To say that 2016 was an underwhelming year for pop music would be quite the understatement. More importantly, it was a year pretty light in great pop singles. In our humble opinion, “Go Robot” by Red Hot Chili Peppers was the first really great single of 2016 and that did not see the light of day until September. Fortunately, after the general disappointment of 2016 amplified by the demise of music gods such as David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael, 2017 seems to have a glimmer of hope in the form of Canadian pop starlet Ralph (aka Raffa Weyman).
Critics are quick to dismiss music from the 80s as being cheesy, manufactured, over-produced, and highly disposable. We find that criticism somewhat misplaced because the music from that decade has survived and continues to maneuver its way into various facets of contemporary pop culture through its inherent timelessness. Some might attribute it to nostalgia but as British pop icon Boy George once said in an interview with us, “Nostalgia has a limited shelf life”. What is even more noteworthy is that the sound of the 80s has inspired a wave of newer acts such as St Lucia, Haim, Chromeo, Roisin Murphy, Tegan and Sara, Great Good Fine OK, and Holy Ghost. Many of these acts consider themselves to fall within the synth-pop genre – a genre that most people associate almost exclusively with the 80s. What critics seem to miss altogether is that acts from the 80s had a very strong grasp of melody. The bar for what constituted a great melody also appeared to be significantly higher in that decade. It did not matter whether the genre was Hair metal, New jack swing, or New wave. The common thread of musical merit that strung all these seemingly dissimilar genres together was the concept of an intricate melody. This is something Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliot articulated quite well in a television interview around ten years ago. Many new acts are able to successfully emulate the production elements of 80s synthpop but their ability to capture the magic that came with a melody from the 80s is somewhat limited. Canadian newcomer Ralph just might have figured out the formula to replicate both elements while being completely original.
Ralph’s new single “Tease” opens with a repeating synth-driven instrumental melody that also serves as the sonic backdrop for the song’s lyrically sparse chorus. Lush harmonies are overlayed on the second repetition of the melody before the song breaks into its uptempo rhythm with a pulsating beat. Thematically, on “Tease”, Ralph sings to the local lothario that thinks he has his art of seduction down to a science and has lured multiple women with the identical formula. She lets him know that his deception has been exposed via the following lines:
I’ll confess your sweet talk had me weak in the knees
But my friend got the same text, cut and copied
Cause you’re writing love notes to every girl on the block
Baby, you should know us girls we talk
Secrets out, baby please
Ralph goes one step further by suggesting that his behavior might be a mechanism to compensate for his lack of success with women in high school.
The song’s most sublime moment almost feels like a substitution of a typical pop song’s middle 8 with a third verse (sung over light synth percussion) in which Ralph’s witty wordplay hits its pinnacle (“When you first moved to town you had has wrapped around, You’re finger like the ring you’re hiding now”)
The shimmering bliss of “Tease” is what every modern pop song should aspire to. It is incredibly refreshing to see a new musician hold herself to the same standards as those of the decade she draws more than a fair share of inspiration from (judging by her choice of sonic elements that she has successfully deployed on her music). I suppose she has to given that she considers herself to be the hypothetical musical lovechild of Sade, Stevie Nicks, and Donna Summer. Judging by other gems such as “Something more” and “Cold to the touch” from her debut EP, she just might be living up to the responsibility that one would attach to the said lovechild.
“Tease” is hands down 2017’s first great pop single and we’re thrilled that it emerged as early in the year as it did. We can barely wait to see how the year unfolds for Ralph. Our outlook on her prospects brims with optimism.
Here is the full-length video for “Tease”:
STAR RATING: 5 out of 5 STARS
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We are an American internet radio station that broadcasts worldwide. The station features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. Currently, “Something More” and “Tease” by Ralph are getting 5 plays each per day on our station.
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