Beck - "Wow" (Singles Going Steady)

Opinions are sharply divided on this new Beck track.

Andrew Paschal: This song is so fun, infectious, and inventive. It adopts a hip-hop flair with a playful, tongue-in-check attitude, but its self-awareness and sense of humor never lapse into irony or parody. It's unpredictable without being chaotic or messy; instead of over-relying on the catchy chorus and phoning in some passable verses, Beck finds new ways to surprise and delight throughout, with each verse stylistically distinct from the last. As a result, "Wow" has an almost Grimesean openness to possibility -- Beck didn't have to toss in some rhythmic piano three minutes in, for example, but he did and it worked out great. I didn't expect Beck to be making a Song of the Summer on album #13, but I'm thrilled to hear he has some Odelay left in him yet. [9/10]

Evan Sawdey: Dripped in heavy-dipped ironic-cool, this oddball of a loose single is Beck trying to sound contemporary but with his own boot-cut twist, the layout of a disco saloon unfurling before us. It's a fine melody, the mood and tone drastically unlike anything Beck Hansen has done in the past decade. However, despite the immense appeal of the video kicking the surrealistic song elements up a notch, there's still not much to hang on to, this brightly-colored melody proving to be more silly string than steel, memorable as an experience but barely something you'd even care to take home with you. [5/10]

Chris Ingalls: I rarely dislike Beck -- even on his worst days, there's a consist combination of creativity and popular appeal to almost everything he does. That being said, "Wow" isn't a bad track, but it's nothing spectacular. Fun and funky but also a bit generic and doesn't really go anywhere. Perhaps it serves as a sort of placeholder while he continues working on the follow-up to Morning Phase. [6/10]

Michael Pementel: Typically Beck delivers on all fronts with fun instrumentals and vocals, but with "Wow"... I can't find much to say wow too. Instrumental came out of left field with how much it bumps, coming off as the most farthest thing I've heard from a Beck song. Vocally it picks up towards the end since it takes a while for him to be introduced in the track. Between the trunk bumping bass, vibrant pop, and Beck's vocal style, the track feels as if it is trying to find an identity. [3/10]

Steve Horowitz: This beats “Have Gun, Will Travel” as Paladin’s got nothing on Beck. Beck just builds a groove and adds the syrup until the sugar high turns into something transcendental. “Wow” indeed. The cut deserves repeated listening until satori ensues. If that doesn’t work, watch the trippy video. It’s a lot of fun and wiser than it seems. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: After an album full of acoustic introspection, it's nice to hear Beck get back to catchier stuff, but "Wow" comes off a little more mindless than usual. Half a dozen different visual themes and words put together for the sake of rhyme and rhythm all joined together by scenes of Beck looking a little like someone's Williamsburg landlord set a scene that can most aptly be described as a hipster mess. Only an artist of Beck's clout could get away with such a jumbled lack of substance over such cheap, hollow beats. There's no denying it's catchy, though, and it's fun for a couple of listens, which means it's sure to be your local indie rock station's go-to staple for far longer. [5/10]

Scott Zuppardo: Beck is still getting it done in the weirdest fashion possible. This ditty leaning toward a mash up of futuristic hip-hop and video game top boss music. For one reason or another if it's Beck it'll garner cool points from the critics and common listener alike. There's a western flit to the whole thing or maybe that's just Beck's get up while he's rapping in the median of a major highway. Semi-cool, semi-obnoxious may be the best description. [5/10]

Paul Carr: The '90s are well-known for the eruption of new and disparate genres that defined the decade. From Britpop to industrial, grunge to trip hop, the '90s were a smorgasbord of musical delights. However, there is one genre that often gets forgotten... the unexpected rise of pan pipes. During the mid-'90s you couldn't move for pan pipe reinterpretations of '70s and '80s classics and who can forget the omnipotence of pan pipe moods. It really was a dark time for music. Therefore building a song around a pan pipe sample is risky. Initially, I must admit I did have to fight the urge to throw my iPod into a well when this song came on. Nonetheless, after a few listens this is a surprisingly euphoric throw away number by Beck at his most playful. The lyrics are joyously nonsensical and any song that includes the couplets "lamborghini shitsu" and "luminous mouse" is alright by me. Amazingly, this is the first pan pipe song I don’t hate. [8/10]

SCORE: 6.25

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.