The Singles Party: Shakira f./Rihanna, ‘Can’t Remember To Forget You’

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Sometimes we get a little rock ‘n’ roll centric on But when two of pop music’s heavy hitters Rihanna and Shakira team up for a one of the first all-star collabs of 2014, we’ve got to take notice.

Lauren Stern: Last week I heard Shakira and Rihanna’s “Can’t Remember to Forget You” driving. I was only able to hear the first verse since I was just arriving to my destination and thank God for that because I swore my ears bled a little bit. I never thought Shakira could sound more annoying than she already does but apparently her cringing yodel has the capabilities to cross substantial boundaries.

Prior to hearing this, I was the first to admit that pop music has gotten significantly better over the last couple of years, but this song makes me want to deny all claims. I’d rather listen to the new Katy Perry song every other hour than this and believe me, that says a lot. Verdict: One and Done


Nick Porcaro: “Can’t Remember to Forget You” is just about the last thing I expected from the Colombian warbler and her Barbadian cohort: a breezy, catchy pop-rock tune! Hooray! Although the song’s production leaves much to be desired—seriously, can we get some real drum sounds for once?—the hooks are potent and plentiful. The track features an interesting juxtaposition of upbeat, reggae strumming and pulsating rock beats used to convey the struggle of wanting what’s bad for you. It’s certainly a familiar topic for Rihanna and one she always excels at. I can see this track thriving in a live setting but the studio version ain’t too shabby either…mark this one as a pleasant surprise. Verdict: Add to playlist.

Mike Heyliger: I’m with Nick. Wasn’t sure what to expect here, but I am very happy with the result. Shakira edges back to her more rock-centric roots (because the dance-pop thing really wasn’t working out for her) and Rihanna is an able counterpart. Solid stuff. Verdict: Add to playlist.

Jason Kundrath: Shakira and Rhianna team up with mixed results on “Can’t Remember to Forget You.” The verses are perfect pop radio fodder, striking the balance between breezy and punchy, anchored by a slick, pseudo-reggae feel that recalls recent work by Bruno Mars. Shakira takes the first verse, and if you’re a fan of her unique vocal tones, you’ll be glad to hear them again. (The reverse is also true, of course.) For my time, however, Rihanna’s second verse is where it’s at. She has the attitude and delivery to sell it. Unfortunately, this track falters on the choruses, where the producers use distorted guitars for a limp, modern-rock approach that lacks the triumphant hook this tune needs for playlist status. Verdict: One and done.

Bill Bodkin: “Can’t Remember To Forget You” is one of those songs. It’s got some decent qualities but is ultimately forgettable. The reggae riffs and beats are actually quite enjoyable, but would’ve been suited better for an actual reggae band, ska outfit or even EDM superstar Major Lazer. Instead, it’s given to Shakira, who sings exactly like you’d expect her — in her own oddly enchanting way. However, her mojo doesn’t quite fit the musical backbone of the tune. Then there’s Rihanna who delivers a rather unmemorable guest spot. What’s unusual about Ri-Ri’s contribution is that it almost doesn’t even sound like her, in fact if you didn’t tell me who the guest vocalist on this track was I probably wouldn’t have guessed Rihanna. Her vocals are a very generic Caribbean-sounding spot that could’ve been sung by a session musician and produced the same results. Ultimately, this song is fine, but nothing spectacular. It’s destined for radio play and a spot on the latest Now! compilation, but will be shortly forgotten by the time the weather warms up — which probably would’ve been the right time to release it. Verdict: One and Done.

Jason Stives: There is something that works very well with “Can’t Remember to Forget You” that results in its own downfall and also its own ingenuity. On one end Shakira still to this day has a very distinct voice that despite a lack of a hit single in six years has allowed her to stay around and produce a product that works in pop music. The other end is it blends two very distinct sounds that starts the gears moving and powers through for the rest of the number. Part reggae/ska and then filtered through the female power pop stylings of a Kelly Clarkson it has a lot to offer. If anything the only part that feels useless is Rihanna’s guest spot and mainly because her voice is rather similar to Shakira’s in certain areas. The trouble with “Can’t Remember to Forget You” is it’s also instantly forgettable once it’s over. Something doesn’t scream car sing along nor party favor and that can be a really problem in selling this single that no doubt will find radio played in various markets. Does it deserve a place on a January 2014 playlist? Yes, but more as filler space among better pop songs currently circulating. The intent is there and I am willing to put on the list even if I’ll probably remember to forget it down the line. Verdict: Add to the Playlist

Kelly O’Dowd: I was pleasantly surprised, upon first listen, at how well Shakira and Rihanna’s voices blend. They compliment each other quite nicely and I wonder why is it now that they are only collaborating. Because, this is not a song they should be sharing. Neither woman has a chance to shine. This would have been better if just one voice was on the track. Saying that, it is a catchy song. I’ve caught myself having the chorus stuck in my head a few times this past week. But when all is said and done, a catchy chorus does not a song make. The verses are poorly worded and the music overwhelms everything except for “I can’t remember to forget you.” As a single, you can do better, but this song just screams “REMIX ME.” In a club this will sound so much better than on your ipod. Dance to it elsewhere, don’t own it. Verdict: One and Done

Final Verdict: By a one-vote margin we do not endorse the new banger from Shakira.

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Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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