed for universal application. But the song’s fill-in-the-blank approach also renders it banal and boilerplate.

Score: 4/10


Barrie – Jenny

Another pleasant advance single from the dream pop group, whose new album Barbara drops in March.

Score: 7/10

Sharon Van Etten – Porta

Sharon Van Etten’s yearning voice soars over a cascading wave of synths and rolling drums, drawing comparisons to The War On Drugs’ more thunderous work.

Score: 7/10

Helena Deland – Swimmer

Helena Deland delivers a tender ode to a vital memory over plaintive guitar strums. It’s pretty, but hardly as captivating as recent accolades would suggest.

Score: 6/10

Real Lies w/ Zoee – An Oral History Of My First Kiss

Wistful synth tones and steady electronic claps envelop a spoken-word monologue of memories and cooing female vocals. The song builds to something greater than the sum of its parts.

Score: 7/10

Excide – The Portrait, Now Perceived

American post-hardcore crew Excide have returned with a driving new single that takes a breath only for a shoegaze-like chorus before returning sharply to pummeling rhythms.

Score: 7/10

Fawn – Graffiti In the Hall

A random indie-pop artist with exactly one song on Spotify, but it’s a very pretty one, featuring a steady kick drum alongside guitar strums and a very catchy throbbing synth line.

Score: 7/10

Caroline Polachek – Billions

Polachek lets her voice take the lead on this new single, a bit more understated than the previous “Bunny Is A Rider” or her recent uptempo work with Charli XCX.

Score: 8/10

Pusha T – Diet Coke

Kanye produced this new jam from Pusha, proving even in 2022 (and amidst continuous drama on social media for the former) both of these veterans can still bring the goods.

Score: 8/10

fred again…. w/ India Jordan – Admit It (U Don’t Want 2)

Two of my favorite producers of the past few years collab on this new, nocturnal, pulsating track, perfect for the ride home after the sensory overload of the nightclub.

Score: 8/10

Willie Nelson – I’ll Love You Til the Day I Die

Preparing once again for a new album, the legendary octogenarian never stops working. He returns with a tender, if a bit bland, love song, incorporating his famous warbling croon.

Score: 6/10

Drug Church – Premium Offer

Drug Church hearken back to Bob Mould’s style of loud 90s post-punk on this recent leak, albeit with a Pixies-influenced haze blanketing everything.

Score: 6/10

Ibeyi – Sister 2 Sister

The French twin sisters score big points with this new track, a sort of mission statement for the duo and their music.

Score: 8/10

Rema – Calm Down

The Nigerian dancehall artist returns with another hook-filled leak from their upcoming Rave & Roses album.

Score: 8/10

Nicki Minaj & Lil Baby – Bussin

While a slight improvement from the clumsy “Do We Have a Problem?”, this new collab from Barbie and Baby is still missing the ingredients that make each of them so captivating separately.

Score: 5/10

Orville Peck – Cmon Baby Cry

The finest of a batch of new songs from the forthcoming Bronco, “Cmon Baby Cry” has the boot-shufflin’, singing-to-the-heavens bliss we’ve come to expect from the queer country troubadour. This one will get people two-steppin’ better than anything Nashville is cooking up these days.

Score: 8/10

Real Friends – Tell Me You’re Sorry

The Illinois-based emo heroes return with a by-the-numbers pop-punk track that will satisfy longtime fans but gain no new recruits.

Score: 5/10

Slayyyter – Troubled Paradise/Inferno Euphoria (Not a Friend Remix)

This high-energy remix combines the title track from Slayyyter’s previous LP with a new song, destined for floor filler euphoria on your next Friday night.

Score: 7/10

Mary J. Blige w/ Anderson Paak – Here With Me

Blige sounds a bit out of her element on this generic funk-based beat, while Paak sounds right at home. Results are mixed overall.

Score: 6/10

kmoe – it gets lonely

When the beat drops on this skittering, shimmery hyperpop nugget, it’s like biting into your favorite flavor of Skittle. Let the dopamine hit.

Score: 9/10

patchnotes – Baby

On the other side of the hyperpop spectrum, patchnotes conjures a chillwave vibe that also evokes lo-fi beats you can study to, equal parts theatrical and pensive.

Score: 7/10

flowerovlove – I Love This Song

Speaking of vibes, this one’s got some – a steady, swaying pop song that never reaches for the rafters, but rather remains content in its lane. Hard to explain, but you’ll know when you listen.

Score: 7/10

Kim Petras – XXX

The best track on an otherwise disappointing sex-themed EP that sacrifices gratuitous content for good dance pop songs. “XXX” is an example, but the beat here is stronger than what’s on the rest of the project.

Score: 6/10

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