Laurieann Gibson, right now, ranks up there with the likes of Scooter Braun and Simon Cowell: a marquee pop-music name who accomplished that without actually making any pop music. She started out as a Fly Girl, a career rung Paula Abdul and Jennifer Lopez have demonstrated really can lead to greater things, but in her case those things have been only tangentially musical: being Lady Gaga’s former creative honcho, quitting and becoming one of Nicki Minaj’s current creative honchos (that Grammy exorcism/disembowelment session? Her work) and juggling about a dozen outside projects.
She’d like that to change. (Understandable.) She’d like that to change so much that she calls her lead dance-pop single “Last Chance,” which is some severe moxie. She probably won’t see that change, though, at least not with this.
If nothing else, “Last Chance” is fascinating because it demonstrates how you can make a song that more or less fulfills every dance-pop criterion but doesn’t actually work. The synth bass starts solid, sometimes even inventive, then wilts during the chorus–a chorus with about half a melody–like a leaf in a downpour. Laurieann’s voice does the same. It’s not autotuned nearly as blatantly as some writers have suggested; rather, it’s dull, something no studio button can fix. She sings “dance for our lives” as if neither dancing nor living never really happened. That’s a representative lyric, too; they’re either forgettable, senseless (“this is the last chance to dance for our lives”–you don’t say) or stressed wrong. (“This is the final one”–not the greatest lyric itself–gets stuttered like any pop hook would, just in the exact wrong places.)
Everything here’s lazy, in other words, which is actually baffling; of all the accusations you could level at Gibson, “not trying” would never be one. And it shouldn’t even need saying how baffling a choice it is for a supposed career-launching track. If nothing else, though, “Last Chance” got a ready refuge in being incidental music for dance TV shows. Those will always have lives.