BSBB Round 1: Chris Brown, "Loyal" vs. Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea, "Problem"

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Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules





MAURA JOHNSTON: One of my least favorite trends of 2014 was the increasingly rancorous nature of the seemingly never-ending battle between men and women, and "Loyal," which matched a featherlight beat with some horrible characterizations of not just those ladies who crossed Brown and his Young Money affiliates, but all of humanity, sounded tailor-made for soundtracking unsatisfying hookups that would result in navel-gazing personal essays. "Problem," meanwhile, jigsawed together Grande's coos and sighs with a skronky sax and a chorus recalling the "Loyal" of 10 years ago—Ying Yang Twins' "Wait (The Whisper Song)." Wait'll you see my shifting cultural attitudes toward romance?

My Vote: “Problem”
WILLIAM GRUGER: If you were to ask me in 2013 whether or not I wanted to bet on Iggy Azalea becoming as famous as she is, I would have told you to take a hike. Boy, was I wrong. This matchup is hard because the song I like the most is the song whose message I like the least: whoever wrote “Loyal” should probably win a Grammy, but a song that characterizes women as amoral, fickle, and only interested in money sucks. “Problem” does almost the opposite, where awesome women declare that they’re better off without a man (with money) in their lives.

My Vote: “Loyal”
DENISE WARNER: Is this even a question?

My Vote: "Problem”
JOE LYNCH: Absolutely no musical complaints about "Loyal," but "Problem" was a sexy, sax-y star-making single for Grande. Hell, this song has three separate killer hooks, all of which are better than the one hook on most pop songs. Plus, Azalea's rapping here is better than anything on her own album. Clear K.O.

My Vote: "Problem”
ALEX GALE: At some point, I might not be bothered as much by Chris Brown singing lyrics like “these hoes ain’t loyal” (hmmm, I wonder why?). But not yet. “Problem,” on the other hand, is 2014 pop’s best argument for maximalism, indulgently segueing from diva gymnastics to Big Sean whispering sleazily to Iggy Azalea rapping decently to a sax sample that isn’t “Thrift Shop,” all without overstaying its welcome.

My Vote: "Problem”





OVERALL WINNER: “Problem”



Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules