Photo Credit: Dennis Leupold
Bebe Rexha has always been an artist who straddles different genres and even subverts them, making her a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. And after a year filled with personal and emotional upheavals, it’s no wonder she has finally shed the past almost entirely for her eponymous third studio album Bebe, which draws mainly from pop music of the ’70s and ’80s. Despite the occasional flirtation with EDM (electronic dance music) that she’s known for, the album’s nostalgic and reflective tone owes much to the sounds of yesteryear. Rather than merely gauging interest by trying on the hats of nostalgic sounds, Rexha’s talent is on full display, and she has thrown some caution to the wind and made music that she genuinely enjoys.
Bebe’s lead single, “Heart Wants What It Wants,” is a testament to this new direction. It’s a song that is a departure from the more danceable tunes of Better Mistakes. Instead, it showcases Rexha’s raw and smoky vocals, which she expertly harnesses to make a moving ballad about a tumultuous relationship. With a more minimalist sound and less reliance on vocal manipulations, this track quickly solidifies itself as one of the album’s standout tracks. Another song that stands out is “Satellites,” a 1970s-infused love anthem featuring the iconic Snoop Dogg. It’s a surprising collaboration, but it works well thanks to the chemistry between the two artists, both of whom shine here. The result is a funky and groovy tune that will appeal to both fans of classic R&B and modern pop.
Unfortunately, however, not all the collaborations work. The collaboration with Dolly Parton on “Seasons” (which I was so anxiously excited to listen to) is one such example. Although the song itself isn’t terrible, Parton’s vocals can be distracting since they’re not as stable or good as they could be, taking away from the song’s potential. It’s a shame because the song’s lyrics are poignant and universal. Although despite the occasional missteps, Bebe delivers a lot of great pop songs tinged with ’80s synths and effects, such as “I’m Not High, I’m In Love” or “Blue Moon.” On the latter, Bebe seems to channel her inner Blondie, with its catchy chorus and new wave-inspired sound that feels both timeless and fresh.
In terms of lyrics, the album doesn’t dwell much on emotional difficulties or hardships, as compared to her previous album Better Mistakes. Here, Bebe has traded in confessional songwriting for big, hook-filled pop songs. While some might see this as a negative, it’s a testament to her versatility as an artist and her willingness to take chances and try out different things.
Bebe is a much-needed departure for Bebe Rexha. It’s a fun, playful album that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it showcases her talent in pop songwriting and production. With its nods to the pop of days gone by and a willingness to take chances, Bebe signals that Rexha does not have to sell out to be interesting. Even though it might not be her most personal album to date, it is still an enjoyable listen, and it will undoubtedly make you want to dance.
Bebe Rexha’s third studio album Bebe is an excellent addition to her already impressive repertoire. With its throwback production and pop hooks, Rexha seems to be unburdened from the past and has emerged as an artist who can truly create music that she loves while keeping her fans engaged. Despite a few rough spots, it’s a solid album that successfully blends classic pop sounds with modern sensibilities. Bebe might not be the most groundbreaking album of the year, but it’s still one of the most enjoyable listens you’ll have.
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