Vance Joy- “Like Gold”
Vance Joy released his second single of 2017 on Nov. 2, a calm-yet-building acoustic song titled “Like Gold.” Despite the single’s shining name, the new release is ironically lackluster in comparison to his popular debut album Dream Your Life Away, which included chart toppers “Riptide” and “Mess Is Mine.” While the acoustic guitar and building kick drum are consistent with Vance Joy’s past work, his voice on “Like Gold” seems to fall flat and lack the vulnerability that makes his past work so charming. The lyrics take listeners back to the golden days of a relationship that has since lost its shine. James Gabriel Wanderson Keogh, the man behind the stage name “Vance Joy,” sings “Blue, how we used to / Roar, like an open fire.” This lyric is especially clever as it not only conveys the sadness at the lost excitement in invoking shades of “blue,” but also recalls the fiery love so hot it roared and burned blue. While Keogh maintains his love-drunk persona on the single, listeners cannot help but wonder why his voice sounds so inexplicably different on the new track.
U2 feat. Kendrick Lamar- “Get Out of Your Own Way”
Despite having a career that spans four decades and includes iconic hits like “With Or Without You” and “One,” U2 continues to write new music. The legendary Irish band released the single “Get Out of Your Own Way” on Nov. 1. The upbeat track admits harsh realities like “Love has got to fight for its existence” in its first verse and then encourages the listener with lyrics like “Nothing’s stopping you except what’s inside” in the post-chorus. The song is accompanied by traditional classic rock guitar riffs and drum beats, but adds a techno-synthetic beat weaved throughout the song thus refinishing the age-old genre norms.
While the song simply does not compare to the band’s past works, some of the most critically acclaimed of their time, U2 makes an earnest attempt to connect with the younger generations by enlisting all star rapper Kendrick Lamar on the track. Tthe single is not the first collaboration between the two living legends—U2 was featured on the track “XXX.” on Kendrick’s highly regarded 2017 album DAMN. Kendrick’s feature on U2’s new track seems slightly out of place, as they restrict the rapper’s unparalleled skills by granting Lamar only a lacking musically, yet triumphant in tone outro rather than an actual verse embedded in the song. Perhaps releasing this single, in addition to delivering an electric performance at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival—its second festival appearance of their entire career—is a strategic move to expand its fan base to include younger fans.
Taylor Swift- “Call It What You Want”
Taylor Swift released the fourth single from her upcoming Reputation album, a synthetically driven, quintessential whiny Taylor Swift love song titled “Call It What You Want.” The beat, which is presumably completely generated by a synthesizer and keyboard, sounds as though it could have been developed for any pop star—exposing Swift’s difficulty in distinguishing herself from other pop artists as she has done on past albums. Swift drops the bad girl façade on the track, but unfortunately continues her habit of self-victimization on the track, keeping in tune with some of the other singles of the album. Swift’s voice sounds overly autotuned on the track and fails to display any range.
The worst feature of the track, however, is the lack of lyrical direction. Words like “All the liars are calling me one” and “My baby’s fly like a jet stream” just come across as tired and unfinished. The worst lyric comes when the 27-year-old muses “I want to wear his initial / On a chain round my neck, chain round my neck / Not because he owns me.” Again, Swift reverts to faux-feminism in claiming that she is somehow a liberated woman because she does not let the men she dates own her,a form of oppression that most modern women release without needing song lyrics. Swift again proves that the only subject she is capable of writing about is love. While the feminist and love-song criticisms are nothing new to Swift, the pop music powerhouse has never struggled more to find a definite and original sound than she is with her upcoming album.
Featured Image by Atlantic Records