Reviews by mars
The best of New Music Friday’s releases featuring Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, and more Justin Bieber.
Just three months into the new year, and it is already clear that pop music continues to see a resurgence on both the charts and in daily culture. With the complete domination of Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license,” The Weeknd’s continued success with his After Hours era, and hot off a pop-dominated Grammy Awards, the days where pop music was deemed dead seem to be a thing of the past (thankfully). Today’s New Music Friday releases include three former teen music superstars each navigating new creative territory. For one, today’s NMF release marks the beginning of a new chapter of vulnerability whereas the other two are continuing forward with their most recent reinventions, which is why Taylor Swift’s “You All Over Me,” Demi Lovato’s “Dancing with the Devil,” and Justin Bieber’s Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe) are Mars’ Picks of the Week.
“You All Over Me (feat. Maren Morris) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” - Taylor Swift
“Lost tears, swore that I'd get out of here / But no amount of freedom gets you clean / I still got you all over me”
-Taylor Swift, "You All Over Me" (2021)
What makes “You All Over Me” so enchanting is that it was crafted by then-teenage Swift, now sung by mature “Adult Taylor” who has experienced greater loves lost in the years since this song originally came to life. Its message has aged like a bottle of fine wine, and the marriage of Swift and Morris’ vocals float above Dessner’s production. Additionally, Morris’ inclusion on the single leaves fans with more speculation than ever as to who may or may not be featured on the remaining vault tracks across both Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and the remainder of her rerecorded discography.
For diehard fans, an early version of the track has lived online for years, but the full version of the single is surely a gift worth waiting for. Is "You All Over Me" the strongest bonus track Swift has ever written? No as the brilliance of evermore’s “right where you left me” still lingers in the shadows. But it is incredibly impressive - and a clear reminder - that Swift was and continues to be a songwriting force to be reckon with. Ultimately, “You All Over Me” is a much-welcomed, elegantly-written reminder of Swift’s origins and continues to build even more excitement for the full rerecorded album’s release in two weeks.
“Dancing with the Devil” - Demi Lovato
“Dancing with the Devil” is the lead single to Demi’s seventh studio album, Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over, and marks the official start to her new era. Following a lineup of singles, including “Anyone” (which serves as the opening track on Dancing), “I Love Me,” and “Still Have Me,” Lovato is ready to share the story of her relapse with the world on the new track.
“Dancing” is a powerful, haunting performance featuring Demi’s incredibly raw and vulnerable songwriting - immediately noted as one of her most honest releases to date. “I was dancing with the devil / Out of control / Almost made it to heaven / It was closer than you know,” Lovato sings following mentions of red wine pours and hard drug encounters. Her vocals dynamically soar on the song’s final chorus and continue into its outro, a truly moving moment considering how the singer-songwriter almost lost her life to these very demons she now openly shares with the world.
Demi’s combination of her immaculate vocal range and lyrical honesty have always separated her from her pop colleagues, and “Dancing with the Devil” is a remarkably moving sneak peek into where the remainder of the album (partially) of the same name will lead listeners, dropping one week from today.
Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe) - Justin Bieber
“Know No Better” is a clear callback to “R&Bieber” and his Changes era, which Bieber does not seem to be leaving fully behind on an outwardly pop album. And DaBaby’s feature, while a nice union of two talents, is not as shiny or entrancing as his verse of Dua Lipa’s smash hit “Levitating.”
The standard edition of Justice has received mostly critical acclaim - including a shiny 8/10 rating from Reviews by Mars - and is a worthy follow-up to 2015’s EDM-filled Purpose. Even so, it’s clear why these six tracks were left off the album’s original tracklisting. None shine as bright as the potential #1 smash “Peaches,” and none are as infectious as the ‘80s-inspired “Die for You.” The new bonus tracks are a nice addition to an already-complete body of work, but the album’s strongest moments still appear in the album’s standard tracklisting.
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NY-based, 26-year-old, music-obsessed and loves to write about it.