Zara Larsson // So Good // 2017

Zara Larsson – So Good
Album Review

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At only 19, Zara Larsson has been through so much in her career to date. The Swedish superstar started to pave her way from the Swedish version of ‘Got Talent’ after winning the show in 2008 and releasing her own version of ‘My Heart will go on’ at 10 years old! Since then Zara has gone on to release Extended plays and 2 albums, she has also gone on to support Cher Lloyd on part of her ‘I Wish’ tour.
Here, we take a look at Zara’s debut UK album ‘So Good’ and delve into her world! So many decent pop acts have come from Sweden and we cant wait to see what Zara has to offer.
Singles from the album include:

Lush Life – Swe: #1  UK: #3  US: #75 
Never Forget You (Feat. MNEK): – Swe: #1 UK: #5 US:#13
Ain’t My Fault – Swe: #1 UK:#13 US:#76
I Would Like – Swe: #4 UK:#2 US: N/A
So Good (Feat. TY Dolla $ign) – Swe:#7 UK:#44  US: N/A
Symphony (Clean Bandit Feat. Zara Larsson) – Swe: #1 UK:#4 US: N/A




The Review – Luke and Jordan
1. What They Say 

(O.Waithe, M.Borrero, M.Landon)

This is a typical album opener, with the subtle piano and calming echos accompanying Zara’s voice, it’s not too in your face yet not boring. The effects behind the vocals (Sparkly tones and subtle disco beats) foreshadow what is to come. By the time the second verse comes in however, the song starts to outstay it’s welcome – this would definitely work better as an ‘Intro’ as opposed to a full length track. This would work as a single for the likes of Halsey or Rihanna but not Zara. The middle 8 provides a good hook and is the best part of the song by a mile. Good Adlibs. 6/10
A very modern track that contains inspiring lyrics. The song progresses from piano to a full instrumental which contains a good drop. I thought the song was going to end just over half way through – it has a calming element to it, and Zara shows off her good vocals with ehr use of melisma. I agree with Luke, when he says that theis should be an Intro as opposed to a full length track. 5/10

 

 

2. Lush Life

(E.Abrahamsson, Mack, L.Sodahl, F.Walcher, C.Bauss, I.C.Huten)

From the get go, this song is full of interesting sounds from the tribal style ‘taps’ to the hand claps. It’s an instant audience grabber. I see this as a holiday track, doing well on the club scene without being given tremendous remixes. What I love about this foot tapper is that Zara can still show off her vocal prowess without jumping on the Demi Lovato ‘Look how sensitive and troubled I am’ ballad bandwagon. The message Zara conveys is great, living her day as if it were her last. #Yolo
This song is very experimental in terms of sounds, it’s very appealing and I can’t see it getting old anytime soon. 9/10
Instantly catchy with its fun and relatable lyrics, the chorus is solid gold and the song itsself sounds like a massive hit! Excellent vocal moments throughout and it’s full of surprises with it’s use of instruments. 8/10

 

3. I Would Like

(J.Abrahart, A.Izquierdo, M.Lomax, J.Johnson, S.Johnson, O.Peterhof, Z.Larsson, K.Chin, A.Kelly)

The intro to this makes me think this song will be ‘too Bieber’ and ‘try hard’ but by the time the repetetive uptempo hooks come in, I’m won over. The track sounds very similar to ‘Lush Life’ without being a carbon copy – the themes and instrumentals are similar but lyrically and stylistically they are both fresh. This is another example of Zara showing off her killer belts whilst still bringing the party. From start to finish I’m hooked, the hook is repetetive but I don’t think it’s over kill at all, it’s just enough to keep the listener engaged, lyrically it lacks something but it’s not a massive issue.  8/10
A sexy vibe from Zara keeping in theme with the modern sounding beats. A very catchy hook with strong vocals, particularly the “Woaaaah” parts which are graspable for the listener. The song has slightly less diversity than Lush Life, but she makes up for this with better adlibs, which take the track up a notch – particularly in the last part of the song. 7.5/10

 

4. So Good (Feat. TY Dolla $ign)

(C.Puth, J.K.Hindlin, T.W.Griffin, JR, G.Lewis, D.Schofield) 

I can’t put my finger on it, but the guitar strums at the start of the song sounds so familiar, it’s like a song I’ve heard before. This will bug me.
I like that Zara sounds clear on this track, with less auto tune being heard (Obviously disregarding the “So good” parts at the beginning) This track gives off a more laid back urban theme that makes you want to body roll. It feels like an Ariana album cast off, that gives me “Hands on me” vibes. By the end I was very bored of the chorus, and the song didn’t particularly take me anywhere. For such a short song, was there a need for a feature? 5.5/10
The album’s title has a lot to live up to in my opinion, it sounds good and I like the vocal arrangement in certain parts. The chorus sounds a little cheesey, and I thing I’d prefer it if she didn’t go up in keys during the ‘So Good’ less is more. I enjoyed TY Dolla $ign’s feature as it added something different to the track. Very abrupt ending. 5.5/10

 

5. TG4M

(J.Haukaas, L.Sodahl, Mack)

We’re headed down a more mellow route now. Zara seems to have got the party girl out of her system. I feel like this song is quite relatable to a younger ‘teenage girl’ audience about not feeling good enough for a love interest and not having much confidence. The song is a mid-tempo jam that shows her vulnerable side off which is a nice change to the party girl persona we have become accustomed to. Like ‘I would Like’ this track repeats the hook a lot, which is a good device to keep you attained but in this instance it’s outstaying it’s welcome. 5.5/10
Another jam, a wonderful headbopping beat but slightly slower, I like the lyrics accompanied by the higher toned autotuned adlibbed moments. It was a short song but I think it was timed right, because it couldn’t go anywhere else musically. 5/10

 

6. Only You

(Mack, T.Jimson, M.R.Flygare, J.Berg, P.Marklund)

Confusing and cheesy lyrics to kick off the track is a bit disconcerting but they soon explain themselves. I’m not sure what Zara is trying to convey in this song, in one respect I feel empathy for her, but then again with lyrics like “Nobody’s ever touched me like I’ve touched myself” leaves me confused because she is either singing about a partner she is yet to find *Prince Charming* or she is an egocentric. The tune is good enough and a foot tapper if you ignore the lyrics. 6.5/10
A different vibe that I wouldnt expect from Zara, it’s quite average compared tot he previous tracks and doesn’t impress me that much. It’s a nice song all the same though. 4.5/10

 

7. Never Forget You – Zara Larsson & MNEK

(U.Emenike, A.Davey, Z.Larsson)

The arrangement from the start is contagious and leaves you wanting more. The gradual build actually gets me very excited to see what’s to come. When the music drops, it’s kind of a mix of dubstep and dance music with over laying adlibs. Overall I’m getting an agressive vibe from the track, whether that’s due to the style of singing or the heavy beats… I’m unsure. The middle 8 is a nice break to the heavy beats, it gives you a chance to breathe before the build and drop returns. Zara and MNEK’s voice blend very well together and this is a winning formulae for future collaborations. 8/10
The body of the song can be heard through the piano and you can hear how each instrument has made this track progress into a pop masterpiece. The lyrical content of this song on paper is a typical ballad but the current sounding instrumental with the lyrics work well to give us an updated version of a typical boring 90’s love song. The vocals are incredible from both parties. The song has a lot of building work which is broken slightly during the middle 8, this gives the track a chance to escalate and prepare us for the prolonged powerful vocals. Zara uses her best adlib chops here and it sounds great! 9/10

 

8. Sundow (Feat. WizKid)

(A.Malik, P.Shaouy, J.K.Hindlin, M.Eriksen, T.hermansen, A.I.Balogun, B.Garcia, Z.Larsson)

Summer beats with a powerful vocal moment from Zara. She has yet again managed to entice the listener with a contagious summer vibe and show off her vocal dominance in a sensual and playful manner. This is quite a unique sound, it’s reminiscent of Rihanna but it’s more experimental and really works with Zara’s style. The hook that is provided is brilliantly executed and I could see this being released as a single. The middle 8 feels like a different song has been stitched in but it’s a great device when keeping the sound fresh. 7/10
This song gives me a Rihanna vibe which is of course a good thing. I’m not sure it has single ability – WizKid doesn’t add a great deal to the track until his first verse where he dominates the track. I want to hear more from him as opposed to the chorus “Sundown” 50 times over. Lyrically the song is missing a lot. 4.5/10

 

9. Don’t Let Me Be Yours

(S.Mac, E.Sheeran, J.Mcdaid, Z.Larsson)

Looking at the writers of the song, you can hear that this song has a bit more depth to a few of the previous tracks, the lyrics really get you thinking about different perspectives which is a strong move. The track is more acoustic based and doesn’t include so much production which is a pleasant change and shows that Zara isn’t a one trick pony. 6/10
I think this song is very entertaining, the chorus instrumental is very fresh. Her voice has a nice edge to it during the verses. It’s a good album filler but it doesn’t take you anywhere special. 5/10

 

10. Make That Money Girl

(Mack, J.Hill, A.Bhattacharyya, D.Ledinsky, E.Hassle, Z.Larsson, V.Mensah)

The impression that I’m getting from this is that Zara is challenging the female powerhouses with this track “Queen” and “Slay” may not go down well with the fans of the current megastars. It’s like she is throwing her weight around, but I don’t feel she is ready to play with the big boys just yet. It makes the song feel like an empty threat.
I don’t feel her voice is suited very well to the grungy urban beat that is provided. She sounds too clean cut for the theme of the song. I find it quite grating after a while. 4/10
Sounds like a Rihanna song again with the lyrical content. I don’t think Zara should be singing such egotistical lyrics as it’s quite demeaning. Money is such a crap song theme. Not sure why there is an inspriting theme to the instrumental, when the context of the song is shallow? 3.5/10

 

11. Ain’t My Fault

(U.Emenike, Z.Larsson, Mack)

This track just oozes cool from the get go. The mix up in vocal arrangements is so fresh and enticing, it leaves you unsure of what will come next. The simple yet effective hand claps has been used to build the track to the chorus which is always a winner. I love how the song sings from a different perspective which hasn’t been done before. The middle 8 however is very jaunty and doesn’t fit the song at all which is a bit of a dampener and stops the momentum completely. It’s a powerful anthem nevertheless. 6.5/10
A very high school esque vibe with the hand clapping at the beginning. very fast verses with a slowed down chorus that speeds up and breaks down. It has a very clever structure that keeps you entertained. I can see this song being performed well live on stage, yet again – excellent strong vocals. 9/10

 

12. One Mississippi

(F.ball, J.Michaels)

We are now venturing into a Mid tempo style, and it’s clear that the album is coming to a close. Even though this track has a darker undertone, it still manages to ooze the same amount of ‘cool’ as the other tracks we have heard thus far, this is reinforced by a Bieber styled instrumental. It’s a very odd title and I feel that it’s awkward when sung in the track? It makes it hard to get to grips with. The song starts strong but it becomes slightly drab after a while. I feel that this is such an emotional song but It’s hard to take it seriously with ‘Mississippi’ in the title 3/10
This song is very middle of the road, and hasn’t got much potential in become a favorite. It is propbably a song that I would skip on the album as it seems very drab. I found myself being distracted when listening to this song which isn’t a good sign. It’s radio friendly but it wouldn’t be one for the ‘hot playlist’. 4.5/10

 

13. Funeral

(J.Gill, Z.Larsson, A.Diaz)

OK, Looking at the title of the track, this song is nothing like what I was expecting. It’s so engaging as a listener, the verses are up tempo and just as you start to really get into them, the punchy and emotional chorus comes in accompanied by the perfect blend of strong vocals, soothing violins and bassy beats and this results into something you’d expect from Clean Bandit, the outro of the song “Say our last goodbye” is coincided with fading violins which goes back to the song’s theme, it’s like a full circle of emotions – could this subliminally relate to someone’s grieving process? The ups and downs of losing someone? I just wish the verses built up to banging chorus rather than taking a step back. 8/10
A compeltley unexpected instruemntal for the tracks title. It’s quite catchy but I feel there might have been a translation error. I understand the concept of the song, but the metaphor seems too abrupt to be in a pop song like this. If it was a slow tempo where she talks about her heart going six feet under, it would put the listener into a state of depression. I liked the chorus sounds. 6.5/10

 

 

14. I Can’t Fall In Love Without You

(H.Lindvall, J.Hansson, C.Waltz)

We are finally getting a proper ballad from Miss Larsson; there is a distinct lack of production here which is a lovey change to the constant beats. It’s nice to hear a simple sound from Zara. It’s very sentiment filled and I can just picture her singing from her heart. I can see this being used as a song in a chick flick. The song starts from such a vulnerable state, to then her becoming aggressive and carefree about ex partners. The ‘Please don’t fall in love without me’ accompanied by a subtle piano key is beautiful. 7/10
A beautiful stripped back track, which ends the album on a calmer note. There are sweet lyrics which come across as convincing and emotional, which were ruined completely by the swearing and sex references. Such a shame it was spoiled and brought down to that trashy level. Without the swearing and sexual reference… this song could have been in a movie. RUINED, and the score reflects this. 6/10

 

BONUS TRACK
15. Symphony (Clean Bandit Feat. Zara Larsson)

(J.Patterson, I.Wroldsen, S.Mac, A.Malik)

The intro of this track acts as a fairy tale with it’s high piano notes and angelic vocals, the signiture Clean Bandit sounds soon come in and enhance this track a great deal. I do feel the chorus is cut short, I feel as though it grows and grows until it suddenly stops in it’s tracks and the next verse comes in. The “Symphony!” belts are so contagious and you can’t help but attempt to hit them notes. Zara was a good pick for this track as she has the ability to get up there and own the song. Clean Bandit pretty much turn anything to gold – they can do no wrong. The lyrics are a good juxtaposition to the music, they are heartfelt and quite Snow White esque but reinforced by banging beats. 7.5/10
A nice song with a catchy chorus, Clean Bandit add so much to their tracks which gives it its charm. It has a club vibe in areas but also a ‘little girls music box’ sound, which divides the song completely and makes it hard for me to categorise, which is a good thing. 7.5/10

 

Overall Scores

“A great party album with a few stand out moments following a summer vibe – but a couple of fillers” 97.5/150
“A Fantastic modern album full of club bangers with great vocals” 91/150

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