Ariana Grande's a Mess, Cuco's Polished, and MARINA Enters a New Era

It’s a no from me: Ariana Grande, “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” - All good things must come to end and unfortunate for Arianators, the warning signs have been there since “7 Rings.” Grande dropped her album thank u, next on Friday and unlike the title track, it’s not straight fire: Grande, who is white, slips in and out of a blaccent carelessly throughout; “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” is only one offender, but it’s also the one with the music video that ends in an almost-kiss between Grande and another women. Fans have begun calling her out for attempting to bait LGBT audiences with the scene, and it’s certainly objectionable. “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” is a catchy song, but everything surrounding it is a damn mess. Looks like she can’t get away with anything. —Maria Sherman


This is fine: Julia Michaels ft. Niall Horan, “What A Time” - Julia Michaels, an incredibly talented songwriter for many a pop star, has struggled to score her own hit since “Issues” blew up in 2017. On the pop-rock ballad “What A Time,” she brings in ex-One Direction acoustic guitar virtuoso Niall Horan and it is... just fine. This still isn’t the one to bring her back to the top of the charts, but it’s totally pleasant and I would not mind hearing it in an H&M dressing room. —MS

No: The Chainsmokers ft. 5 Seconds of Summer, “Who Do You Love” - Because this is hella derivative EDM-affected radio pop, I expect it will get generous radio play. I am not looking forward to it. —MS

Yes, thank you: Charly Bliss, “Capacity” - Avoiding the temptation to spend the duration of this blurb describing all the gorgeous ways New York indie pop-punkers shatter self-induced expressions of burnout culture, or insecurity, or any of the other clearly articulated coming-of-age revelations carefully placed in this 3-minute 40-second single “Capacity,” I’ll focus on the music: it’s synth-y! And joyful! Two things Charly Bliss hasn’t explicitly been in the past (don’t @ me, the first record was dark)! I’m excited for what this means for their future. Can someone remind me why they aren’t the biggest rock band in the world yet? —MS


Y: Khalid and Disclosure, “Talk” – On the cusp of 21, Khalid gives us a tease of what his third project will bring. This collab with English Grammy-nominated producers Disclosure hits all the right keys. The proud Texan is finding his footing, going from young king of the scene in American Teen, to vulnerable and slightly more experienced in Suncity, and now—an experimenting young adult. Feels fitting and I’m not opposed to him switching up the vibe every now and then but I do hope he’ll keep going down his own lane rather than succumbing to the radio-friendly pop wave everyone is on. “Can we just talk? Talk about where we’re going, before we get lost,” he sings, and I sing back to him with proud but semi-concerned mom eyes. —Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo


Si: Cuco and Dillon Francis, “Fix me” – I first heard Cuco sing at an event honoring Selena (THE Selena). Teens lost their shit when he came on. The young relatable Chicano gone famoso is an easy indie artist to love. His laid back synth-pop style pairs perfectly with drives down the beach or teenage heartbreak. This slightly more polished iteration of his usual is a good way to kick off his tour and kick off a new season of his career after a rough 2018. Nothing about this bilingual track needs fixing. —ELC


Por supuesto: Alejandro Sanz, Nicky Jam, “Back in the City” – I have a soft spot for Tio Sanz, and this song is proof that he can do no wrong. I couldn’t be happier to see him embracing his fine wine stage of life. Sanz’s raspy voice pairs well with Nicky’s modern flow. The song is a heartfelt tribute to the places we call home. Mom’s food, that’s something I can’t live without, Nicky—an unexpected yet somehow perfect choice—sings in Spanish. By the time the Celia Cruz sample comes on I’ve already added this to all my playlists and grabbed tissues. “Si no regreso a mi tierra me muero de dolor,” Cruz’s inimitable voice echoes in the background (from her classic “Por Si Acaso No Regreso”). Excuse me while I book my flight to see mi abuelita. —ELC


It’s fine, but the video is doesn’t do it for me: MARINA (formerly known as Marina and the Diamonds), “Handmade Heaven” - This song finds its stride once the first chorus hits, and while it’s nothing to call home about, it leaves me excited to see what Marina has in store for her new era. That said, this music video just wasn’t hittin’. Marina looks beautiful and cozy in a big red parka, but the visual effects remind me of someone messing around around with layer settings in Photoshop for nearly four minutes straight. —Ashley Reese

URL: Senior Writer, Jezebel. IRL: Author of the very good book 'LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands from NKOTB to BTS,' out now.

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.



Can I ask with regards to Ari: why do we (as a culture) have such a short shelf life for these girls being “sweethearts” (for lack of a better term) before we have to tear them down almost immediately after? This always seems to happen (and this site in particularly is pretty egregious about it). Britney, Taylor, Katy and (outside of music) Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence. They all had a period of being beloved and then the media turns on a dime and decides they need to be destroyed. it’s exhausting.

And for the record: I think the criticism of Ari’s use of blaccent and AAVE is fair and deserves to be critiqued. I just wish it could happen without us having to destroy her in the process. Because I guarantee that’s what’s about to happen as it has happened to all of these other girls. And I’ve been fearful that this would happen to her since Sweetener and Thank U Next blew up last year.