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Want To Want Me

by Jason Derulo

Despite its commendably powerful–sounding samples and generally slick production values, I can’t help feeling that this song’s groove is a bit stuck in the mud. In a live musical performance, musicians will naturally stress certain rhythmic subdivisions more than others, often giving downbeats more oomph than upbeats, for example. The particular patterns of rhythmic stress vary according to the musical style and the sensibilities of the performer of course, but what humans never do is play every subdivision exactly the same — that’s one of the hallmarks of expressionless machine–generated music, and generally the enemy of groove. And it’s what I’m hearing too much of here. There are some parts I’d directly point the finger at: the mechanical off–beat 16th notes of the bass; the monotonous hi–hat that arrives at 0:19; the clunky drum fill first heard at 0:30; and the rhythmic background pad pulsing away determinedly on 16ths during the choruses. But it’s not just that, because I generally just get the sense that the 16th–note subdivisions are being overemphasised in the balance overall, which is something that almost invariably cause any groove to drag, in my experience. I’m not saying there’s no place for some robotic–sounding elements in chart music, because they do have a certain appeal, but I do think they needn’t bog down the groove as much as this.