Single Review: Camila Cabello – Havana

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Redbrick’s Suraj Hallan says that Camila Cabello’s most recent single has pushed her solo career in a more promising direction

After dramatically departing Fifth Harmony in December 2016 due to creative differences between her, her fellow-group members and management, the world wondered what was next for the talented Camila Cabello. In mid-2017, the Cuban-born superstar embarked on a solo career. Her debut-single, ‘Crying in the Club’, despite being an amazing song, was an unfortunate commercial failure, reaching only Number 12 on the UK Charts and Number 47 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and failed to make much of an international impact.

Unwilling to be disheartened by the performance of her debut, her follow-up ‘Havana’, featuring rapper Young Thug, is showing great signs of promise. ‘Havana’, the song’s title, capital of the Caribbean island Cuba, and also birthplace of Cabello, shows Cabello taking us back to her Latin roots and embracing them. The opening melody of the song already has the listener’s heart beat rising as its intense Latin flavours and sounds increase the heat already. Then comes the chorus, with Cabello’s sultry vocals and the ‘Oh nah nah’ heightening the listeners’ intensity with the song.

The lyrics in the first-verse are however rather predictable, they seem to sound like something put together in the first attempt or in a late-night writing session. Despite the lyrics not spiralling much out of the creative zone, the chorus and concept of ‘Havana’ make up for this, and it still sounds great! The start of the song is one big, dramatic, intense and fiery Latin bop. First impressions of this song are positive, they show Cabello taking us back to her Cuban heritage.

Moving on however, verse three, which guest features rapper Young Thug, is a disappointment. It seems even though she has left Fifth Harmony, some FH traditions have followed Cabello into her solo career. This tradition that has followed is the unnecessary featuring of rappers. You can take the girl out of Fifth Harmony, but not the FH out of the girl! But the song could have been just as amazing without Young Thug, in fact better.

Young Thug adds a downer to ‘Havana’. The song, at first, is something very sensual. With Camila’s lead vocals it gets hotter and hotter and bubbles over with the spicy chorus, creating something which gives the listener goose-bumps. The guest appearance of Young Thug cools this intensity with his generic rap, immature and lazy-sounding vocals, which have no relevance to the song’s message. Shut up and let Camila sing! However, this is forgivable as there has been a growing trend this century where many artists needlessly use rappers on third verses of their songs. That infamous third verse!

After the guest appearance from Young Thug, the chorus comes again. The vocal ability portrayed by Cabello is outstanding, it is unlike any artist on the charts right now. Her distinctive tone enables her to stand out and become one of the most instantly recognisable voices on the radio. As well as her vocal ability adding to the uniqueness of the song, the cultural aspect of this single distinguishes it too. ‘Havana’, as Cabello’s birthplace, has a deep connection with her and the love she has left behind in her native land, when she says, ‘half of my heart is in Havana’ it allows fans and listeners to feel a sense of relatability and insight with Camila as it is so personal. This is a very powerful tool employed by Cabello as the songs doesn’t just tell a story, it tells her story!

‘Havana’ is already showing promising signs of success and overshadowing the unfortunate performance of ‘Crying in the Club’. The song has already reached Number 1 on the UK iTunes Charts and has narrowly missed the UK Number 1 spot as well. There is still plenty of time for Cabello to achieve her first ever UK Number 1 though, and ‘Havana’ certainly has the potential to get there. Despite the not so great guest appearance of Young Thug, the song is probably one of the best songs of the year and it is remarkable that Cabello (only aged 20) has written and performed something so mature. It is deeply impressive display of her natural-born talent.

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