Music

Big Sean - "Halfway Off the Balcony" (Singles Going Steady)

Big Sean's latest is an anxious stream-of-consciousness narrative, his verse flowing over discordant and menacing piano with a horror movie vibe.

Andrew Paschal: Big Sean's latest is an anxious stream-of-consciousness narrative, his verse flowing over discordant and menacing piano with a horror movie vibe. He certainly achieves the mood he sets out for and pulls the listener into his own discomfort. Lines like, "I realized when it comes to girls / That chemistry means way more than anatomy" do not exactly make for the most profound revelations, however, making the track feel somewhat juvenile despite itself. Still, Big Sean's emphasis on mood and atmosphere here make for an interesting and unusual listen. [7/10]

Brian Duricy: So, the positives: Big Sean, untrue to form, only gets in one blundered line ("I'm the livin' proof that you don't need a master's just to be a masterpiece") over brooding, almost choral production that just begs to be compared to Views. Plus, the video is quite pretty with its usage of every light color save for a natural white, and the backing "Ba, ba, ba, ba"s add a nice textural element to an otherwise smooth track. But really, the issue here is that, like virtually all Big Sean solo tracks, it's just not a song that begs to be played a second time. He's too big a rapper not to resonate in the public consciousness one way or another, though this song does little to support the claim that you need to listen actively to hear Big Sean. [4/10]

Steve Horowitz: Big Sean takes command here, but of what is uncertain. He loves his girl, but she won't talk to him, and he won't talk to his mama, and his work is more than a salary. There's a lot crammed in, and Sean repeats himself repeats himself to make sure you understand what you don't understand. It's kind of cool and meta because he's got a flow to be sure. The video captures his charisma and puts fuzzy edges on the story. [8/10]

Chris Pittaway: Big Sean delivers deadpan stream-of-consciousness bars over a dreary, uninspired beat. That's not to say nothing is redeeming here; in two spots Sean switches up his flow and injects the song with some much-needed variation, and occasionally drops a thought-provoking well crafted line. But on the whole, his lyrics aren't anything to get excited about. Lukewarm. [4/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Big Sean goes nonstop on “Halfway of the Balcony”, a personal reflection on life's complications. Life may be full of ups and downs, but Big Sean hits high notes from start to finish, and this single is a solid pop hit with clever lyrics and simple beats. There's not much more to say; everything here is golden. [7/10]

Mike Schiller: The big takeaway from this one is that Big Sean and producer/keyboardist Amaire Johnson found a good use for vocal pitch-shifting, which almost never works the way artists seem to hope it will. Sean spends most of this track looking back, looking forward, recognizing his success and being introspective about what that means for himself and his relationships. When the pitch on his vocals drops, though, the brag rap shows up, the artificial depth of his voice augmenting the artificial persona that brings no small part of that success, and the juxtaposition of those 30 seconds with the rest of the song makes for an effective and powerful verse. Everything else is quiet and downcast, and frankly rather forgettable in a vaguely unsettling way. It's fine, but it feels like it could have been so much more. [5/10]

Chris Ingalls: The production is what makes it. Big, cavernous grand piano makes for a great anchor while the beats swirl all around. Big Sean spits out rhymes with confidence despite the fact that the music has mournful undertones. There's a lot of layers here, and it makes for a pretty bold musical statement. [7/10]

SCORE: 6.00

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