A group of female pop powerhouses has come together for an original song for what is surely going to be a deliciously campy movie that’s a hell of a good time. No, the year is not 2001, the movie is not Moulin Rouge, and the song is not “Lady Marmalade.”
It’s “Don’t Call Me Angel,” featuring the vocal stylings of Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Lana Del Rey. Everything about it evokes a callback to the Best Collaboration For A Motion Picture of Our Time (“Lady Marmalade”), from the star-powered names to the fact that the music video is basically like a shortened version of the movie.
Instead of stunting around in burlesque costumes, the three stars wear angel wings and low-drag catsuits. Instead of singing about making money from horny clientele, they croon about kickin’ ass and taking names. Well, Miley and Ariana do. Lana kinda goes on her own little bridge about being irresistibly sexy, but that’s Lana Del Rey for you.
While the song doesn’t reach the sheer emotional highs of “Lady Marmalade” — and, to be fair, few things can — the Ariana Grande/Miley Cyrus back and forth is actually catchy enough to get stuck in your head. But, once it gets going, that electric bubblegum-pop sort of gets dropped off the side of abridge, where the song devolves into a Lana Del Rey solo show for a bit. That’s when she starts shifting into the soft crooning she’s known for. Separately, they could work. But, unlike Lady Marmalade, these styles don’t really vibe when fused together.
What made “Lady Marmalade” so fantastic was pulling five stellar musicians with a wide range of vocal stylings. Mya’s soft crooning gave way to Pink’s raspy rock-and-roll voice, seamlessly shifting to Lil Kim’s rapping before ending on Christina Aguilera’s distinct belting. All of it bookended by Missy Elliot’s… Missy Elliot.
In contrast, Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande’s voices get lost in the shuffle, with Lana Del Rey pulling off a solo bit that doesn’t really fit in anywhere. But hey, the catsuits look stellar.
Maybe it just needs more Missy Elliot.