Chris Ning has a lot of buzz backing him as he enters the autumnal season of 2020, and if you’re on top of the Canadian and American pop undergrounds as much as I am, you know that isn’t exactly the case for a lot of his closest competition in either country this year. In Ning’s new single “Explode” and its humbling music video, we’re not experiencing fluff or filler from the instrumentation as a talented singer spits half-rapped lyrics about the millennial mundane. We aren’t sitting through pseudo-conceptualisms that don’t belong anywhere near a pop song, nor fake hybridity of any sort – this is a singer/songwriter propelled into the spotlight by passion, and it’s making his one of the more cathartic sounds of the year in “Explode.”
When even the synthetic components in a song feel really organic and textured, you know you’re listening to something of a particularly high quality, and that’s exactly the case with this song. There’s a boundlessness to the way the guitar, synth, bass and percussion all sort of run together like wet paints on a canvas, alluding to a lack of control that Ning fosters through his lyricism and never the execution of his performance, and for me, it makes it clear just how real a story he’s telling in this single.
The music video for “Explode” is a little understated comparative to what I probably would have wanted to do had I been in the producer’s chair, but at the same time I suppose I can understand what the objective here was. Cutting away the fat from a visual piece is imperative when constructing something intimate and provocative lyrically – whether it’s a ballad or even a ripping rock song – and while he goes further than some others might have, Ning’s conservative take on the imagery here is actually a little telling of his immense depth as a poet more than as a songwriter specifically.
Those who have grown absolutely and utterly sick of quarantine pop would be wise to hear what Chris Ning is serenading the world with in his new single and music video “Explode” this October, and I would be frankly surprised if I were the only critic commenting on its melodically virtuosic appeal. Whether you or someone you know has felt the burden of pain that comes with a suicide, this is a strain of pop that anyone with a heart can respect.
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