A message to Keri Hilson: collaborations with big name rap and R&B stars don’t work. Ask Estelle, whose career still hasn’t recovered from the massive success of American Boy. Ask Nicole Scherzinger, who received a lukewarm reception to her solo work, despite some high-profile collaborations.
You’ve seen Keri Hilson before, readers. She’s guested on a couple of Timbaland singles, is a great songwriter in her own right. And her latest single features two megastar guest appearances by Kanye West and Ne-Yo.
So there’s no doubt she’s well connected, but is it a good song? Well, not particularly. I’ve always rooted for Keri, hoping that a talented songwriter could break through as an artist. Unfortunately, the material in Knock You Down is mediocre and fails to show any of the artists in a particularly good light. It’s that smooth, bland R&B treatment with an average hook in the chorus, but not much else to recommend it. Even Kanye lets us down with a rap that feels almost phoned in.
The music video doesn’t help matters, with Keri and Kanye (Kerye? Kanri?) indulging in some light petting and random scenes of them falling over in slow motion. It all feels disjointed and uncomfortable.
Worst of all, Keri spectacularly fails to stand out on this track, raising the question if it’s the material or the performer who’s the disappointment here. And sadly, if this is what counts for single quality, I shudder to think what the rest of the album contains. Knock You Down isn’t a great advert.
P.S. In the interest of fairness, Mark at The Critical Condition writes a more positive review suggesting that it might be worthy of the title ‘Summer Anthem’. Here are a few select quotes from Mark’s review:
The more I listen, though, the more I appreciate how the song’s familiar pieces add up to mindless, scrumptious joy. Keri Hilson isn’t distinctive enough to revolutionize the sound of R&B, but she’s got good taste in producers and collaborators, and the team creates an exceptional version of the current status quo, blending the highest quality guest rap,thumping bass hook, and electronic sound wash into a pleasurable jam.
In other words, “Knock You Down” is a song that lets you roll down your car’s window on a warm night, stick out your arm,and let your hand bounce on the wind. It’s an uncomplicated good time.
And now it’s over to you. I know I’ll forget this song as soon as its airplay dies away, leaving one question hanging: did it help of hinder Hilson’s solo prospects? What do you think?