Look: This is a pop music site, and we don’t believe in “guilty pleasures” here — there’s no shame in enjoying a good pop tune, no matter how soulless, cynical or embarrassing it might be. But if ever there was a song that pushed us to the breaking point of that value, if ever a song felt too bad to enjoy, it would have to be The Wanted‘s just-premiered new single “Walks Like Rihanna,” a slickly produced pop stormer with some risibly dumb lyrics and a chorus that’s properly irresistible.
Even if the production feels a little too wistful for how goofy the song’s message is, the Dr. Luke-produced track pushes all the right buttons, in a paint-by-numbers kind of way: Aerobic percussion gives the song a nice sense of propulsion while the Ibiza rave-lite beats of “Glad You Came” get traded for plunky guitars. It’s a classic, summery pop song with an instantaneously catchy hook.
But those lyrics! Those lyrics harken back to the senseless inanity of mediocre turn-of-the-millennium boy band album tracks, like a lost gem from an O-Town or BBMak album. “She’s the freakiest thing / You gotta meet her” is bad; “She’ll be the girl of your dreams / If you can close your eyes” is worse; that mind-numbingly awful chorus is most impressive at all, and then it has the audacity to lead into an ingenious “Our hearts go boom-boom” bridge that’s one of the most stupidly great pop moments of the year.
In short: “Walks Like Rihanna” is the very best, and the absolute worst, and while we maintain that “She Has Hands That Are Small She Knows But They’re Not Yours They Are Her Own Like Jewel” would have been a better title, this’ll certainly do.
The Wanted — “Walks Like Rihanna” (Radio Rip)
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