FourFiveSeconds

One of the, oh, I don’t know, five or so best songs of yesteryear (this, “Hotline Bling,” “Depreston,” “Sunday Candy,” and “Blacker the Berry”), perfectly executed in every way, fulfilling its goals without so much as a false note or wasted instrument in a mere 3 minutes and change; upon first inspection the song seems bare and weirdly open, so stripped down for composers of such lushly arranged gems as “Eleanor Rigby” or “All Of the Lights.” That is, before you notice the low flicker of the bass guitar seeping in and out of the verses, the echo of Rihanna’s voice during Kanye’s verse in the background, the way the organ quietly begins its entrance a few moments before the bridge, the frankly stunning vocal harmonies and layering during the choruses… all these little touches, breathing life into the simplest arrangement for a pop song I’ve heard in a very long time; acoustic, bass, organ, and the human voice. Marvelous! It sounds like a bunch of friends getting together in the studio to jam out and sing and dance around – so natural and organic and practically joyous. Partying, having a good time, maybe getting a little too drunk, feeling bad for yourself, but looking to the future and still seeing a lot to live for. Life-affirming stuff. And as far as the words are concerned… it’s hard to cite specific lyrics, because they all mostly speak for themselves, but “Woke up an optimist / Sun was shinin’, I’m positive” is radiant coming from Kanye, “All of my kindness / Is taken for weakness” is self-pity at its most hopeful (and therefore most artful too), and the choruses are lovely in every way: “We got three more days ’til Friday!” – she sings it to the heavens like it’s the only thing that matters, and in that moment, it is.

A+

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