Dawn’s verses in old Pentagon songs were always interesting and quirky. So far, his solo career has felt like an expanded version of those verses, zigging this way and that but always anchored by his colorful personality. He has a way of making the most ridiculous ideas work because you get the sense that he fully believes in them. To me, this is a sign of a great pop star. But, another sign of a great pop star is a great pop song. In this regard, Dawn’s small discography has been mixed.
For me, new single Stupid Cool falls on the lower half of that spectrum. Its teasers suggested a punchy, punky summer track. Those moments show up in fits and starts, but are ultimately undermined by less exciting ideas. I’m not a fan of the subdued tempo and languid delivery of the verses. The groove just isn’t there. Rock guitar makes for a stronger pre-chorus that begins to take the track in a more exciting direction. Sadly, we move toward a dull beat drop instead.
Stupid Cool’s centerpiece sounds like strangled brass. It reminds me of kids playing recorders for music class. In other words, it’s not a sound I would ever seek out, and I certainly don’t want it taking a central position in a pop hip-hop track. Dawn never offers a memorable counter-melody, making the arrangement feel pretty threadbare. His effortless charisma buoys the track, but it can only do so much. Stupid Cool is at its best when its instrumental embraces the punky nature of his performance.