Fanxy Child is a hip-hop collective featuring members Zico, Crush, DEAN, Penomeco, Stay Tuned and Millic. To say it’s not my thing would be an understatement, but their first official single, 2016’s Bermuda Triangle, was surprisingly compelling even for those who don’t gravitate toward hip-hop. Much of its success spawned from the interplay between a diverse set of voices and styles. New single Y might have replicated this appeal if it had been released in a different era. But unfortunately, 2019 dictates an overuse of autotune, rendering much of the song’s charms flat.
Autotune is not a new device in pop music, but it has enjoyed a massive global resurgence over the past few years. Once derided as a tool to “fix” performers who couldn’t hold a tune on their own, it’s now become an affectation to paint a languid, druglike haze over an entire track. Listen to any popular American hip-hop or r&b of the moment and you’ll hear this sound immediately. It’s the perfect compliment to the lazy, shoulder-shrug melodies that tend to make up these kinds of songs. It’s almost ironic. Years ago, autotune helped artists match the power of their performance to the bombast of their music. Today, it’s the ultimate beacon of musical apathy — and I guess being apathetic is the new cool thing.
Back to Y, though. The track actually has an endearing melody and a haunting, claustrophobic atmosphere. Its chorus manages to be both evocative and too-cool-for-school. But, the obsessive use of vocal effects renders each of its performers nearly identical. Why have gifted vocalists like DEAN and Crush on the track if you’re just going to smother over the quirks that make them interesting in the first place? Too often, Y feels like a computer trying to sing r&b. In this case, I wish the guys felt the need to rage against the machine.
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