Cut Through The Noise: SZA, Dove Cameron, Alicia Keys


Illustration by Isaac Wert

Alicia Mainjeni

Welcome to “Cut Through the Noise,” an entertainment column from the St. Louis Park Echo covering new music releases. Every week, a different Echo staffer takes on the role of writer, reviewing recent single releases from a variety of artists.


Fair use from Genius

SZA – ‘Shirt’  ★★★★★

SZA, a well known American hip-hop singer recently released her latest single, “Shirt.” Long before it was released, an unreleased snippet of “Shirt” went viral on TikTok. The song being officially released gives fans the freedom to dive deeper into the full song and explore the meaning behind the lyrics. This song silhouettes a rather typical feeling: being lost in an affectionate relationship. This feeling is portrayed all throughout the lyrics, bridges and catchy beat of this piece. The lyrics “Still don’t know my worth, Still stressin’ perfection,” accentuates the common theme of reliability rather than stability in relationships and how perfection is often resorted to as a standard. SZA is an artist who brings a familiar beat to her music. When you hear her voice or a familiar tune, you know it is her song. The song “Shirt” accompanies a typical beat for a SZA song. To some, this may seem redundant, to others comforting. “Shirt” left me captivated and left me in a reflective state on how to live and love in a relationship by reminding listeners through the lyrics that it should not hurt to love someone.  


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Dove Cameron – ‘Bad Idea’ ★★★☆☆

Disney star, Dove Cameron, a woman of many talents, released her newest single “Bad Idea.” Cameron’s raspy whisper throughout the piece both makes the vibe clear and hooks listeners. “Bad Idea,” is, you guessed it, a song about taking control of and confiding in bad decisions. The title and the lyrics make the meaning of this striking track clear. This single is a new take on Cameron’s stylistic choices. The sneakiness in the rhythm and surprise harmonies were exhilarating and could easily make one want to press the repeat button. That being said, I wanted more. “Bad Idea” is easy to catch onto and the creativity in the message of the song makes the piece timeless, however, a change in key or a chorus switch up would have made the piece more interesting. As a listener, I am overall satisfied with this song and hope that Cameron will incorporate a change of some sort in her next single. 


Fair use from Genius

Alicia Keys – ‘December Back 2 June’ ★★★★

Vocally, Alicia Keys always hits the mark. With her new single “December Back 2 June” from her unreleased album “Santa Baby,” we enter the holiday season with some Alicia Keys spice. Right off the bat, this song is catchy but unlike other seasonal holiday hits. With a blend of romance and Christmas, Alicia Keys gave us all an amusing holiday love story through a song. That being said, “December Back 2 June,” is a great piece and usually, I appreciate a switch up in musical approach, but this one was rather questionable. Alicia Keys is known for her love ballads surrounding common encounters in romantic relationships. The lyrics in her music often hit home but I struggled to find meaning within the lyrics of this piece in particular. It’s not to say “December Back 2 June” is a disappointment, it is rather a flashy surprise. The song has an extremely catchy beat and a pleasing bridge. Ultimately, I am satisfied with this single and can’t wait for the album.