Single Review: Nicole Scherzinger – ‘Poison’

There are usually just two ways in which you can score a hit these days. One is to have a subliminally catchy song that gets at the listeners gradually, seeping it’s way into their minds and gradually becoming more and more irresistible to listen to; it’s commonly these kinds of songs that will remain fresh and catchy every time you hear it, a good example of a recent song that does this is Adele’s new single, ‘Rolling In The Deep’. The other way is to go all out and hunt for a boisterously catchy, energetic dance song with heavy drums, huge chorus hooks and a massive production and hope for the best, Nicole Scherzinger’s ‘Poison’ is a good example of this kind of song. A very good example.

‘Poison’ has no subliminal message, it is basically about Nicole having the primal desire to go out and do a bit of town-painting (red is the colour of choice, naturally), but she warns you beforehand that she comes equipped with some “poison”. Lord knows what this poison might be, or whether it’s literal or metaphorical, but if it’s anything as powerful as those guitars and that drum loop, I’d steer well clear.

First thing you should note about this song is that’s it’s produced by RedOne, the mastermind behind songs as diverse as Lady GaGa’s already very extensive back catalogue of singles (with the exception of ‘Paparazzi’), and Enrique & Ciara’s ‘Takin’ Back My Love’, to MIKA’s ‘Kick Ass (We Are Young)’, Alexandra Burke’s ‘Start Without You’, and even Little Boots’ Top 10 hit ‘Remedy’.

Now, he was beginning to sound very recycled by the time David Guetta took over at the start of 2009, which was very much the French DJ’s year, aside from a few RedOne/GaGa projects. But now something’s changed, RedOne appears to have disappeared for a while, and sprung back out of nowhere with a new collaboration that just about marks his finest work to date. From the jagged guitar riff to the futuristic synths and randomised bleeps, he works his knob-twiddling magic over Nicole’s mature vocals to produce his biggest song since ‘Bad Romance’.

The song itself it utterly flawless, albeit just a tad repetitive, which is only a problem for those too dull to be able to enjoy it in the first place. Nicole plays her part well too, sounding super-sexy for the first rumbling verse which is then treated with another electric guitar loop, before it all breaks away for a skipping bridge which leads straight into a monolithic chorus, which has so much attitude – which thankfully comes across as more convincing than if it was whined by a gobby teenager – “That bad girl power I got/I’ll abuse it tonight”, Nicole wails.

But to be perfectly honest, the video is crap.

For a Ray Kay directed cut, that is incredibly cheap-looking.

So there we have it, short and sweet. ‘Poison’ is a brilliant dance pop song that’ll probably be overplayed to death and therefore refuse to go away after a few weeks now that she’s performed it on The X Factor, so I’d make good use of it before it does actually get annoying, but until then, there’s plenty of bad girl power to be had from Nicole.

Rating: 4.5 STARS

Download: November 29, 2010 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Her Name Is Nicole’

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  1. Gerard McGarry

    I honestly expected to hear you damn this with a “generic dance pop bland…not good enough for the Pussycat Doll…etc, etc”!

    Personally, I just can’t get into it. It’s the noise and the repetitiveness of it all, it’s the kind of song that could potentially be fatal if you heard it with a hangover. You know what I wish? I wish Nicole would just hire whoever masterminded the last PCD album. Everything about it was perfect pop. Every single was brilliant. I found myself watching this video and thinking that if I compared Nicole to Alexandra Burke, Alex would come out on top.

    1. Dara Hickey

      Oh I agree, there’s no competition between Nicole and Alexandra, but I feel there’s a substantial difference in the quality of their music. Alexandra is cursed with the tripe she’s given like ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘Start Without You’, whilst Nicole has RedOne’s best project since his Lady G collaborations.

      At times, I will concur, this does sound like generic dance/pop, especially when it’s been overplayed because yes, it is very repetitive, but at the moment I’ve managed to refrain from listening to it too much, and I love the use of electric guitars on; it just makes it that much more… interesting than say something Kelly Rowland would toss out. Although, maybe 5 stars is too much…

      1. Gerard McGarry

        That’s the difference between us though – I’ve loved everything Alexandra has released this year. Even that ballad that’s starting to do the rounds. She’s overtaken Leona as my favourite X Factor winner for sheer spunky personality. Sorry for using the word “spunky”, but you did say “something Kelly Rowland would toss out”, which made me laugh!

  2. Dara Hickey

    Yeah, I still love ‘Broken Heels’, ‘All Night Long’ and her new single ‘The Silence’ (the latter, VERY muchly) and right now I can’t wait to hear her collaboration with Cobra Starship (on her Christmas re-release), and she too is my favourite X Factor alumni purely because she’s the only popstar to come form the show – she has the voice, the looks, and, as you said, the personality to back it up.

    It just so happens I’m really liking ‘Poison’, unusually. :L Not quite sure why I like it, maybe it’s because RedOne’s back on form (it does feel like 80% RedOne and 20% Nicole) but I guess once it’s overplayed more than ‘Love The Way You Lie’, it’ll travel a little further down my list for sure.

    And there’s no crime in saying “spunky”, Gerard! Haha!

  3. justME

    I wonder if the whole pop scene is moving into what they think is subliminal(just an aside here- i don’t believe in subliminality- i think subliminality is actually mundanity with a pretend WOW)-and that the thing is to repeat so much that its almost like repeating memorising the maths times tables – its boringly monotonous, but you remember it all the same- some people like it, some don’t- it actually gets on my wick- heard it once is enough for me. it would be interesting to find out what other people think about subliminal though. 

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