By: T-Rod

I’ve never been much of a sweets guy. While I usually (try) to eat clean for the most part, a lot of the sugar in my life tends to come from pop songs. When I heard Jessie Ware’s incredible 2023 album That! Feels! Good!, I was addicted to its unique palette all summer. One song reigned supreme however, and it’s one that you need to hear if you’d like some joy in your life: “Pearls.”

Walking on the line, it’s my human nature / I crave a little danger

Why do I say this song is so addicting? To keep it a stack, I think that for anyone who plays life safe, every aspect of the song embodies the tension and release of letting loose, even for just a little. Let’s dive into it.

To begin with the sound of the song itself, it’s a mesmerizing blend of disco, electronics, and pop that sets up a classy and festive vibe. There’s elegant piano, classy strings, and harmonized vocals that scream decadence…but other elements evoke a depraved dancefloor. There’s a bumping dance groove, a sick bass line to keep things steady, and buzzing synths that burn on the chorus, turning the track from ice to fire at a moment’s notice. The song’s progression even captures this cold-to-hot dynamic, with more subdued instrumentation matching Ware’s lower vocal tones, only to explode on the chorus in one of the most spectacular transitions you’ll ever hear. Play this song in a room full of people that don’t know Jessie Ware: they’ll be fans off of the beat and structure alone.

The beats of “Pearls” are the most important aspects of reeling in the listener, but what I think lands them in the boat is the songwriting and theming. The song doesn’t do anything too crazy conceptually, since on the surface it’s about getting out of your work shoes and throwing on a pair to dance in; lots of songs do that. What makes it hit like that sugar rush I described is the execution in the writing.

Let’s start with the verses and how they create a clear musical thruline. Verse one is an opening act, setting up a stable work life and typical gender roles, ending with Ware discussing her desires for excitement amidst normalcy. It works just like the beat: clean, elegant, pristine…but as it goes on things get dirtier, more primal. Verse two embraces that primal energy fully, moving on from what someone may see as the norm (work and tradition) to more uncertain and exciting things (love and scandal). Sure, these may seem simple on the surface, but good pop music is like a puzzle piece, each piece of a song working in synergy to paint a picture anyone can get down with.

That synergy is perfected in the peak of “Pearls”: the bridge and chorus. Again, very common themes here: “I know you want to go to the moon / But if you don’t go, you’ll never get there” is an obvious statement, but it works as a call for happiness when paired up with the chorus. “Shake it til’ the pearls fall off” comes in immediately, serving as a mission statement: Have fun and get away from the mundane, just for a bit. Much like the song, it’s a blunt, but surprisingly layered way to spin the song’s message to your whole body, especially when paired with the sound of the song. Get in there and dance. If you don’t you’ll regret it!

To me, some of the best songs in the world make you want to dance even when you know you can’t…and “Pearls” is 100% one of those songs. Give it a shot, and thank me later.