Cut Through The Noise: Aimée, Quinn XCII, Alicia Keys


Illustration by Isaac Wert

Samantha Klepfer

‘Don’t Call Me Pretty’ by Aimée ★☆☆☆☆

“Don’t Call Me Pretty” opens with a strong, though derivative sequence of synth chords and an interesting use of syncopation, giving off “Daft Punk” vibes throughout. The song is not well-produced, as there are a number of times where Aimée cuts herself off while she’s singing. The pre-chorus is interesting and has a distinct Ariana Grande feel to it with the extremely high vocals leading into a much lower chorus. The rhythm and melody are uninteresting and fade into the neverending slew of songs with a dance beat. The beat during the chorus is very derivative, however, despite its lack of originality, it is very catchy. Even the bridge, though it seems promising with a slightly more interesting melody and a change up from the synth to the piano, is extremely boring with bland, uninspired lyrics, and way too much repetition for a song that already didn’t have a lot of new aspects going for it. Though the first verse has a few decent lines, the rest of the song seems as though who thought up the first three lyrics and then decided who would depend on only those bits to carry the rest of the song. The track feels like a cheap attempt to copy the same old dance track with a feminist messge — the entire song feels unoriginal and is a continuous reminder of better songs that I’d rather be listening to, even Aimée’s riffs are imitations.

‘Two 10s’ by Quinn XCII ★★☆☆☆

Quinn XCII’s latest track, “Two 10s” is a disappointment of a song. Starting out with a great bass line, the simple beginning and verse draw the listener in. The lyrics are acceptable and the beat employs an entertaining amount of syncopation. However, the chorus is boring and underwhelming, overall too simple and relaxed. Going from good to bland, the first verse starts out strong and everything goes downhill from there. The track completely lacks any sort of climax or direction, and the plain format also prevents Quinn XCII from really showing anything impressive vocally. For a song that’s entirely about asking to borrow money, the lyrics aren’t bad, though the lack of a compelling subject definitely isn’t doing the song any favors. The use of gang vocals is shockingly boring and lacks excitement, matching with the rest of the song, indicating Quinn XCII may want to start looking for a new producer. The bridge is outrageously boring and overall not terribly relatable or exciting and though there are aspects of the melody that show promise, they are buried by the mediocrity surrounding them. “Two 10s” may have been a good idea in theory, but in practice the track feels thin and unenthusiastic, and is in desperate need of a bass drop.

‘Underdog’ by Alicia Keys ⅘ stars ★★★★☆

Alicia Keys’ latest track starts out with a funk opening guitar riff, where the guitar functions as a percussion instrument, blending with the background vocals. The verses and chorus have a compelling, dynamic melody and the lyrics are well-written. The track is different from the usual underdog song in that it has a more upbeat, bouncy feel as opposed to the typical motivational ballad with this kind of message. The song shows an interesting range of perspectives in a fun departure from Keys’ usual R&B ballad style. “Underdog” also differentiates itself slightly from other similar tracks in that it deals with slightly more difficult, nuanced topics that your average underdog song. The strong rhythm blends well with the lyrics and melody, however the song falls into the trap of cliches, overusing already overused phrases — a common, though still disappointing, mistake for motivational music. The song is a good addition to Keys’ repertoire but, even though it’s formatted with a section at the end where Keys could riff over the top of the music, the song doesn’t quite do her incredible voice justice. Though there are cliche or derivative elements, the style and beat of this song help it stand out amongst the many similar songs in its genre.