Zara Larsson and Rihanna share more than a cadence that’s catnip for radio.
Just like the Barbadian superstar circa 2006, Larsson holds immense promise, yet her international debut is at best a benign vessel for a half-dozen plastic-wrapped hits.
Last summer’s “Lush Life” is still a sticky party-starter with more choruses than sense. It’s also the best thing on So Good by far, and prefacing it with the feeble “What They Say”, a #motivational Instagram post set to music, is a telling cop-out.
A flexible singer, Larsson slings hooks like a sailor aboard everything from moody electro (MNEK duet “Never Forget You”), to schoolyard hip hop (“Ain’t My Fault”), to vogueing dance-pop (“I Would Like”). Aside from some killer singles, only “TG4M”’s dreamy tropical lilt really adds to her CV.
There’s never been a bigger gulf between title and song than on “Make That Money Girl”. That sassy name, along with the teenager’s unabashed feminism, suggests a banger for the ages, but its funereal beat is more befitting a documentary about sweatshop slavery.
Larsson has everything it takes to go A-list, but too often, So Good overlooks the spunky musicality that put her on the map. Drippy ballads like “Only You” and “One Mississippi” actively drain her charisma, and could be fronted by any Rihanna-lite ingenue.
Thank goodness then for Clean Bandit’s “Symphony” – a feel-good smash and vocal showcase that’s bought Team Larsson time to plan a crucial next move.
Grab some tissues and watch Clean Bandit’s self-directed “Symphony” clip below.