Rita Ora – Girls ft. Cardi B, Bebe Rexha & Charli XCX
Attempt at wokeness backfires in predictable shades of grey. Offensive but not even emphatically so. Lazy writing, lazy generalisations and a lazy hook too. Talent crowds around the track, but can’t displace Rita at the centre, whose credentials as British pop’s It girl are looking dashed. Boring, boring, boring and brainless.
Backstreet Boys – Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
The ‘Boys’ part may raise an eyebrow – AJ looks like he’s on social security – but there’s no doubting they have the nose. A convincing comeback that soon evades and escapes the drippy pianos that cloud the opening. Synth loops and a beat that lands with a satisfying thwack. Pop fans rejoice, the ‘Boys’ still have it.
Nine Inch Nails – God Break Down The Door
LCD Sound…oh wait. The likeness here would give James Murphy credence to call out Trent Reznor for imitation, if he could take five minutes away from shouting his praises. Lacks the immediacy or brute power of ‘Come Back Haunted’, the preamble to NIN’s last album, and a little too meandering to work as a single. Though the ode to 90s acid house is appreciated.
G-Eazy – 1942 ft. Yo Gotti, YBN Nahmir
Tight groove where the lead is outshined by his guest. Yo Gotti has the raspy charisma to sell the refrain, though YBN Nahmir (no clue) is watery and lacks any presence, sounding like one of a million second-rate Soundcloud rappers. Competent, but lacking anything special.
Big Shaq – Man Don’t Dance
The joke may not land as cleanly – but it’s a better tune, and even more thoroughly blurs the line between straight-edge grime and Shaq’s malarkey. The melody here is actually pretty good, and the visage of Shaq stood arms-folded on the dance floor fits perfectly with his stick-in-the-mud persona.
The Joy Formidable – Dance Of The Lotus
Proggier than before, and with a malevolent calm in the place of post-punk thrashing. The stuttering beat is a thing of beauty, sounding at once like a broken machine and a sticksman asleep at the stool. Controlled chaos, and a welcome return for the Welsh trio.