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Alicia G’s “Shake Down”

The buzz around Alicia G’s career has been getting significantly stronger in the past year, and it’s no doubt because of her crossover into country music, with her latest single, “Shake Down,” scoring points among both pop and Nashville types this summer. While she’s a New Yorker by origin, Alicia G is rocking a strong countrified edge in this performance that feels a little more natural than some of her experimentation in hip-hop did, and if you’re interested in an artist who isn’t playing by the rules but instead finding their own way to the spotlight, she’s someone worth taking note of.

Both the song and its video feature some campy elements that would otherwise be hard for an artist to pull off without the kind of panache Alicia G contributes with her vocal alone. Her voice is layered in the mix quite well, and there are instances where the sonic depth of the backdrop allows for her to harmonize with herself, which gives the climax in the chorus all the more intensity than it would have had to begin with. She might have a lot of cosmetic luster here, but she’s still an artist, and you don’t have to listen to anything more than “Shake Down” to see just how involved with her medium she is.

Alicia G’s pipes are consistently the star of her singles, and in this sense, “Shake Down” is no different from the previous content she’s released. Although she doesn’t have a lot of breathing room with the bassline in this arrangement, she’s able to straddle the bottom end with a flexibility that can’t be faked into existence. The words roll off of her tongue with a seamlessness a lot of her contemporaries would kill to possess on their own, and she never sounds intimidated by the instrumentation – she’s owning it.

This is probably the least aggressive Alicia G has been at the microphone to date, but it makes sense considering the relatively simplistic melodic foundation on which this single is built. Had she been more indulgent, I can’t say that the harmonies would feel as sensuous as they do, nor as imposing when it matters the most. “Shake Down” has an erotic side, and it’s present because of the way that this artist chooses to leverage her delivery, not because of what she’s singing or even how she’s singing it here.

Both sexy and direct, this latest single from Alicia G affirms what a lot of us already knew about her career, and I think it’s going to do quite well with those who have already been backing her through the years. There’s something to be said about pop music that doesn’t overthink itself, and while I’m a sucker for the plasticized bubblegum content that rules over the FM dial as much as anyone else is, cutting away the lyrical and musical fat in the name of making something slick like this is indeed just as valid – if not more so when it comes in the form of a song like “Shake Down.”

Mindy McCall



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