I bowed my head slightly, said a prayer to the Lord, and sprinkled holy water from the Tabernacle of Michelle Williams on my iPod before I hit ‘play’ because I knew I was going to hate this and I was seeking grace from above to find something noteworthy to say about Havana Brown‘s new EP.
First of all, I need you to know that I am quite happy to be a Havana Brown Apologiser because I love a good Australian female pop vixen. Her breakthrough smash ’We Run The Night’ was one of my favourite songs of 2011 and I still krump furiously to that dance breakdown at every chance.
However, here’s where the great chasm of doubt crosses our path. The Australian producers behind ‘We Run The Night’ and its lesser follow up ‘Get It’ – More Mega – were ditched long before When The Lights Go Out even spawned. Havana’s personal and professional relationship with her early hitmakers pretty much soured when mega pop producer RedOne got involved with her career – read: remixed ‘We Run The Night’, slapped on Pitbull, and propelled the song to global success.
RedOne himself serves as executive producer on this EP (producing three of the five tracks) and the whole project is released under a partnership between his 2101 label and Island Australia. The Moroccan producer’s Midas touch would’ve been selling point enough for any pop music surveyor to get on board When The Lights Go Out - except, guess what? The songs are rubbish.
Here we see the DJ-cum-popstar front a string of uneventful dance cuts that wash up exactly like what you’d expect from a Sophie Monk 2012 comeback. Almighty pop hooks that match the immensity of ‘We Run The Night’ – absent. Any hint of star potential and personality – absent.
RedOne‘s own contributions are perhaps the most dire of the lot – particularly the single ‘You’ll Be Mine’, which is evidently the most spectacular piece of fairground music ever written for a Hello Kitty theme park.
Richard Vission (producer behind several of Hilary Duff‘s Dignity tracks and more recently, Luciana‘s hit ‘I Like That’) hems a frenetic dubstep ballad – ‘One Way Trip’ – that would have sounded exponentially better if the productions had been more restraint.
The beastly R3hab-produced club track ‘Big Banana’ is possibly the only track I would salvage from this godforsaken project. I won’t sugar coat it. Y’all will hate it for the insipid lyrics, Havana’s knock-off Ke$ha rap, and various elements recalling everything you dislike about LMFAO - but it is by far the most infectious track here. And put it this way, if this was released by your favourite K-pop girl band like, say, 2NE1 – y’all would be crying and shaking over it, so embrace the track for what it is.
The title When The Lights Go Out may have been snatched from ‘We Run The Night’ lyrics but the smash single itself doesn’t feature on the Australian version of the EP. In fact, that’s probably what bothers me the most about this project. This sense of disconnect from what I felt was a promising start in pop for Havana Brown – one where she might emerge with a distinct and tailored club/pop hybrid sound of her own rather than something this deflated and devoid of personal style.
Listen to the international version of When The Lights Go Out – featuring the ‘We Run The Night’ remix in place of another track titled ‘Wonderland (La Da Da Da Di)’, which is on the Aussie edition:
Havana Brown‘s new single ‘You’ll Be Mine’ was serviced to Aussie radios last week and the above EP is, of course, out now.