Album Review: Karmin – Hello

Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan are the latest examples of Youtube sensations turned pop stars. The duo, known as Karmin, infamously covered Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” and Amy’s adept take on Busta Rhymes’s lightning fast verse netted the duo sixty-five million views, a spot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and a major label deal with LA Reid-helmed Epic Records. Fast forward a year and they’ve released their seven song EP, Hello, which heavily features Amy’s rapping skills to mixed results. Hello is far too forgettable for a duo without a large, devoted fanbase.

The problem with the album is that it heavily relies on Amy’s rapping skills, which can be technically impressive, but too often come across as a gimmick. The first track, “Walking On The Moon”, has two verses of Amy’s rapping and neither are convincing. She struggles when she doesn’t have a rapid-fire cadence to cover up how forced her hardness sounds. At least the song’s lilting chorus sounds authentic.

The best track is easily the lead single, “Brokenhearted”. Unlike the other tracks, “Brokenhearted” lets Amy show off her great singing voice with melodic verses and a insanely catchy hook. Her rapping is used sparsely and effectively; it adds some fun flourishes to an already infectious jam. With the relative success of this song, it’s surprising that the duo didn’t tack on more songs in this vein.

Heidemann is often compared to Nicki Minaj, and while I typically disagree, “I Told You So” comes across as a poor Nicki impression, entirely nonsensical lyrics included. While the duo usually sounds great in harmony, Nick’s voice drags down an already lifeless chorus. On the bright side, at least Amy gets to show off her superhuman rapping speed here. And if “I Told You So” was an attempt to mimic Minaj, “Too Many Fish” is an equally poor attempt to mimic Beyonce. No one can bring the same fire to a Single Ladies-esque jam that Beyonce can, and as such, Amy comes across outmatched on the song.

The EP picks back up at the end, though. “I’m Just Sayin'” sees Amy rapping in her sweet spot. She’s convincing, impressive and sounds like no one but herself. The song is constantly moving forward, wrapping the listener up with it. Nick finally gets a chance to shine on the surprisingly mellow “Coming Up Strong”. He’s nowhere near the vocalist Amy is, but his voice is refreshing and well-fit for the soft crests and dips of the melody. Surrounded by a sea of faceless club tracks, “Coming Up Strong” establishes a memorable personality.

Finally, the title track “Hello” serves as an accurate representation of the album. It has moments of undeniable catchiness, but ultimately lacks an identity. Amy’s rapping toes the line between impressive and annoying, unique and gimmicky, authentic and forced. The duo is clearly skilled and the material is modern, but far too often ends up being unmemorable. With a seven track EP, every song needs to be indispensable, and that’s simply not the case.

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