Thursdays in Review

On Thursdays, we read reviews or news stories about art and study the language used to describe them. This week’s article from Rolling Stone describes Camila Cabello’s new solo album.

Here are the first two paragraphs from Rolling Stone:

Only 20, Camila Cabello is already a seasoned veteran of the pop-star wars. Born in Havana, raised in Miami, she blew up with the girl group Fifth Harmony, who formed on ‘The X Factor’ before scoring superb hits like “Reflection” and “Work From Home.” Although Cabello was the most high-profile member of Fifth Harmony, this group wasn’t built to last, and Cabello broke away in one of the messiest, most shade-intensive pop splits of recent years. This was not exactly a love-and-kisses farewell: When Fifth Harmony performed at the VMAs last fall, they took the stage with an anonymous fifth member, then abruptly launched her offstage before they removed their hoods to sing “Angel.”

Cabello’s long-awaited solo debut is a personal statement, low-key and mellow even when it’s infused with the rhythms of her Cuban-Mexican heritage. Her massive 2017 radio smash “Havana” is the centerpiece, as she rides a steamy piano groove with Young Thug. ‘Camila’ is sleek pop that gets straight to the point, just 10 songs around the three-minute mark, eschewing celebrity guests or big-name producers. Given the hit collabos she’s done with stars like Pitbull (“Hey Ma”), Shawn Mendes (“I Know What You Did Last Summer”) and Machine Gun Kelly (“Bad Things”), it’s a surprise is that ‘Camila’ is so stripped down, always focusing on her voice. She leaves out some of the songs she’s already dropped, like the brooding “I Have Questions” or “Crying in the Club.” She also scrapped the awesomely melodramatic original title she announced: ‘The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving.’

In the first sentence, the author calls Cabello a seasoned veteran of the pop-star wars. This is an interesting play on words, first because she is very young and the phrase a seasoned veteran is typically used for someone with a lot of experience in something. It’s also playing off of the phrase pop-star wars because she is a pop star, veterans are people who fight in wars, and Star Wars is a famous movie series. Clever.

Next, he shares her background and uses the phrase she blew up to mean she became very popular. He talks about her time with her previous band, Fifth Harmony, and says it wasn’t built to last. This is a phrase we typically use to describe the quality of a tool or product we might buy for long-term use. He describes her departure from the group as one of the messiest, most shade-intensive pop splits of recent years. To split means to leave, and shade-intensive refers to a slang expression “to throw shade” which means to show disrespect for someone publicly with indirect insults or criticisms. Then he describes an incident where the shade was thrown at theMTV Video Music Awards.

In the second paragraph, he describes her new album as a personal statement, which means she’s telling us about who she is. He talks about “Havana” as the most important song on the album, and says she rides a steamy piano groove with Young Thug. This means the piano rhythm has a sexy sound, and she’s singing along with another artist called Young Thug.

He describes the album as getting straight to the point, which means there are no distractions, because there are not too many songs, they aren’t too long, and she doesn’t use other big names to promote the songs. The author thinks this is a surprise since she has done collaborations (collabos) with big stars in the past. He refers to the album as stripped down, which means it doesn’t have a lot of extras. He also talks about some of her previously released (dropped) songs that aren’t on the album. Finally, he mentions that she also scrapped, or threw away, the very long title she originally chose for the album.

I’ve chosen 5 words or phrases for you to focus on today. They are in bold. If you don’t know them, look up the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and other forms of these words. You can find links to Merriam-Webster dictionary sites at the bottom of this page.

What do you think of this review? Which phrases do you like best? Do you have questions about the vocabulary? Do you want to suggest a review for me to discuss next week? Leave a comment below!

To read the original article, written by Rob Sheffield on January 12, 2018, click the link below:
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/review-camila-cabellos-camila-w515387

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Jessica

I help artists and designers with their English so they can focus on being creative and changing the world.

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