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Singles review: “Hotling Bling,” “Rumble,” “Writing’s on the Wall,” and “Hello”

Since the later part of the year is usually rife with new individual songs for the pop market, covering one album would be insufficient. Instead, this review covers four different singles currently worming into society’s collective ear.

The first track is from an artist who has become better known for his grandpa-style dance moves than for the music he makes: yes, Drake. Hotline Bling has done exceptionally well on the charts over the two months, peaking at no. 2 on the Billboard Top 100. This song is an odd amalgamation of minimalistic beats and lazy rhymes. Drake seems to be reaching for a more lyrical rhythm to his voice, leaving his rap tendencies behind to find a new sound.

Unfortunately, this new sound is nasal, overproduced, and monotone. This aspect of his musicality is far from perfect and needs as much practice and time to mature as possible. Aside from the boring way that this song is put together, it is incredibly catchy, with the hook that revolves over and over again, “I know when that hotline blings, it can only mean one thing.” We get it, Drake: you are getting booty called. Are we shocked with this as an audience? Not in the least. Would we like to hear more about your sexual exploits? Again, no. If Drake could go back to dissing Meek Mill, maybe his songs could garner a bit more substance.

Next we have a track from KDA, a new house DJ from London. KDA has only been around for two years, but he is making waves, hitting his audience hard with the tune Turn the Music Louder (Rumble) featuring Tinie Tempah and Katy B. Getting to no. 1 on the pop charts in the UK, this tune is catchy to the max.

Rumble is an infectious, moderate tempo dance groove with an excellent bass beat. This track’s straightforward synth and late 80s, early 90s techno backing has all the makings of the next dance club revival hit. At only three minutes and change long this song comes in and does exactly what you hope it will: make your head bob, your body spring into motion, and makes you hit repeat as soon as it concludes. Turn the Music Louder (Rumble) is a must on all your upcoming party playlists.

No beginning of the holiday season is complete without the newest Bond film and its title track hitting the airwaves. Sam Smith decimates the latest 007-inspired theme “Writing’s On the Wall.” This Brit knows precisely what it means to carry a tune, delivering his version of a Bond theme, arguably just as important as the movies themselves. Smith is a powerhouse vocalist and holds nothing back as he goes through this tune.

The lyrics delve into Bond’s past; being deceived and wanting nothing more than to love and be loved; but the longing in Smith’s vocal performance, the audience knows that this longing will never occur. “Writing’s On The Wall” is yet another masterfully crafted song from Sam Smith and his arsenal of outrageously great vocals.

Adele’s latest vocal performance, “Hello,” is a ballad to end all ballads. With every chorus that this song progresses through, Adele’s vocals soar to new heights right along with the instrumentation. The first verse and chorus is just vocals and piano, allowing the clarity and warmth of Adele’s voice to shine through. This builds to having soft background vocals fade in, deepening the sonic experience. And then the last minute of the song with replete with a full orchestration; strings, horns, rhythm; sweeping across the track effortlessly.

Although the phases of “Hello” are inspiring and transformative, the lyrics are anything but. The lackluster lyrics the track presents feel like they are from a song Adele had alreadyplayed. Trying to make contact with an ex without success is nothing new. Yes, it is relatable, but that does not mean themes need to be rehashed. If this track had been sung by anyone else, it would have never seen the light of day. Only because of the impeccable quality of Adele’s vocals does this song exist.

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