Feed The Beast
In August 2022, the public perception of Kim Petras began to shift after a TikTok of her and Sam Smith’s upcoming collaboration, “Unholy,” was released. Its all-consuming, dark energy filled the studio Petras and Smith were in — people flooded to the comments, begging for them to release the song.
A month later, they did, but as it turns out it was one of the biggest red herrings of 2022 — the studio version, compared to a live showing, was corny, and lacked the impact the studio’s speakers had. Combining Gregorian chants about a family broken by cheating and a familiar Petras verse about luxury brands, the song was a total dud, but rocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 anyway due to the immense online hype. The idea of the song, more than its actual content, seemed to be what the general public rallied around — two queer people with a No. 1 song at a time when government leaders and extremists tried everything to deny people like them existed.
That song is tacked on to the end of Feed The Beast, Kim Petras’ long-awaited “debut” studio album. It’s an alleged first effort, as Feed The Beast arrives after two Halloween-themed EPs, a mixtape, her scrapped album labeled Problématique, and last year’s Slut Pop EP, a collection so stupidly raunchy and one-dimensional it’s best to be categorized as a parody album, a persona Petras was in character for. After her delicious run of bubbly, bitchy dance-pop singles from 2017-2018, eyes were on her to be a frontrunner in pop’s comeback.
The result? Feed The Beast is okay. For someone so poised to be a future player in inventive hyperpop, most of the production choices on the album are soulless, verging on seeming generated by AI in order to keep listeners awake. “Thousand Pieces” and “Hit it From the Back” are easily the most egregious offenders, the latter being so repetitive and trite the backing track almost seems sleepy, as if it could peter off at any moment. Often, there’s such a mishmash of different styles that Feed The Beast seems like a patchwork quilt of different styles, personalities, leading to confusion about what the album actually is. “Coconuts” was allegedly on the scrapped Problématique album, a silly, tropical romp about her boobs, “Claws” seems like a throwback to her TURN OFF THE LIGHT days, “King of Hearts” and the title track are welcome, momentous Europop bangers, yet “Unholy” is a bizarre addition where Petras isn’t even the lead vocalist, more Sam’s song than hers.
There’s one more major collaboration on the album: “Alone”, with heavy-hitter rap star Nicki Minaj. Originally teased on TikTok — noticing a pattern? — people once again got excited for the song, which samples Alice Deejay’s 1999 Europop hit “Better Off Alone.” “I’ve been trying to give it to you all night / What’s it gonna take to get you all alone?” Petras asks in the chorus of the song amidst the instrumental’s momentous beat, exploding into catchy, trashy pop at any moment. But when the song arrived, there was no beat drop, no outlet for a rush — instead, the song devolved into a hazy trap beat where Petras’ lyricism is unsurprisingly trite (Minaj’s verse is fine). It was a total and complete fakeout: at least Bebe Rexha, who similarly mutilated a kitschy dance track with last year’s “I’m Good (Blue),” had the foresight to match the song’s mood and deliver a high-energy dopamine hit. “Alone” is as if a DJ repeatedly brought the crowd on edge just to turn off the music; it was such a catastrophe she had to release remixes to appease the fans demanding a version where she ramps up the energy. It was a bizarre choice that bungled the album’s rollout — Petras was able to reach these heights on previous singles and album cuts like “King of Hearts” and “Castle in the Sky”: how was this so badly misjudged here?
Feed The Beast is not devoid of good pop songs — the previously mentioned “King of Hearts” is a steamrolling, powerful anthem; “brr” utilizes a proto-SOPHIE beat (whom Petras has collaborated with before) to create an intoxicating and creative track; “Sex Talk” is a bouncy bop, despite its trite lyrics; “uhoh,” despite her insistence that “Everything I drop is a banger”, is a good time. And fine, let’s throw “Coconuts” in there as well — its main selling point is that it’s fun, which makes up for the album’s serious lack of personality. Alt-pop star BANKS also tries her best on “BAIT”, a more well-managed version of “Unholy”, but her scream-singing seems like it’s compensating a bit too much.
Kim Petras misjudged the moment. Feed The Beast is full of choices that actively work against her, when before her style of pop was easy and fun. Her collaborations with Minaj and Smith weigh the album down instead of showcasing her strengths, and when she does get the beat going, it’s usually bogged down with lyrics that anyone familiar with pop music has heard multiple times before. Feed The Beast is a nervous debut, one whose disconnected styles showcase Petras in a state of confusion of where to go.
Order Feed The Beast by Kim Petras HERE
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