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