Romance by Camila Cabello: Review
Apart from how I feel about “Shamila”, or her exit from Fifth Harmony about two years ago, I found myself extremely excited for Camila Cabello, and for her sophomore album, Romance. I definitely feel like Cabello has made a ton of right moves after her departure from Fifth Harmony, the Simon Cowell-manufactured girl group where her career started. Her music as a solo artist has always felt authentic to who is she is as a musician and she’s matured in a way that has never felt too forced. I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed her first album, Camila, and gained even more respect for her when I watched her open for Taylor Swift at the MetLife Stadium in July 2018.
In terms of how she writes music, and especially in terms of what she wanted to achieve with Romance, Cabello stated the following at her recent Apple Music live event:
“I started songwriting when I was about 16 years old, and I was listening to a lot of singer-songwriter music. I was obsessed with Taylor Swift, and Ed Sheeran, and John Mayer, and I was obsessed with the idea of immortalizing a memory. I loved the fact that you could literally capture in a sonic photograph your first kiss, a fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend. I was obsessed with the idea of being able to kind of look back on those memories when you’re 80 years old, and I just got really curious about it.”
Needless to say, as a fanatic of Melodrama by Lorde, which revolves around a similar idea, I was more than ready to dive into this album. Here’s my track-by-track review of Romance.
“Shameless” was released as Romance’s first single back on September 5th, alongside “Liar”, and I was thrilled to see such a dark-sounding track paired with a fun bop like “Liar” to kick off this era. The verses are just fine to me, but you can catch me acting out and belting the prechorus and chorus of this song in the car on any given day. And don’t even get me started on when the bass comes in on that post-chorus mumble thing that Cabello does. The song is a clear departure from the sound of Camila, as Cabello dares you to take a deeper look at her and wonder if you ever really knew what she was about at all. With “Shameless”, Cabello sets the stage for a very intense and vulnerable look into her emotions—the good, the bad, the ugly, the desperate, the passion, all of it. I’d say overall, this is in my Top 5 tracks on Romance.
Favorite lyric: “My kisses are history, they go back a long time / And I’m tired of loving somebody that’s not mine”
Favorite musical moment: As previously mentioned, I LIVE for when the bass kicks in during the post-choruses, and I really love how Cabello’s voice soars in the chorus. I think my favorite aspect of the song, though, is the feeling of desperation that makes itself more and more present with every ad lib Cabello throws into the very last chorus.
I absolutely was not a fan when this first came out, mainly because I couldn’t understand what she was saying in the chorus, and I’m really tired of songs using spiritual metaphors to describe sex (think: “Take Me To Church” by Hozier and “god is a woman” by Ariana Grande, although this is no reflection on how I feel about the artists themselves). But after seeing the way Cabello performs this so cleanly and beautifully in recent live performances, I’ve grown to like it a lot more. While I’m not a huge fan of how she pronounces certain words, like “freckles” in the second verse, this song is proof (heh heh) of her versatility as a vocalist.
side note: don’t know what’s happening in the beginning but ok sure
Favorite lyric: um I don’t love any of the lyrics oops sorry it’s just not my vibe
Favorite musical moment: I love the triplets in the second verse (“One-at-a” and “what-are-you” in “One at a time, what are you hiding?”).
Should’ve Said It
This song is definitely in my Top 5. I love how fun and sassy it is—everything from the HEYS in the background, to the tongue-in-cheek rest instead of an expletive in the chorus (“‘Cause you didn’t give a [rest] back then”), to the run at the end of the second verse makes it a verified Blast In The Car With The Bass Turned Up BANGER. Also, apparently this is about how she could’ve had something with Shawn Mendes but he missed his chance, and now that they’re dating, he said it’s actually his favorite track from the album. Thinking back to what Cabello said at her Apple Music concert, I love that this song can really encapsulate a feeling and a time in two people’s relationship with each other. It’s so cool that Cabello was able to write this song to process what happened, only for Mendes and Cabello to find their way back to each other and listen to this song now with completely different feelings for each other. Music is SICK.
Favorite lyric: The WHOLE BRIDGE (“I wish that you could turn back the time / You’d hold me closer instead of your pride / I knew it was you from the very first night / And it took you two years to make up your mind”) yikes bruh
Favorite musical moment: I love anything with hand claps, but seriously, my favorite music moment is probably any time the harmonies kick in.
My Oh My (feat. DaBaby)
I’m personally not a DaBaby person (I don’t think? I’ve never really tried? Is it pronounced “duhbay-bee” or “Dah-Bay-Bee”? I don’t know but I wouldn’t choose “DaBaby” as my stage name if I ever became a rapper) but my students love him so I was definitely interested to see how this track would sound. My initial thought was, uh, what is this laugh and this scream, but I think after watching her performance of this song on Jimmy Fallon, I get it more (it’s supposed to be a schoolgirl thing….maybe). I don’t know how I feel about the call and response aspect of the chorus but I will say it’s a fun focal point of the track. I absolutely love the prechoruses and how tense they are, only to drop to that smooth chorus again. But apart from that, while I do understand why this song is being promoted more recently, I don’t think it contributes a lot to Romance as a whole and is a little boring.
Favorite lyric: I don’t think I have one..
Favorite musical moment: The prechoruses are bangin’.
I’m really tired of this song. I will admit that it has a special place in my heart because it was a bop that my best friend and I played in the car a bunch of times with the windows down this summer, as we were prepping things for my wedding, but it’s not particularly exciting. I think Mendes and Cabello’s other duet, “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” is far more interesting and thrilling. I personally do love and support both artists, but I don’t know if this track deserves to be the huge hit that it’s become. I mean, really, without the buzz around the “Shamila” relationship, would this song have done as well as it has? Also, every time they perform this song, it’s the same exact routine and quite frankly, it’s pretty boring. All in all, this isn’t a bad song but I wouldn’t attribute the majority of its commercial success to the track itself.
Favorite lyric: “Sapphire moonlight / we danced for hours in the sand / tequila sunrise / her body fit right in my hands” I guess because I like imagery and a tequila sunrise is my go-to fun drink but I don’t think there are any lines that really stick with me :/
Favorite musical moment: I really like the tiny lil prechorus right before the second chorus and the hits on “don’t stop”.
Out of all the singles, “Liar” may be my least favorite, but it’s definitely still a bop. I’m a sucker for hand claps and the music video for this was so fun. Again, I liked that it was released alongside “Shameless,” which was SO different. Cabello’s lyrics are a little difficult to hear clearly here, but ~artistry~ I guess. I do think the elements of flamenco, Latin trap, and ska-pop that are sprinkled into this song are a little cheesy at this point, but it’s an enjoyable enough track for you to ignore that.
Favorite lyric: “But what if you kiss me? / And what if I like it?” that nervous energy #relatable
Favorite musical moment: I like the little “I think I wanna let it happen” in verse 2 and basically from there until the top of the second chorus.
Bad Kind of Butterflies
I think that “Butterflies” marks a turning point in Romance where Cabello makes things a little more personal, and a little more brutally honest. We’re starting to get into what we (or, at least, I) expected coming into this album. Honestly, I give Cabello props for putting this on the album. Admitting to be interested in someone else while you’re in a relationship is not something that will necessarily make people like you more, so I admire the honesty in her writing and her commitment to letting her fans in fully. Also, it’s got a bit of a Billie Eilish feel to it, in my opinion. This isn’t one of my favorite tracks on the album, and it’s extremely different from every other track stylistically, but it does a great job at telling her story.
Favorite lyric: “What do I do when I love you and want somebody else? What do I lose if I don’t choose and keep it to myself?” uhh MAJOR TEA BEING SPILLED
Favorite musical moment: I think I really enjoy the contrast between Cabello’s falsetto and that rattling bass in each chorus. It makes the song a lil spoopy.
I wasn’t a fan of this track when it was released as a single in October but it’s really grown on me after listening to it several times. The pizzicato strings and simple melodic line make it a really pretty song. I think it does a good job at depicting what it’s like when you feel yourself relaxing and becoming more of yourself around someone you love and whose opinion matters a lot to you, as you understand that they’re here for you and they’re sticking around. Cabello came to a beautiful realization in her life, and this is for sure the song to match it.
Favorite lyric: “You really, really love me / You know me and you love me / And it’s the kind of thing I always hoped I’d find” What a sweet lyric
Favorite musical moment: I don’t think I have a favorite musical moment because the song is fairly standard in terms of rises and falls, but it’s pretty nonetheless.
At this point in the album, I realize there hasn’t been a single song so far that I haven’t been down for. Sure, I like some other than others, but overall this is a really beautifully produced album, and clearly Cabello put her all into it. It’s been seriously enjoyable and I’m excited for the rest.
Feel It Twice
I love how beautiful and heartbreaking this track is. Cabello’s voice is super clear here, as she sings about a potential lover’s lost opportunity and how she wishes he had taken his chance. Just like “Should’ve Said It,” I think this song is also about Shawn (notice how both songs refer to a two year time frame), so I think, again, that it’s really brave of her to put out such vulnerable songs about someone she’s currently with, even if the feelings in those two songs demonstrate a negative emotion previously felt towards her current lover.
Favorite lyric: “I know love is the loneliest place when you fall alone” and the whole chorus tbh
Favorite musical moment: I think the melody of the chorus is really engaging and gorgeous.
Dream of You
I love, love, love, love, love this song. It feels so intimate and real and for anyone listening to this song who’s been in love or is currently in love, this song really captures that feeling. This song is absolutely in my top 5. The “talking about nothing” line in the chorus, I’m pretty sure, is a reference to a line in “Real Friends” from her previous album, Camila, where she says, “I just wanna talk about nothin’ with somebody that means somethin’.” Apparently, she wrote this when she was still with Matthew Hussey, her boyfriend pre-Mendes, but regardless of who it’s about, I’m glad she’s found that someone to write this song about.
Favorite lyric: “And you squeeze my hands two times, three times / And believe me, I’ll love you always, always” (I also really like the first verse)
Favorite musical moment: The huge skip in the chorus’ melody is really unexpected and pretty, and it adds to that ethereal vibe that I think the song is trying to give off.
Cry For Me
This song is so silly and overdramatic and I am eating all of it up. It’s such a fun song about such an ugly emotion, and I like that she put words to this feeling that I have totally related to in the past but have never been able to articulate well. I like that she took a risk on this song—which, if you didn’t know, Ryan Tedder is listed as a co-writer on—by pushing herself dramatically and also in terms of range (that bridge is way too high), to get her point across and to paint a picture of desperation and rage. Because this is a song with such an exaggerated, well, everything, it can definitely be hit or miss with some listeners (i.e., I think it’s an enjoyable song but my husband can’t find it in him to like it at all), but I appreciate Cabello’s risk-taking on it. By the way, those Michael Jackson HOO’s in the back are amazing.
Favorite lyric: It’s probably a tie between “When I said I hope you’re happy, didn’t mean it / Never thought you’d be so good at moving on” and “Say you’d d-d-die for me, die for me / And if you can’t, then baby, lie for me, lie for me”
Favorite musical moment: I love the electric guitar in the beginning.
Something about this reminds me of “Higher” by Rihanna, off of Anti. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re both in 6/8 time, or maybe it’s the fact that both deal with really raw emotions. But anyway, Cabello sings about a relationship gone sour in this track and all I can think is, “Man, that really, really sucks.” There’s a line in the chorus that says, “Get out of my veins,” and I can’t help but remember how much, if Cabello is singing about the same person in both songs, she loved having this person in her veins (referring to “Never Be The Same” from Camila.) I’m a little back on forth on how I feel about her f-bombs in the chorus being partially muted. On one hand, I think it’s a little tongue-in-cheek, because she knows a lot of little girls listen to her. On the other hand, if she wanted to record a song with full transparency, loaded with emotion, she should have just committed to saying what she’s really thinking. Regardless, I dig this song but am definitely sad thinking that she’s been through a relationship that’s made her feel trapped.
Favorite lyric: “Losin’ you I couldn’t face / But to love you is worse / Waitin’ for you just in case one day it doesn’t hurt”
Favorite musical moment: I can’t say I have a particular moment in mind, but I do like Cabello’s riffs and changes to the last chorus.
Used To This
Oh man, I really like this song, too. I was curious to see how this song would sound because I know Finneas cowrote and produced it, and I have to say, it’s another winner in my book. I also enjoyed reading the Genius annotations and seeing the specificity in the lyrics (it’s clearly about Shawn). This song is so dreamy and Cabello does a nice job with her soft, humble vocals of depicting the feeling of gingerly treading into new territory when you see someone you’ve known for a while in a beautiful new light. Something about it reminds me of the tenderness Taylor Swift took to writing “Delicate” from reputation.
Favorite lyric: “No, I never liked windy cities / But I think maybe when you’re with me, I like everywhere” and “I say your name, just listen / Doesn’t it sound different? / Never whispered it this way”
Favorite musical moment: I love the first and last “definitely” where it’s just Cabello’s voice, and I really like the overlapping lyrics in the very last chorus:
“I could get used to this (I feel it all)
I could get used to this (Your kisses, I’ll risk it all)
I could get used to this (Seven teen when we started to fall, but we lost it all)
I could get used to this (And I just can’t believe it at all)
I also think the glass clinking in the second verse is super cute :o)
This album really didn’t disappoint. Like I said before, not every track is a favorite necessarily but I do really enjoy the album, and can honestly say I learned a lot of the words to it by a week after it was released. Super stoked for what else is in store for Cabello (Cinderella???) and you can bet I’ll be looking for tickets on StubHub when she comes around on tour next September.