REVIEW: I Cannot Stop Listening to “Spinning” by No Rome, Charli XCX, and The 1975
I cannot stress enough that “Spinning” is my dream collaboration. The 1975 and Charli XCX are my favorite artists, full stop. If I had to guess, I probably listen to both at least five times per day. They’re the only artists that have topped my Spotify year end lists for the past six years. So you can imagine my excitement when, in August of 2019, Matty Healy decided to tweet this:
“Sent her a beat at like 5pm yesterday and woke up this morning to a HIT.
A MONSTER TUNE!!
I’m prolific but she’s on some shit @charli_xcx”
It was a big moment for me, even with no song to show for it. The very idea of such a thing was enough. A year and a half on, I had accepted that this might be a lost demo that I would only ever be able to dream of until No Rome came in with some surprise news in early February: He, Charli, and The 1975 had done a song together and it was coming “sooner than u think.” Cue me losing my shit!
That takes us to today, when “Spinning” was released by the only supergroup that matters (sorry, Boygenius). Though I have some minor complaints, I’ve decided that this is the only song I’ll listen to ever again, so hear me out.
No Rome is one of the most interesting of The 1975’s ever-growing list of protégés (not the most interesting because Rina Sawayama exists, but certainly great nevertheless), so it’s good to see him get the leading spot on the bill here. He operates in a liminal space between The 1975’s garagier tendencies and cloud rap, resulting in a discography that displays some of producer George Daniel’s best pop tendencies, from tastefully pitched-up vocals to soaring shoegazing synths. That flavor is very much present here, making it sound like a Rome song, even if Charli gets more ear-time overall. If you haven’t checked out No Rome’s solo stuff yet, “1:45 AM” and “Narcissist” are almost as infectious as “Spinning,” but more introspective and clever.
“Spinning,” however, has Charli XCX on it. As mentioned, it’s basically her track, even if Rome gets first billing. The lyrics and flow feel more like hers than anyone else's, even if the production unmistakably belongs to The 1975’s Daniel. She and Rome mesh together perfectly here; they sound simultaneously urgent and detached, a combination they could both consider specialties, melding together to create a nihilistic-sounding pop confection.
But where is Matty Healy? Barely in the song, as it turns out. He gets some backing vocals, but no dedicated verse. I do think it would’ve been nice to give him a verse, especially given how similar “Spinning” sounds to Notes on a Conditional Form. He would’ve killed it. However, allowing him and Daniel to take the reins with production to give Charli and Rome room to shine works well as it is. If this is a sign that Healy and Daniel are going to start doing more pop smash one-offs, sign me up. This already has the title of Song of the Summer on lock, so I trust that it would be a successful venture for them.
The song feels well and truly laced with sugar and adrenaline. It’s the kind of track you can put on replay and accidentally listen to thirty times in a row (I did this). The chorus is the brain-melting kind of repetitive that Charli has perfected; it has a gorilla grip on my already deteriorating psyche. I do keep spinning over there, and I will not stop until Spotify glitches on me again.
As a final positive note, I saw No Rome comment on Charli’s teaser Instagram post for the song a reference to “Coconut Mall,” a song from Mario Kart’s level of the same name, and I do understand how that kind of joke could be made. It moves at a fast tempo, with the kind of skittering beat often found in games made to keep children endlessly stimulated. It even has that bright and slightly retro flavor the original “Coconut Mall” carries. Am I obsessed with a song loosely influenced by Mario Kart? Perhaps.
My only miniscule complaints are down to the lyrics and, frankly, I can overlook those. Why is who spinning over there? I don’t know. It’s never made clear. Maybe it’s you spinning, or your ex that took amphetamines sometimes like the song kind of hints at (and haven’t we all been there?). Maybe it doesn’t even matter and I need to finally give in to the fact that some of the best pop music makes no sense. We all like “Wonderwall,” right? Think of this as the Gen Z “Wonderwall” and you’re on track to having a great time.
Anyway, I’m going to keep listening to “Spinning.” According to Last.fm, I’ve already listened to it fifty times, meaning that it’s officially already beaten out Slayyyter’s “Throatzillaaa” as my most listened to song of this year. It’s only been a day. Consider that my highest endorsement.
McKinzie Smith is a former film student from Portland, OR. In her adolescence, she followed Fall Out Boy up and down the West Coast. She now considers herself very cool and normal and only a little bit emo. She now spends most of her time listening to Charli XCX in her kitchen and writing articles about things she likes.