Already a name in her native UK, Katy B sophomore album release was dubbed “sophisticated dance music with heart” by her fellow Brits, making more of us Stateside take notice. It’s easy to see why – EDM in any variety generally lacks lyrical prowess or musical surprise. Though while pure EDM may intentionally rely less on lyricism and more on MDMA-friendly beat drops, pop music’s co-opting of ‘untz’ and ‘womp’ hasn’t particularly added any word-gems worth mention, either. Katy’s depictions of stomach butterflies sometimes live up to this description, but they alternately fall almost into lazy Drake hook territory at other times – the same quality-waffling goes for the music as well. Here’s five prime examples from Little Red.
B’s album opens on a metaphor linking 24/7 partying to originality. Either way, she’s “onto the next thing, ‘til the break of dawn.” However, the track neither instills a need to dance nor feels original, and both the attempted MDMA climaxes and lyrical clunkers sound like imitation more than art (or even aural guilty pleasure): [LISTEN]
On the other hand, “Tumbling Down” follows the heavy pop jam “All My Lovin'” to signal that all hope is not lost. Here, Katy finds more ways to depict hot-and-bothered flustering, only sometimes relying on pop cliché (and let’s face it – cliché is a necessary tenet of pop in general). As she finds new lyrical tactics to describe the blushing rush she gets from her man, the synth-marimba groove also develops well in and in synch: [LISTEN]
And then there’s this little ditty. While the insomnia-inducing infatuation opens well, there’s no arguing that the chorus’ lyrics hit about as hard as the pioneers of bland Deep Blue Something. Better yet, she makes Die Antwoord‘s “I Fink You Freeky” read like Shakespeare, all the while the relentless house beat does absolutely nothing to relieve the boredom of this flat hook: [LISTEN]
Swinging back around again, Katy puts a progress-positive gender stereotype reversal here; she’ll be your shoulder to cry on and emotional knight in shining armor, sung with her signature 90’s R&B style. That said, its chorus is once again lyrically so-so while the verses entice more. Still, grading on a dance-pop curve, it’s all absolute genius: [LISTEN]
Then, perhaps to perplex even more, Katy combines both the good and bad in one defining, lukewarm single. To follow an over-arching theme in the album (and all dance music), Katy’s looking for a suitor whose love is like a drug – Benzos, this time around. Its story told here with more lyrical progression than an average house track (albeit with a couple clunkers), production passing Top-40 house, but paling to, say, Chemical Bros. All of which puts things in limbo – catchy, avoids clichés, but isn’t quite a banger: [LISTEN