Greyson Chance – Honeysuckle

TRACK REVIEW: Greyson’s newest single hints towards a more ambitious next album – without fully committing on its own.

TRACK REVIEW: Greyson's newest single hints towards a more ambitious next album - without fully committing on its own.

Back in 2010, a video of a twelve-year-old boy performing Lady Gaga’s ‘Paparazzi’ at his school talent show went viral.  Remember that?  He had swoopy Bieber hair and skipped over the ‘eyeliner and’ part of the ‘eyeliner and cigarettes’ line.  Also, he was really, exceptionally good.

That boy was Greyson Chance, who is now twenty-two, very gay, and still singing.  Last year, he quietly dropped his second album (and first in eight years), portraits.  Despite getting some decent press, including being Billboard Pride’s ‘Artist of the Month’ for March 2019 (woohoo?) that album mostly flew under the radar.

Now, he’s dropped his second single of the year, titled ‘Honeysuckle’.  The first was ‘Dancing Next to Me’, a distinctly fine synthpop jam.  ‘Honeysuckle’ is, at the very least, a bit more adventurous than that track.  It kicks off with a single a cappella but effect-laden vocal line.  It takes almost a full minute for the beat to drop.  And when it does, that shit is minimal.  The production here (by Greyson himself, along with kwassa) is extremely stripped back.  That’s not a bad thing, as it allows the song to breathe a little bit.  The emphasis here is on the bouncy melody and the truly wacky vocal effects.

Ironically, though, those vocal effects wind up being the song’s strongest element.  The track as a whole feels a bit like a rehash, albeit a decent rehash, of the same stylistic choices that elevated Troye Sivan’s excellent 2018 album Bloom.  The problem here is that Bloom was released two years ago, making ‘Honeysuckle’ sound just a bit behind the curve.

Honeysuckle cover art. Arista Records.

Of course, not every song has to be groundbreaking to be good.  And this song is good, especially in the final 30 seconds or so, when Greyson’s voice is pitched up to the sky.  It would have been nice to hear a bit more of a build to something fuller and lusher towards the end, but instead the song clips itself at just over two minutes.  In a way, that’s smart, as it leaves the listener wanting more.

This seems like a song that may work better in the context of the upcoming album.  Clearly, Greyson and team are interested in exploring more unique sounds this time around.  Hopefully the album will fully embrace the inventiveness that this track hints at.

Take a listen to ‘Honeysuckle’ below and let us know what you think in the comments!

Postnote: This article has been updated from a previous version which erroneously stated that Greyson Chance was twenty-three as of publication.

Kim Petras – Malibu

TRACK REVIEW: Kim’s latest single is a great summer bop in a year with no summer.

TRACK REVIEW: Kim's latest single is a great summer bop in a year with no summer.

It’s only been three months since the last Kim Petras single dropped (‘Reminds Me’ in February), but wow that just feels so long ago doesn’t it?  These few months later, the world into which ‘Malibu’ is being released very different from the one that ‘Reminds Me’ was.  It is especially hard to think about these tracks outside of the context of current global events considering the stylistic differences between the songs themselves

Malibu Single Cover via kimpetras.com
Reminds Me cover via BunHead

Lyrically, the songs deal with similar themes with Kim struggling to get over a guy she’s hung up on, but while ‘Reminds Me’ was a brooding trap-pop cut, ‘Malibu’ is an effervescent slice of synthy dance-pop.  It’s easy to imagine the thought process going into the construction of this song – bouncy, danceable, lyrically centered around a summer drink… On paper, it’s a perfect single to drop right at the onset of beach party season.  But of course, for most of us, beach parties feel more akin to fairytales than actual events to plan for (and make playlists for) this year.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding its release, though, ‘Malibu’ is still very good and really, really fun.  The disco-inspired guitar riff runs perfectly alongside the groovy bass and percussion.  And Kim’s voice sounds as good (if not better) here than it ever has before.

Really, this song sounds more like a return to Kim’s pre-clarity sound more than anything else.  The melodies (in the verses especially) are very reminiscent of tracks like ‘Hillside Boys’, which many fans consider to be one of her best works.  It remains to be seen what the rest of 2020 has in store in terms of new Kim Petras music.  If one thing is for certain, though, it’s that now more than ever, the world needs bouncy bops (even if we don’t have any beach party playlists to put them on).

Listen to ‘Malibu’ below, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Postnote:  Unfortunately, as with nearly all of Kim’s music, this song does come with both a songwriting and production credit from the infamous Dr. Luke.  In this case he is using the name MADE IN CHINA – he has taken to using a number of assorted pseudonyms recently – for his production credit.  It is almost a cliché at this point to discuss how unfortunate it is to have Kim’s music constantly be tainted by his presence.

Keiynan Lonsdale – Gay Street Fighter

TRACK REVIEW: Keiynan’s latest may not be an instant classic, but it is a great summer jam.

TRACK REVIEW: Keiynan's latest may not be an instant classic, but it is a great summer jam.

“Gay Street Fighter” is a lot of things you probably expected it to be.  It’s catchy, it’s about self-empowerment, its gay as fuck.  It’s also a few more surprising things.  Mainly, it’s dirty.  Like… really dirty.  I’m not sure if I wanted to hear “dick goo” rhymed with “hard for you” – but now that I have, I’m not mad at it.

Mostly, this feels like a growing-up moment for Keiynan.  Up until now, his discography consisted of mostly saccharine R&B boplets with titles like ‘Rainbow Dragon’.  Those songs weren’t bad by any means, but ‘Gay Street Fighter’ feels more like the embodiment of those tracks’ potential.

Keiynan Lonsdale. Photo by Clifford Prince King. Via Shore Fire Media.

Keiynan probably won’t ever be ranked among the world’s greatest vocalists, and that’s okay, but what he does have is style and swagger to spare.  The production work on this track by Louis Futon is great too, all bass and brass.  It feels simultaneously bouncy and badass.  And if the opening spoken-word segment is just a bit too reminiscent of the same section of Good Charlotte’s ‘Little Things’, my millennial ass will count that as a positive.

 ‘Gay Street Fighter’ may not be an instant classic, but it is a great summer jam for 2020.  And lord knows we need those right now.

Listen to ‘Gay Street Fighter’ below, and let us know what you think in the comments:

50 Bops

PLAYLIST: What 50 songs best define the idea of ‘The Bop’?​

PLAYLIST: What 50 songs best define the idea of 'The Bop'?​

For 50 Bops, I wanted to create a playlist that really encapsulated the idea and the aesthetic of The Bop.  Yes, I wanted songs that are timeless and iconic, but I was more interested in the sound and the feeling of each song rather than how popular or famous it is.  I wanted songs that were catchy, bouncy, danceable, and infectious.  I also knew I wanted a list of 50 tracks without any repeated artists.

In order to do this, I started with artists I felt had to be included.  The greats of modern pop music – Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Madonna etc., and then supplemented the list with lesser-known, but still deserving entries.  For each artist, I picked the song I felt was their truest Bop.  Not necessarily my favorite song by them, but the one that encapsulated that distinct Bop feeling better than any other.

So what's in it?

In some cases, that song was a career defining hit (like ‘TiK ToK’ by Kesha or ‘California Gurls’ by Katy Perry).  For some other artists, I picked something of a b-side.  For example, I chose ‘I Hate Boys’ by Christina Aguilera, from her criminally underrated Bionic album.  I’m sure some of my choices will be controversial, and I will probably regret some of them tomorrow.  But, overall, I am pleased with this list.

The track list is ordered in a way that I thought created a pleasant flow throughout the three-hour runtime.  It is not in any way ranked by quality (or boppiness).

Ultimately, I created this list to hopefully bring a smile to your face and to get you dancing around your apartment.  I know I’ve been dancing around mine.

Stream at the links below.

50 Bops TrackList

  1. G.U.Y. – Lady Gaga ARTPOP

  2. Can’t Be Tamed – Miley Cyrus Can’t Be Tamed

  3. Stronger – Britney Spears Oops… I Did It Again

  4. Girls Night Out – Charli XCX Non-album single

  5. I Don’t Want It At All – Kim Petras Non-album single

  6. Greedy – Ariana Grande Dangerous Woman

  7. TiK ToK – Kesha Animal

  8. Boy Problems – Carly Rae Jepsen Emotion

  9. Tearin’ Up My Heart – *NSYNC *NSYNC

  10. Get Outta My Way – Kylie Minogue Aphrodite

  11. Irresistable – Jessica Simpson Irresistable

  12. Ba$$in – Yelle Complètement Fou

  13. Intuition – Jewel 0304

  14. Hi High – LOONA [+ +]

  15. American Boy – Estelle featuring Kanye West Shine

  16. Hung Up – Madonna Confessions on a Dance Floor

  17. Juice – Lizzo Cuz I Love You

  18. Waiting for Tonight – Jennifer Lopez On the 6

  19. Fembot – Robyn Body Talk

  20. We Run the Night – Havana Brown featuring Pitbull Flashing Lights

  21. Sparks – Hilary Duff Breathe In. Breathe Out.

  22. Demons – Hayley Kiyoko I’m Too Sensitive for this Shit

  23. Are We Good – G.R.L. Non-album single

  24. Larger Than Life – Backstreet Boys Millennium

  25. California Gurls – Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg Teenage Dream

  26. There You Go – P!nk Can’t Take Me Home

  27. That’s My Girl – Fifth Harmony 7/27

  28. Casanova – Allie X CollXtion II

  29. I Hate Boys – Christina Aguilera Bionic

  30. Physical – Dua Lipa Future Nostalgia

  31. Play – Betta Lemme Non-album single

  32. Rich Girl – Gwen Stefani featuring Eve Angel. Music. Baby.

  33. Fluids – Michael Medrano Non-album single

  34. Pandemonium – LIZ Non-album single

  35. Turn Me On – David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj Nothing But the Beat

  36. What Do I Tell My Friends? – Bree Runway Non-album single

  37. Anna Wintour – Azealia Banks Non-album single

  38. One, Two Step – Ciara featuring Missy Elliott Goodies

  39. Crazy in Love – Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z Dangerously in Love

  40. Primadonna – MARINA Electra Heart

  41. Rumors – Lindsay Lohan Speak

  42. Boss Bitch – Doja Cat Birds of Prey: The Album

  43. Mine – Slayyyter Slayyyter

  44. SOS – Rihanna A Girl Like Me

  45. Damaged – Danity Kane Welcome to the Dollhouse

  46. Gimme – Ralph A Good Girl

  47. Blinding Lights – The Weeknd After Hours

  48. Saxobeat – Alexandra Stan Saxobeats

  49. Be Good to Me – Ashley Tisdale Headstrong

  50. Comme Des Garçons (Like the Boys) – Rina Sawayama SAWAYAMA

After you listen to my list (enjoy!), head on down to the comment section and let me know what your all-time favorite bops are.