They Popped Off: SZA, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Greyson Chance
After the abomination that was Justin Bieber’s Changes, it seemed as if the pop genre torch would permanently be passed over to the likes of new artists Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X and Lizzo. However, the latest release from Lady Gaga, a collaboration from Justin Timberlake and SZA, and a presumed sleeper hit from former teen idol Greyson Chance shows there is still room for comebacks in this crowded field.
Lady Gaga-“Stupid Love”
For a song that was technically already leaked, unbeknownst to me, there was still considerable hype attached to it. Gaga has left the folksy, guitar strings of Joanne behind to return to her upbeat, synthy roots that made her a worldwide phenomenon, at least for this single. As the first single off of her sixth studio album, a comeback single of sorts, she’s already on the right track (baby) especially when compared to Bieber’s “Yummy”. He was criticized for essentially releasing a watered-down version of his last album Purpose. And while “Stupid Love” is reminiscent of her past work, she still sounds excellent vocally. Not only that, but this song is just fun! I think it’s safe to say people look back at her music much more fondly than his. The bass is booming and you can make a club out of whatever room you’re in with this one. Is it a little shallow knowing what she’s capable of? Sure, but it’s far from the shallowest thing I’ve ever heard. I want your “Stupid Love”, Gaga!
Greyson Chance-“Dancing Next to Me”
It is fitting to follow that up with a new song from Greyson Chance. He rose to fame with his viral performance of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” back in 2010. He soon did what has become common for viral stars to do, making an appearance on Ellen. DeGeneres took things a step further, though, trying to do for him what Usher did for Justin Bieber around that same time by building a record label around him. This label, which later signed Jessica Simpson and Charlie Puth, folded in 2012, with Chance’s mainstream recognition already having been dissipated by then. Yet, he still has a loyal following a decade later, though perhaps not necessarily made up of those teenaged girls screaming his name in angsty excess. This track in particular is relatable right from the first line: “22, he doesn’t drink but he needs to”. I hate to say it, I hope I don’t sound ridiculous, but I don’t know who this man is. And somehow, he sure knows me, like, to a tee. It’s a head bopper, and fits in perfectly with songs related to dancing in its various arrangements, whether it be Sam Smith and Normani’s “Dancing with a Stranger” or “Dancing On My Own” (the original version by Robyn, NOT that sad version that sounded like Sam Smith but wasn’t). After this, feel free to check out his previous single, the western-inspired “Boots” released late last year.
SZA, Justin Timberlake-“The Other Side”
I was anticipating Lady Gaga’s new single, but this one came out of nowhere. And maybe because of this, partly, I’ve been most into this one of the three. This will not appear on an album for either artist, but rather, for the soundtrack to Trolls World Tour, the sequel to 2016’s Trolls. Justin Timberlake found a hit for that movie’s soundtrack in “Can’t Stop the Feeling” which was pretty much everywhere during my freshmen orientation here at B.S.U nearly four years ago. One can only hope for even bigger success for “The Other Side” as it’s way better. The pair work so well together in this groovy track, with SZA delivering smooth vocals and Timberlake finding his sexy back. Equally as good, if not better, is its music video. It serves total late 90s/early 2000s vibes with intricate dance moves, fish eye frames and, most of all, chrome EVERYWHERE. I never saw Trolls, and had no plans to see its sequel. But assuming this is what gets played during the credits, I will gladly pay $15 just to jam out to this song, even if it means scaring every child and parent in the theater.