A View From The Top #101

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Sunday 12th November 2017

Based on a rapid calculation done by scrolling down on the PearShaped columns page back until the point when Adele was at the top in late 2015, I have come to the unsurprising yet bleak realisation that in the 100 articles written for this column over the last two years, we PearShaped writers have only reviewed about 21 tracks. There have been weeks of disbelief, despair, and resignation as one after another the likes of Drake, Ed Sheeran, and Luis Fonzi climbed up and firmly clung to the top spot for months with a song that only requires a few hundred words to review. Reaching the 100th write-up on Post Malone’s Rockstar, for me, personally, was a low point – the monotonous tune and the below-average lyrics were emblematic of what most number one tracks now sound like. On a slightly brighter note, however, we can now add a 22nd song to our list: Rockstar has been displaced by ex-Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello and Young Thug’s Latin-pop single Havana, and it’s not the worst track to have ever had the spot.

To be honest, I have never really paid much attention to any individual member of Fifth Harmony when listening to tracks like Worth It or Work from Home, so hearing Cabello sing on her own was a refreshing experience: her smooth, alto voice suits the song well, and definitely adds to its appeal. Like most of the Latin pop songs that hit the charts, the feel-good tune is catchy enough to make you sing along after the first two listens. Given the recent trends in the charts, I also appreciate the understated nature of the song. It’s wonderful to hear something in the Top 40 in which the listener isn’t suffocated with synth beats, high notes and electronic music. Simple and slightly repetitive as the track may be with just a few instruments, percussion, and Cabello’s voice, it’s still very enjoyable.

I’m pretty sceptical about Young Thug’s contribution to the track: admittedly, I generally don’t appreciate rap portions in pop tracks unless they add somehow enhance the message of the song with their lyrics. In the case of this song, it sounds like Young Thug was added just so the song wouldn’t sound too repetitive. While he definitely offers a break from the tune of the chorus, yet another autotuned rap about sex and money with lyrics like “Bump-bump-bump-bump her, like a traffic jam” and “I was gettin’ mula, baby” isn’t really what we need. Frankly, the unimpressive wording of the rap lowers the lyrical quality of the song overall, not that the bar was set really high. The lyrics of the rest of the song have nothing standout about them either – generic lyrics about falling for a ‘bad boy’ and remembering being with him, with lots of “ooh”s and “oh na-na-na”s for fillers.

Overall, this song is a pretty nice track to have on in the background every now and then, but I’m not sure I would go out of my way to listen to it. But I repeat, compared to some of the tracks we have reviewed in this column, maybe it’s deserving of a few hundred words. Then again, given the trends of the last two years, this is only the first of six columns to be written for this track.