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“My Way” – Calvin Harris
Jessica Whitesel: Bye girl, bye. I might be reading too much into the drama of the Calvin Harris Taylor Swift breakup, but like a new master of the break-up track has been born from the ashes of that relationship. Harris crafted a break-up track that works for all relationship ends, not just romantic ones.
Courtney Miller: It’s light, which contrasts with Harris’ deep and raspy vocals. You can tell it’s from the same guy who made “Summer.” It’s not amazing, and the repetitive ending lasts a touch too long, but it’s easy enough to have on and not mind.
Sarah Finley: I’m not really a Calvin Harris fan, but this track sounds like it could be on a playlist for a beach party. Not to mention, with the chorus being “You were the one thing in my way,” this is most definitely a hilarious diss track aimed at Taylor Swift.
“Hurts” – Emeli Sandé
JW: I love her voice, but the horns and handclaps have the opposite effect on building the emotion of the song. I would have loved an uptempo strings section pared with maybe, like, a bassoon for the bass line. Because as of right now, the backing track is annoying as hell and I just want it to go the fuck away.
CM: It fakes you out by starting in a ballad kind of mood, but then that snappy percussion comes in, lifting the song into more of a kickass number. The vocals match the music very well and overall it comes out into a pretty good song. Would listen again.
SF: A strange conglomeration of quick clapping, slow and powerful vocals, and a dramatic horns section, I’m not sure how to feel about this track. It’s like Emeli Sandé couldn’t decide what she wanted the mood to be, so this is an attempt to combine all possible emotions.
“Under the Grave” – ROZES
JW: WHO HURT YOU??? That sentiment is not just specific to this song — it’s the theme to this whole playlist so far — but, like, I still want to know. In the ranking of these three break-up songs, it is by far the worst. It just fell into the background until the weird scream singing in the background makes you push skip.
CM: The vocal range is pretty great, and the track does just enough to keep from being monotonous. It’s a chill pop song that has clear distinctions between the chorus and verses, which is something I don’t find too often. It’s still comfortably within its genre, but it does a good job of not sounding exactly like everything else.
SF: The repetitive lyrics are your typical, heart-hurt, angsty teen pop lyrics. If I want sad music, I can listen to much sadder, and if I want happy music, there’s much happier. This is just a weird in-between stage.
“True Colors” – Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake
JW: I know that this is a Cyndi Lauper song, but I wasn’t expecting a cover. I honestly put this song on the playlist because I was like, “Haha, we can make fun of this disaster.” I WAS WRONG. It is a really good cover and their voices work really well together and I feel like I should apologize to the song for being mean to it.
CM: First off, I freaking love Anna Kendrick so I’m already heading into this song with high hopes. They took a more mellow approach to this song, less done up than Lauper’s version. If you like acoustic versions of pop songs, you’ll love this. Timberlake and Kendrick sound really good together.
SF: Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick combine their angelic voices for this DreamWorks rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” Need I say more? It’s Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick — you either like them or you don’t.
“Root Beer Float” – Olivia O’Brien feat. Blackbear
JW: TIL root beer float is something probably more than likely sexual or financial or maybe the actual drink, so TIL that I learned nothing about the youths. I am old and out of touch, I guess. It’s not “Milkshake” that’s for sure. The beat is great but the vocals just need to go away.
CM: Is “root beer float” some kind of recently coined sexual activity? Trying to figure that out took up most of my attention during this song. It’s pretty run-of-the-mill, and although it starts off catchy and infectious, it quickly loses its charm.
SF: Is root beer float a euphemism that I’m too innocent to understand? Or is this literally about A&W’s classic beverage? Either way, it’s exactly as terrible as you’d think. Admittedly, it would be better if it didn’t have weird laughter interspersed throughout, but yikes.
“Cinderella” – Mac Miller feat. Ty Dolla $ign
JW: Mac Miller should just love college and not really do anything else. I know that he has been having some issues with figuring out his sound coming off of that and it does come through in this song. But he is overshadowed by Ty Dolla $ign, and if it had just been Miller or Miller and a female singer, it could have been stronger. Oh and it is eight motherfucking minutes long and NEVER FUCKING STOPS 😡
CM: The starting vocals are nothing short of awful, so I’m automatically turned off this song. He’s doing some weird vocal effects shit that’s just annoying af. The next guy that comes in sounds like he’s trying to rap with a southern drawl, and just no. Much dislike.
SF: Oh, Mac Miller and Ty Dolla $ign. What a combo, delivering exactly what you’d expect from the pair. “Daddy told you’d better bring yo ass home.” That’s not how the fairytale goes, silly. My question is: how is this song eight minutes long?
“This Pleasure Needs Pain” – ådå
JW: This is a club track. Turn the bass up to drown out the repetitive vocals and just get fucking wrecked to it. Like, I guess it’s OK, but I’m in an office not the club so I’m just a sad panda.
CM: You are left with no doubt as to the title of the song. I like the low bass filled backing track — I don’t think the vocals contribute much to the song, as it’s basically just the title over and over again. Give me an instrumental version and I’ll spin it, but not this.
SF: Echoey vocals with lil bass drops and an eerie bassline would make this track dance club material if it were just a bit more upbeat.
“Lemonade” – Skylar Grey
JW: It takes a massive set of lady balls to release a song with the same title as a Beyoncé album. Those lady balls need to be comparable in size to the bush cricket’s — largest testicles relative to body size in the animal kingdom — since it is a best sub-par, and at worst one of the most skippable songs of the year.
CM: I’m just bored. There’s nothing new to this, it’s just some sultry lemonade. The bridge is the best part, where it starts to sound like something worth listening to, but it’s too short to justify listening to this equivalent of overcooked plain oatmeal.
SF: Skylar Grey was a staple on my early high school angst playlist. This track is more of the same, with slightly robotic sounding vocals, sad lyrics, and impressively diverse percussion.
“Reignite” – Knox Brown x Gallant
JW: Imagine if off-brand Chris Brown and off-brand The Weeknd had a baby, and then that baby had a baby with all of the non-singles from Usher’s Confessions. That is this song. And it sounds as bad as you would imagine.
CM: I like that about halfway through it changes up its instrumentals for a few moments and you can catch a glimpse of guitar. It’s a little bit seductive, but not enough to make it a go-to. The high vocals were impressive, but less so the more they just went on and on.
SF: Head voice vocals, a jazzy drum part, and cheesy romantic lyrics make this tacky track sound like something the high school DJs at my senior prom would’ve chosen for the iconic slow song to end the night.
“September Song” – JP Cooper
JW: This is how hand claps should be done in a backing track. It works with the overall feel of the song and keeps the uptempo poppy feeling. Lyrically, it is kind of repetitive, but it does want to make you dance — even when you are in an office.
CM: Okay, this is absolutely nothing new, but I still kind of like it? Like, it’s got a good beat, relatable lyrics, and bonus, it’s also in a pretty chill key for sing alongs? So while it’s not a fave, it’s still enjoyable.
SF: Despite its title, this track reminds me of summer drives on the highway with my best friends. Catchy and reminiscent of high school loves, definitely listen to this track if you want to over-romanticize your teen days.
“Cancer” – Twenty One Pilots
JW: I want to like Twenty One Pilots, but I’m past my emo phase. I would have loved this song 10 years ago when I was 15 — like, when the original came out. But on an unrelated note, don’t listen to the lyrics unless you really, really, feeling like crying over the subject of the song.
CM: The lyrics are beautiful, and it’s a really emotional, thoughtful, evocative song. The vocals aren’t the greatest — just not my style — they’re a little too borderline on the whining.
SF: I’m not really a TOP girl, but their cover of the MCR track could potentially be a contender for a spot on my cry playlist. The slow, heartbreaking lyrics almost made me feel like I was dying and leaving my loved ones behind, too.
“Runaway (Patrick Stump Remix)” – MSTRKRFT
JW: So Patrick Stump is remixing songs. Post-Fall Out Boy life has not been good to him. As far as remixes go, I feel like I am just being assaulted by random noises that don’t go together at all. It makes me sad and also kind of gives me a headache.
CM: It was definitely dynamic enough to be a remix, and I love Patrick Stump, but remixes are not my style. I guess there was technically nothing wrong with it, but remixes always have an overdone quality to it, like you tried too hard to make it a remix, so now it’s just kinda crappy.
SF: If you need to snap out of the funk that “Cancer” put you into, this may be the track to suit your needs. With rambunctious percussion and instrumentals that leave you feeling all over the place, this track will get rid of any sad mood vibes.