By: Kelly Dykstra, Courtney Miller, Jessica Pickering, and Jessica Whitesel
Follow The Peak on Spotify to stay up to date on New Music Friday.
“False Alarm” – The Weeknd
Jessica Whitesel: The first line that stood out to me was, “Six inch long, three inch wide,” so we are off to a great start. With what’s probably a penis reference aside, this is actually a pretty good track once you get over the fact that it doesn’t really sound like The Weeknd. This isn’t really a bad thing since it proves he is willing to experiment with his sound instead of getting stuck.
Kelly Dykstra: This song has a bit of a higher tempo than The Weeknd’s past music, especially when the chorus kicks in. The pre-chorus was quite catchy with the harmonies, and the bridge had more of his classic and recognizable sound, but the song didn’t quite live up to his last release “Starboy.”
Jessica Pickering: The Weeknd does it again! I’m calling it now; this is going to be the most overplayed song of Fall 2016. Way to go dude, two seasons in a row. #CandianPride #AnyoneButDrake
Courtney Miller: This is a song that feels like it should be really good, but it’s actually just really boring. There is nothing here that stands out as a hook or as a showcase of talent. Also there’s a lot of just legit screaming/screeching which I don’t understand or like.
“This Town” – Niall Horan
JW: It’s pretty, but honestly I feel like I’m in the ubiquitous sad part of a teen rom-com where the male lead realized that he actually did love the female lead and needs to win her back. It kind of makes me want to puke honestly, but that’s only the content. Niall has a strong voice and this song does emphasize it, so overall this song is a solid meh.
KD: Not a bad song for Horan’s first solo, but it was missing the pop elements that made One Direction’s music so crowd-pleasing. The most I got from this song was the confirmation that the band most likely isn’t getting back together anytime soon.
JP: Is everyone from One Direction going solo?! Like, one single from a boy band is bad enough, now I have to put up with each of them putting out new music? That’s toooooooo much man! (Honestly, this is just a One Direction song sans harmonies).
CM: It’s really refreshing to hear a song that isn’t over-produced or poppy from a pop staple. The lyrics are honest, the vocals gentle, and the guitar is simple, but still catchy. If people don’t start melancholically montaging their most recent breakups to this and cry-sing it in the shower, I’ll eat my hat.
“666 ʇ” – Bon Iver
JW: Overly artistic and experimental song name aside (not that this is the strangest track name on their latest release; “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⊠ ⊠” gets that honour), this is a more electronic version of five-years-ago Bon Iver. Lyrically, there is a lot to unpack — just like any of their songs — but this one isn’t as in-your-face with deeper meaning as some other Bon Iver songs.
KD: I’m not sure what I was expecting from this other than lyrics that would take some deciphering to figure out the meaning of, but I found myself liking the song more than I thought I would, with its warm melody and relaxing background.
JP: I’m still not a huge Bon Iver fan but this song makes me understand the hype a bit better. Don’t get me wrong, this still isn’t my cup of tea however I think Bon Iver fans are really going to like it — or I’m totally wrong and completely out of touch with the youths. (Honestly, could be either).
CM: It’s soft and mellow enough to be really good background music at any time, but I don’t really see it as being much more than that. It’s not distracting, so I think it’d be good for studying or working.
“Party Like a Russian” – Robbie Williams
JW: I was expecting a song about drinking too much vodka to forget the fact that you lived in Russia, but this is more of a political commentary. Which isn’t bad, but it feels very imposing, like I’m going to be swept up in the corrupt sphere of Putinism. So I guess it worked in terms of forcing you to think, but I wasn’t expecting that to come from Robbie Williams.
KD: How many more platinum records will it take for Williams to slow down on the releases? Nobody knows, but nobody’s complaining either. With tracks like this one and his previous release from Heavy Entertainment Show, people will be listening even after his career is finally said and done.
JP: Holy fuck, the dude on the cover art looks scary. Honestly, I’m just vaguely threatened by this whole song. Would have been much better if it was just people singing about vodka; but no, we had to have creepy chanting instead. Fantastic.
CM: The backtrack is really tight, and Williams’ vocals complement the fun-but-not-overbearing sound. It does get a little repetitive, but it’s easy to see it more of collective shout to the world that brings people together instead of something grating. The dependable beat is also nice.
“Cranes in the Sky” – Solange
JW: I want to like Solange, but she’s in sort of the same boat as her sister for me — overrated. It’s not a bad song, but I feel that given all the hype around anyone with the last name Knowles in the music industry the standard is higher for both Beyoncé and Solange. This is a good song, but it doesn’t live up to the hype.
KD: With Solange following in the footsteps of her well-known sister, it’s love it or hate it for most people. I don’t think I’d go as far as to call her the next Beyoncé, but it really does sound similar to some of her sister’s older music.
JP: I appreciate that Solange Knowles is trying, but when you’re Beyoncé’s sister — THE Beyoncé — maybe you just accept the backseat and move on. Like, my computer autocorrects Beyoncé’s name. How does someone compete with that? Answer: they don’t.
CM: Smooth vocals flow all over this song like sex. There are brief moments of dissonant, clashing musical tones throughout, which throws me off as a listener. But they’re few enough that you don’t linger on their inclusion too long. It’s an okay song.
“What If” – Craig David
JW: What year is it? This song sounds straight out of the mid-00’s. Vocally it’s OK, but in terms of production and lyrics it’s nothing that we haven’t heard before, and we have also stopped really caring about sad, pensive R&B that focuses on a relationship mishap.
KD: Guitar based and slightly fast paced rhythm, I’m getting a mellow vibe here. With that and the marginally basic lyrics, there’s not much the song has to offer.
JP: Oh good, we’re recreating the early 2000s R&B wheel. Are we sure this isn’t just Ne-Yo trying to prove he’s still relevant? *X-Files theme music* The truth is out there.
CM: I can respect anyone who can sing this quickly and I can still make out what they’re saying. This is some R&B I can definitely get behind. There are layers to the musicality and at least a sprinkling of honesty, so I can get down with this easily.
“Body Moves” – DNCE
JW: DNCE peaked with “Cake by the Ocean.” I mean, this is an OK pop song, but they’ve still peaked. They will keep releasing music because Joe Jonas is the frontman, but if they still want to be relevant they need to step up their game. ALSO IT’S TOO GODDAMN LONG, so maybe make your next song shorter.
KD: This track is pop centered and melodic, making it a song you can’t help but dance along with. Or maybe that’s because of the nostalgia from my middle school Jonas Brothers obsession. Either way, I’m sure DNCE’s debut album will be a smash hit.
JP: Is anyone else still floored that this is Joe Jonas? What happened to your purity ring, buddy? Welcome to the adult world, we’re happy to have you. Seriously though, this is a solid jam. Love it.
CM: The bass in this is making me a fan early on. This song is an easy one to dance to, as hinted at by the title. It’s a fun, catchy, rhythmic song that has me bopping along at my desk, so I have nothing bad to say about it.
“A.I.” – OneRepublic feat. Peter Gabriel
JW: The backing track makes me feel like I’m in a super fun video game where you can’t really lose. Also, I was pretty skeptical of the mix of OneRepublic and Peter Gabriel, but it actually works really well. There are a few moments when you get a hint of peak “Sledgehammer” Peter Gabriel, then the end of the song is full-on Gabriel and it’s just wonderful.
KD: Captivating from the first few seconds, this is another track that I’m sure we’ll all love and then get sick of after hearing it one too many times.
JP: This song proves OneRepublic should just stop making music. You’re not “hip” or “trendy” or whatever other buzzwords you’re hoping for. You’re just bad and outdated. I look forward to your segment on Oprah: Where Are They Now?.
CM: Right off the bat, the beats in this are pretty great. Not ridiculously upbeat, but super groovy. If you’re falling asleep, it’s not a bad pick to try and liven up your day.
“Play That Song” – Train
JW: This is not “Drops of Jupiter.” This the sonic embodiment of that one weird old guy in a gingham print doctor shirt who is always hanging out at clubs trying to hit on girls who are young enough to be his daughter, or just your weird older relatives at a wedding after one too many drinks. Take your pick but either way you end up with creepy 50–60 year olds acting like they are 20.
KD: It’s been awhile since Train put out something good, but this could be the one that makes them become relevant once again. Still doesn’t compare to “Drops of Jupiter,” though.
JP: Pour one out for Train ’cause they’re clearly broke. Why else would they keep making music if they hadn’t already blown all the royalty checks they got for “Drops of Jupiter”? Do yourself a favour and don’t play this song.
CM: This is not what I was expecting when I saw the artist was Train. The lyrics are still definitely Train, and the vocals are definitely Train, but the delivery is a little different. It’s more of a rapped, monotonous verse style and, I honestly am not sure how I feel about it… I don’t think I’m ever going to play this again.
“Cool” – Daya
JW: It’s OK, I guess. I’ve heard better from Daya as a featured artist (The Chainsmokers “Don’t Let Me Down”) and it’s just so non-committal in terms of making a decision about what kind of song it wants to be that I’m going to pass on ever listening to it again.
KD: Daya has a really nice voice to listen to, and the chill vibe of this song is good for unwinding. The chorus is a bit repetitive, but the bridge is interesting enough to hold your attention for a bit longer.
JP: No. Just no. I don’t even want to talk about this song. It doesn’t deserve my time. Just skip to the next person.
CM: There is nothing about this that stands out as either really good or really bad. It’s got a minimalistic vibe and the vocals are smooth and powerful, but there’s nothing here to set it apart. It’s not bad, though, it’s just not great.
“Ballin” – Juicy J feat. Kanye West
JW: I was hoping for more Kanye and less Juicy J. I didn’t get my wish. In terms of a rap song I guess it’s OK if you like Juicy J, but his best song is still “Bandz A Make Her Dance” which to be fair is a pretty low bar. This song doesn’t manage to even pass that mark.
KD: I was put off from this track as soon as the vocals came in, particularly due to the same repeated line for almost a full minute at the beginning of the song and again throughout. I’m sure Kanye will gain a little popularity for this track, but I won’t find myself listening to it again.
JP: The whitest guy I know once used the word ballin’ to express joy over the fact that our table had a parmesan cheese shaker (we were at the Old Spaghetti Factory) so excuse me if I can’t take this song seriously. Actually, no one should take this song seriously, weird pasta memories or not.
CM: I’m so bored.
“(Self-Proclaimed) Voodoo Woman” – Lisa LeBlanc
JW: So, full disclosure: this isn’t actually the first time I’ve heard this song. I had the opportunity to see LeBlanc perform it live at the Calgary Folk Music Festival this summer — I liked the song then and I still like it now. She is an incredibly talented musician and can make “Ace of Spades” played on a banjo sound good; if that doesn’t convince you how great she is, nothing probably will.
KD: I haven’t listened to much of Lisa LebLanc, but her music is unique because of her distinct vocals and instrument choice. The start of the song is a bit slow and disinteresting, but it picks up halfway through and becomes a little more instrument based and engaging.
JP: Honestly, same. The song itself is a solid 6/10, so it passes, but I’m not thrilled by it. I was hoping for more of an anthem to curse people to and I just wasn’t getting that vibe. The title of the song is my aesthetic though.
CM: This is definitely an indie/alternative song, but you can also hear within the first few seconds, the heavy blues influence. Then it gets almost garage-rocky and I don’t dislike it. The lyrics are also interesting, so I’ll listen to this again.