Make no mistake: Yellow Claw gets it right here. “Crash This Party” is a big song that marks a huge moment for one of Made in Singapore music’s most recognisable voices and faces. Whether you’re a local music lifer or a fully committed cynic, you can’t deny that the phenomenon of Tabitha Nauser’s voice riding over the skyward sonic boom made by EDM’s most rabble rousing crown princes isn’t something. But that’s just the tip of it. Strip away its context and the song still beams with a dynamism that makes it a Technicolour, high-tempo marvel.
The tidal wave that is club-and-festival-friendly EDM shows no signs of receding – but that doesn’t mean that the Dutch duo and Singaporean siren have merely played to the gallery. “Crash This Party” is such a party because its two agents have savvily reverse engineered a beyond-effective mainstream framework and retrofitted it with parts that amplify what was good about it in the first place. In the process, both names underscore what makes them such formidably viable contenders in the arena that is contemporary pop music.
In 2018, emphatically hating EDM is a tired and corny proposition because, like alt-anything and mumble rap, it’s been swallowed by the taste-aggregating monster that is pop and is, as it has been for almost a decade now, everywhere. Collaboration is one thing – but if a song is nothing more than a stack of names, it’s, to quote Anggun, “noise pollution”. Good pop, now, the kind that follows you from playlist to playlist, the kind you live with, is forged in a crucible that allows for cross-pollination. And to this end, “Crash This Party” is a triumphant convergence of worlds.
Of course, things are always loud when Yellow Claw’s around. But the group’s greatest weapon – that’s allowed it to outlast damn near all its DJ-producer competition – is its uncanny ability to weave a multiplicity of textures amidst all its thunderous sweep and scale. “Crash This Party”’s raw materials are synths, keys, bass, strings and Tabitha’s pearlescent voice – but its congealed whole far surpasses the sum of these disparate parts. Going big is both a means and an end in populist dance music – the proverbial journey made literal in sound. And here, the portentous synths, tightly slapping hi-hats, polyphonic melodies all cavort into the body-blasting drop that is the happy payoff of the journey’s end.
But the human voice that holds the reins of the surging parts is also the prize of the experience. Tabitha goes for the heart with a laser-focus intensity that’s charged with a strong and affective emotional valence. Longing, sweet longing, the deathlessly perennial trope of pop music is the well she draws from – “Falling down but it feels like flying / What you doin’ to me? / And I don’t care if we crash this party / As long as you are with me”. Well-trod ground, yes? But the difference here is that she makes you believe in a larger emotional and musical picture – the communal repository of feeling, those feels that can animate a song and make it resound for you.
She’s the eye of the storm, the center of the turbocharged sonics who ensures its blastoff is poignant and powerful. Dance music is predicated on its facelessness but in her commandeering of this song’s teeming parts, she makes its heat-seeking energy feel personal and intimate. And besides making you dance and embedding itself in your consciousness, that is what pop exists to do.
Yellow Claw and Tabitha tie an elegant knot here. And if you think EDM doesn’t have space for elegance, know that now it does.
Listen to it below.