There is a parallel universe somewhere, where the stuff described in songs like Rita Ora’s actually happens. I’m not talking about the regular, We Got Drunk On Friday Night And Where Hung Over On Saturday vibe that you can glean from your Katy Perrys or Rihannas, but rather that full-throttle, absolute madness that is a sustainable lifestyle for absolutely nobody. Ke$ha already beat Ms Ora, a particularly intriguing immigrant mix to the post when she championed ‘brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack’ on ‘Tik Tok’, a song which was co-written by a number of the same bandits who put together ‘How We Do’. But Ora, who was born in a former Yugoslavia before heading to the UK and presumably growing the legs that she now prides herself on today, has had a disifferent career trajectory. She went properly hip-hop, appearing in the video for Drake’s ‘Over’, signing to Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella label after a personal meeting with Hova and was given all kinds of special treatment, including the right ot interpolate one of the late Biggie Smalls’ most infamous chorus lyrics. So how the hell did she end up acting like such a moron on such an annoyingly addictive piece of power-pop?
Presumably, aside from looking good (really, she’s like a dead ringer for Beyonce mashed with Gwen Stefani) and being friends with Mr Hova, Rita Ora has talent. There’s no reason she would have been signed, sealed and delivered to the masses if she wasn’t, and we’re all way past that idea that artists become popular simply because they’re promoted as such. ‘How We Do’, aside from being mind-blowingly great, also happens to showcase what Ora can do. She can sing. Even though she doesn’t do a lot of the actual thing across her debut album Ora, which I have heard four-fifths of because what else was I going to do on a Tuesday night, she sure as hell belts it out of the park on this single. There’s not a moment of weakness. It’s like having eleven listed songwriters on one tune has meant that Rita has optimised the living daylights out of these four minutes and two seconds, so that every note of every verse and chorus is going to be appealing to even the most jaded cynic such as yours truly. I should point out that one of those writers is Jermaine Jackson, and another is Berry Gordy Jr, the guy who founded Motown Records. I don’t even know which particular point of re-appropriation they come in on, but that’s some heavy duty firepower already. Ora, who slinks across her opening with the kind of affectation made famous by the late Ms Winehouse (you can hear it in the way she pronounces ‘Tan-que-ray’) is obviously going in with everything she’s got. She swoops low, she aims high, and with subject matter that ranges from drinking, to binge drinking, to passing out, you’d better hope her vocal performance is going to be stellar.
Meanwhile, listen to the drums on this song. The way the bass and snare echo out at exactly the right frequency when turned up is the kind of thing that would probably cost well over a million dollars. It feels like you’re being punched in the guts, and when it’s layered with that neat little falsetto in the pre-chorus – the only bona fide Rita Ora Is An Individual Moment – it’s quite devastating. You don’t even care that she’s taking Biggie’s ‘Party & Bullshit’ and massacaring it, because that big stunner is coming up and it’s going to take on Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party In The USA’ for summer jam of the year status even though it isn’t as good. I mean, like, if some incredibly attractive girl came up to me and told me she got that ‘drunk sex feeling, yeah when I’m with you’ I’d probably believe it even though it didn’t make any logical sense. Because that’s what great pop is about, an abrogation of logic. It’s the idea that somehow a jangly acoustic guitar could actually be heard above that cacophony of bass drum hits, that any girl who has pipes this clean could actually drink as much liqour as she claims and that nobody is going to notice how they not-so-delicately auto-tuned the bit where sings’ Put your arms a-rouuund me baby’. None of this happens in the real Universe. I’m sure Rita Ora wanted to be the next Etta James, to write songs with substance and instead she’s masquerading about like some D-Grade Californian. But you know what? Sometimes the world is so dire that it just needs another village idiot. At least this one’s British.
Rita Ora – ‘How We Do (Party)’