Cut Through The Noise Music Review: Harry Styles, Camila Cabello and Hayley Kiyoko


Emma Leff

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.

Harry Styles — ‘Lights Up’ ★★★★★

Fair Use from Columbia Records

After an almost two-year hiatus, Harry Styles’ latest single “Lights Up” further separates him from his One Direction image. “Lights Up” is the first song released from Styles’ highly anticipated second studio album. Based on this song alone, it’s clear Styles has continued to develop his personal sound since his self-titled 2017 debut album. Throughout the song, there are several transitions in the instrumental that could easily create divisions in the sound, but they flow seamlessly. Styles’ beautifully calming vocals paired with the occasional chorus backing and strums of the guitar create a trance-like harmony. His voice is emphasized when the lively instrumental strips down into simpler notes, which adds interest to an already complex song. “Lights Up” is labeled as a pop song, but it is clearly unlike any Top 40 hit I’ve ever heard. If you are looking for an exciting, yet soothing new song to listen to, I would highly recommend “Lights Up.”

Camila Cabello — ‘Easy’ ★★★★☆

Fair Use from Epic Records

With the release of her single “Easy,” Camila Cabello has unveiled four songs from her upcoming album “Romance.” Although “Easy” is not a breakthrough in the pop genre by any means, it does signify an expansion in Cabello’s musical range. Unlike “Havana” and the three other singles she has released from her new album, “Easy” lacks Cabello’s signature upbeat style. The song opens with Cabello talking as the beat slowly builds in the background as she transitions into singing. The well-delivered lyrics evoke powerful images of self-love. Despite the low-key tone of the single, her strong vocals are on display. However, echoes of certain lyrics throughout the song make her sound almost autotuned. This relaxed love song will surely be played on the radio nonstop. Although Cabello’s music can often become repetitive, this single makes it easy to appreciate her artistic capabilities.

Hayley Kiyoko — ‘Demons’ ★★☆☆☆

Fair Use from Atlantic Records

Hayley Kiyoko’s most recent single, “Demons,” creates nothing but low expectations for her second studio album. Although the message of the song — which centers around mental health — is important, the execution isn’t there. The lyrics were relatively creative, but the Halloween-esque instrumental and heavy percussion drown out Kiyoko’s unique voice into something barely recognizable. Any demonstration of a diverse vocal range was practically nonexistent. “Demons” is so instrumentally dominated that I had to look up certain lyrics to understand what she was saying. The chorus was neither catchy nor original. The limited number of different verses meant the chorus and pre-chorus unfortunately made up most of the song. The lyrics and the beat show an intentional, yet failed attempt to create a spooky tone. “Demons” sounds like a song you listen to once on Halloween, and then forget you have ever heard it.