Wow is the expression you could use to describe any of Beck’s massive left-turns in his career. It also happens to be the title of his new song, a trendy hip-pop song with the kind of high pitched backing vocals, airhorn-like synths and brittle drums that’s filling the charts right now. It’s also surprising to see Beck take this direction after his sombre, acoustic last album Morning Phase, which was followed by the psychedelic and excellent single ‘Dreams’. By this point, ‘Wow’, shouldn’t be a surprise, and with Beck’s history of rapping it shouldn’t be confusing to see him try this style, but it is kind of jarring, and, dare we say it, sounds like Beck genre-hopping for the sake of genre-hopping.
Pop isn’t anything unusual for Beck, it’s just that in the past he has retained some of those idiosyncrasies that made him a little bit quirkier and ahead of the pack. It could mean ‘Dreams’, which picked up Tame Impala’s recent stretch for pop, and ran with it. There’s no life in ‘Wow’, even if it can perfectly show how Beck can imitate the pop of the moment. The lyrics, where Beck does manage to work in some of his weird eccentricities, there’s sore thumbs like ‘Now we’re pissin in the wind cause it’s so pine fresh’ and the infuriatingly catchy chorus of ‘Wow! It’s like right now’. In that aspect, Beck has crafted a very modern pop song which might have some legs on the radio.