Destiny’s Child and Justin Timberlake are both releasing new songs this week. Is it 2002 up in here? Are we going to see Tobey Maguire’s new Spider-Man movie this Friday? Is the George W. Bush presidency just beginning to foist its horror on the nation?
And more importantly… is the new DC song any good? Let’s take a listen…
Before we get to reviewin’, here are the basics: This is the only new song on Love Songs, an upcoming compilation album that collects tunes from previous Destiny’s Child albums. “Nuclear” was co-produced by Pharrell Williams, and apparently Beyonce handled “vocal production” while Michelle Williams (a.k.a. The Third Child of Destiny) co-wrote the lyrics.
They all did a good job. The song has a relaxed, sexy groove, driven by subdued vocals and a gentle drum track. It sounds like something you might hear at an outdoor bar after sundown, when everybody’s feeling buzzed and finally starting to talk to the sexy people who intimidated them in the daylight.
Lyrically, the song is pretty clever. The central image is about two people being so close that they have literally fused together, as though they were two molecules having a nuclear reaction. “We’re just getting better,” the ladies sing, “when two become one on a quantum level.” I appreciate any pop song that references quantum physics.
The most surprising thing, though, is that “Nuclear” is not a platform for Beyonce, the way that all the DC hits were. I mean, yes, Kelly got a verse or two, and Michelle always got three lines in the bridge, but “Survivor” and “Bootylicious” and “Lose My Breath” are all basically the Beyonce show. Here, though, the focus is as much on harmonies as on lead vocals. There are no huge vocal riffs or ANYTHING.
Which is pretty cool, because it’s not like Beyonce needs the exposure. To me, it shows a lot of confidence on her part that she’s willing to just be part of the group.
I also appreciate that “Nuclear” doesn’t sound “on trend.” It’s not trying to be electro or folk or pop. It’s just out here on the patio, doing it’s own thing while the Lumineers and Maroon 5 do tricks for everyone in the kitchen.
Again, this suggests confidence. Destiny’s Child doesn’t need to sound like everything else on the radio. They’re Destiny’s Child. Y’all can get on board or not. (That’s what I liked about Beyonce’s last album, too. “Love On Top” and “Best Thing I Never Had” were throwbacks to the 70s and 80s, and “Countdown” remains a unique and brilliant beast. Those songs didn’t sound like everything else on the radio, and if that cost Beyonce some mainstream success, then at least it gained her some artistic integrity.)
Since Kelly and Michelle are performing with Lady B at the Super Bowl, I’m sure they’ll sing “Nuclear,” which means it’ll sell a lot of copies in its first week. But will it hang on and become a substantial hit? I hope so.
Mark Blankenship is STILL waiting for you to pay his automo-bills. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship