Cut Through the Noise: Ed Sheeran, Justin Beiber, Raveena, Mary J Blige (Week of May 17)


Illustration by Isaac Wert

Ruby Stillman

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 as writer, reviewing recent single releases from a variety of artists.


Fair use from Atlantic Records

“I Don’t Care” – Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber ★★☆☆☆

The lackluster pop collab “I Don’t Care” is Ed Sheeran’s first new song in two years, and unfortunately, it’s nothing special. The single touches on Sheeran’s indifference towards public opinion and appreciation for his significant other who helps him through tough times. Pop star Justin Bieber is also featured on the track. Because both Sheeran and Bieber are known for putting out brilliant music, such as when they co-wrote “Love Yourself” for Bieber’s 2015 album “Purpose,” I expected more musicality and originality. Alas, I was disappointed by the single. “I Don’t Care” holds a strange middle ground of being not too slow or too fast to display a mood, leaving a dull result. However, Sheeran and Bieber’s vocals together gave the song a catchy chorus that grew on me. Definitely not a summer anthem, but not a song to dismiss. “I Don’t Care” are the words one should say to this lousy pop song, but due to the sheer star power between the duo, this song won’t be going away any time soon.


Fair use from Manorama Music

“Mama” – Raveena ★★★★☆

“Mama” is a beautiful ode to Raveena’s mother released just before Mother’s Day. Raveena dedicated the warm ballad to her mother by reflecting on her mother’s life, memories she has with her, and by expressing her appreciation for her. The song itself is smooth with jazz and acoustic influences, yet still manages to be soulful and genuine. Raveena’s sweet and pure vocals add sincere meaning to the already soothing lyrics. “Mama” is so easy to listen to, sometimes I forget I’m listening — it blends into any situation seamlessly. This is the first song of Raveena’s I’ve heard and I can’t wait to support a female artist representing women of color and hear what other charming work she has created.


Fair use from Universal Music Group

“Thriving” – Mary J. Blige ft. Nas ★★★☆☆

This go-getter single instantly gave me the urge to move when I first heard its strong beat and bold lyrics. Bad girl energy emanates throughout “Thriving” by Mary J. Blige featuring Nas. The empowering track focuses on the duo’s accomplishments and goals while sustaining a beat that carries the lyrics and subdued melody. Nas’ rap verse is good, but not great. It is missing some lyrical authenticity. A lack of nuance within the track prevented it from “Thriving” to its potential. The addition of a strong harmony could have served the track well. Despite this, I would definitely add “Thriving” to a workout playlist. Its pump up power is undeniable. Mary J. Blige and Nas are going on tour together this summer for the 25th anniversary of their first albums, and this song sets the tone for their likely “Thriving” success.