BSBB Round 5: Disclosure feat. Sam Smith, 'Latch' vs. Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne, 'Rather Be'

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

Latch

Disclosure feat. Sam Smith

Rather Be

Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne



JEM ASWAD: This is a very tough matchup. In terms of innovation and vocal performance, I've got to give it to DiSmithsure for their artful treatment of a deceptively durable song whose pop craft is actually displayed more in Smith’s acoustic version (available on the deluxe version of his album). But since pop is the operative word here, I have to say that “Rather Be” — with its indelible chorus, inescapable keyboard hook and 100 percent hummable content  — is the better classic pop song.
My Vote: “Rather Be”

ERIKA RAMIREZ: “Latch” pulls at your heartstrings while forcing you to dance. On top of that, Sam Smith’s pipes blow most singers away, straight out of the water. How can you go wrong with that, all in one song?
My Vote: “Latch”

JAMIESON COX: I got all pissy about the release date of “Latch” in an earlier round and it obviously didn’t matter, so I guess I’ll leave that behind for the purposes of evaluating this matchup. Picking a winner between these two feels a little bit like trying to judge a competition between a father and son: sure, the son might put up a fight — he might even do a little better — but he wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the old man. In a vacuum, I think I’d still prefer the jazzy swing and throb of “Latch” to the prim, clipped stride of “Rather Be,” even though I’ve come to love Jess Glynne’s genial vocal performance; when you toss in the magnitude of the influence of “Latch,” the decision is easily made. The student’s impressive, but it can’t quite surpass the teacher.
My Vote: "Latch"

KRISTEN YOONSOO KIM: I feel like these two could basically be the same song (am I wrong??), except “Rather Be” is like the generic brand you find at the 99-cent store. Give yourself an upgrade and treat your ears with “Latch” instead.
My Vote: “Latch”

WILLIAM GRUGER: As much as music critics and other sonic purists want it to be, music doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The cultural happenings surrounding its release, a good late-night performance or music video, or maybe the personal life of the artist or group, all factor into our opinion of a song. This is especially true in 2014, where our attention spans grew shorter with each GIF and snapchat shared, and a complete audio visual experience can be the difference between a song that gets forgotten and a song that creates an impact. “Latch” might be the best club-oriented dance song I’ve heard this year, and boy did I have some good times at festivals jumping up and down to it with friends. But ultimately, to me it’s just a great song. “Rather Be’s” video, which was shot in Japan, brought about the same sense of wonderment I experienced myself when traveling that part of the world just a month before the video was released. I get the same sense of energy and power from both, but there’s something about the diversity of the instrumentation and  lyrics in “Rather Be” that make it a personal favorite.
My Vote: “Rather Be”

JOE LYNCH: I love both of these tracks dearly, but it seems too strange to pick a track from 2012 (on an album from 2013) as one of 2014's best songs, so I'm going with Clean Bandit's immaculately produced, insanely catchy "Rather Be."
My Vote: “Rather Be”

ALEX GALE: Both of these songs are great, and both were key moments in the British 90s-dance-nostalgia trend cracking the States (and the Hot 100). "Latch" came first, however, but that's not the only reason it's better than "Rather Be." The song not only broke Disclosure, it broke Sam Smith, 2014's biggest new star.  And "Latch" remains one of his most emotive, muscular vocal performances, which is saying a whole lot after his own debut, In the Lonely Hour. But on the production end, "Latch" edges out "Rather Be" as well — it's filled with wonky, weird little surprises that your ear continues to find more than two years since its initial release, ones that shouldn't work together but do: its swinging triplet time signature, its ingeniously off-kilter bass burbles, the unnameable squirls and squiggles far off in the background. From soul to house to garage to pop, "Latch" bridged the gaps — it's one of the few big songs that pretty much everyone could agree in 2014.
My Vote: “Latch”

MAURA JOHNSTON: Both "Latch" and "Rather Be" served as decompression valves on pop radio this year — not necessarily breaths of fresh air, but places to escape the overstuffed-ness of Taylor Swift, or the relentlessly cascading smiley faces provided by "Happy." But "Rather Be" noses out Disclosure's Sam Smith collaboration because of how all that space allows it to be so devoted to detail; Jess Glynne's breathy vocal, the airy keyboard line, and the joyous string part build like a slowly growing crush, and it rises so delicately and deliberately that when the song finally explodes into its triumphant ending, it's like a first kiss accompanied by fireworks that explode while the smoochers reach a Ferris wheel's summit.
My Vote: “Rather Be”

JASON LIPSHUTZ: At this point in the competition, all that remains are great pop singles, and “Latch” and “Rather Be” are two of the most enthralling of the year. I’ve joyfully screamed along to both of these songs while surrounded by hundreds of people at a concert, and while alone in my car. And while that string riff from “Rather Be” remains crisp and rewarding, my reaction to the first five seconds of “Latch” is something almost animalistic. That distorted yelp at the beginning sounds almost like a battle cry when followed by the beats shoving the listener backward, crackling and rolling and laughing to themselves like they’re in on some sinister joke. The rest of the song is amazing, but those unbelievable five seconds are always what I think of first when someone mentions “Latch.”
My Vote: “Latch”

DENISE WARNER: In the battle of an electronic duo featuring an English singer versus an electronic group featuring an English singer, the decision is not easy. Both are infinitely catchy. Both speak of an all encompassing love. And both Smith’s and Glynne’s vocals add their own distinctive layers to the beats. But “Latch” loses only because Smith’s own acoustic version is better than the original.
My Vote: “Rather Be”

NICK WILLIAMS: While I am a huge "Rather Be" fan, I don't think the song's success will necessarily ensure Clean Bandit/Jess Glynne a lasting mainstream presence going forward, in the same way that "Latch" did for both Sam Smith and Disclosure. “Latch’s” lyrics and hook are downright special, and hearing that chorus (and Sam Smith's falsetto) pop everywhere this year — from the lawn at Governor's Ball to random car windows and headphones on the subway — made it feel much larger in scope.
My Vote: “Latch”


OVERALL WINNER: “Latch”

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

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