Cut Through the Noise: Joshua Bassett, Maya Hawke, Zoe Ko


Illustration by Isaac Wert

Anya Panday

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.

Joshua Bassett — ‘Sad Songs in a Hotel Room’ ★★★☆☆

Fair use from Genius

Joshua Bassett is a well-known American actor, but he spends his free time diving into other art forms — most notably, music. His new EP, “Sad Songs in a Hotel Room,” features many unique songs, but the title song takes the cake. “Sad Songs in a Hotel Room” is exactly what it sounds like, a sad song. On the surface, Bassett’s new single reads like any other breakup pop song: two people fall in love, and then one leaves and the other person is sad. However, Bassett does an exceptional job of branching out from the typical pop song. Within “Sad Songs in a Hotel Room,” Bassett does an excellent job of exploring new stylistic choices in a way that suits both the music and his voice. He experiments with a more “indie” backing track, a pleasant change from the rest of his discography that pairs well with how he chooses to layer his vocals. He uses basic but unexpected note and rhythm variations in his chorus to keep his listener engaged. It beautifully emphasizes his clever lyrics without being too distracting. In the end, he gives listeners a few seconds of more raw vocals that aren’t overly layered, which is beautiful. However, it left me wishing he had utilized the beauty of those almost unprocessed vocals more, as well as branching out into more experimentational choices. Overall, Basset still does a great job of creating a song that is both trendy and experimental.

Maya Hawke — ‘Backup Plan’ ★★★★★

Fair use from Genius

Maya Hawke, another actor turned singer, recently released her latest album, “MOSS.” Within this album is the simple yet truthful song “Backup Plan.” The song follows the familiar feeling of wanting someone so bad that you’re willing to be a second choice. Hawke is a talented artist with a naturally gifted voice which she truly let shine here. Though her production and vocal choices are simplistic, they are certainly not lazy. Through her more minimalist production choices, Hawke allows the listener to comprehend the brilliant lyricism of the song. The song is rich with metaphors, never directly telling the listener what Hawke means but instead leading the listener through a complex journey of feelings to reach the song’s meaning. The song may not be groundbreaking or flashy, but it doesn’t need to be. “Backup Plan” is a beautiful piece about how much it can hurt to be in love.The alluring vocal talent and simple backing track, paired with the calculated lyrics, create a song that can only be described as the feeling of longing. “Backup Plan” gets five stars in the sense that it does its job perfectly. It makes the listener feel the longing that Hawke sings of.

Zoe Ko — ‘Lovesick in Public’ ★★☆☆☆

Fair use from Genius

Zoe Ko, a TikTok songwriter, has been teasing her new single “Lovesick in Public” for a good time now. Highly anticipated by her followers, Ko would only promote her new single with the chorus and once released, it quickly became apparent why she chose to do so. “Lovesick in Public” shows potential with a catchy chorus and well-developed bridge. The new single is almost reminiscent of the highly acclaimed actor and singer Olivia Rodrigo. However, “Lovesick in Public” falls flat in many ways. It feels as if Ko had a brilliant idea for the chorus of a song and, unable to let that idea go, chose to fumble together a messy song that feels like a tangled yarn ball full of wasted potential. While the chorus is very well thought out and catchy, everything in-between feels like a passive attempt to string together some quick lines to keep the song going. “Lovesick in Public” does not feel like an intentional, cared-for song, but instead a mish-mash of multiple different half-baked ideas Ko decided to throw together. The chorus is beautiful, catchy and trendy. However, the song is screaming for delayed release, and after a few more months of brainstorming, re-writing and producing, the rest of the song could live up to the expectations of the highly-promoted chorus.