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‘exes’ Review: Tate McRae’s Latest Single is Fun But Forgettable

Tate McRae released "exes" on Nov. 17.
Tate McRae released "exes" on Nov. 17. By Courtesy of Tate McRae / RCA Records
By Audrey H. Limb, Contributing Writer

Tate McRae’s latest single, “exes,” will get anyone to dance. With its upbeat tempo and flippant lyrics, the hook is undoubtedly catchy. However, the lack of innovation and substance throughout the song makes it forgettable, and sets an underwhelming forecast for future drops.

“exes” marks the second single of McRae’s upcoming sophomore album, “Think Later,” which will be released on Dec. 8. It follows the smash success of the album’s lead single, “greedy,” which currently crowns Spotify’s Top 50 Global chart.

Like “greedy,” “exes” relies on a simple chorus that is unapologetic, playful, and easy on the ears. The melody of “exes” hovers around the same two pitches, alternating between them so regularly that it quickly bores the listener. The entire song also revolves around a single four-chord progression, which makes it feel frustratingly cyclical.

This repetitiveness drags down other parts of the song as well. The song’s introduction is an exact replica of its post-chorus, while the outro is yet another rehashing of the chorus. The bridge is the only section that switches the sound up, as McRae introduces sixteenth-note rhythms for the first time. The faster rhythms in the bridge are a refreshing contrast from the steady eighth-note motif dominating the rest of the song. Unfortunately, every other section of “exes” is highly predictable, which listeners may find tiresome.

Although some lyrics, like “I know that I did you dirty,” reveal more vulnerability, the vast majority offer nothing of substance. Countless repetitions of “Kisses to my exes” and “I’m sorry, sorry that you love me” feel empty. Each chorus also concludes with the tongue twister, “Let's just say it is what it is and was what it was.” Though this lyric could’ve been an opportunity for clever wordplay or a nuanced perspective on relationships, it falls short of actually leading anywhere. These superficial lyrics plague the song throughout, ultimately preventing McRae from communicating meaningful ideas.

Like many of McRae’s recent releases, “exes” is a short song. However, two minutes and 39 seconds are more than enough to understand its message — or rather, the lack thereof. Fans will probably enjoy the song as a catchy, infectious dance hit. After the first few replays, though, they’ll find themselves wanting more out of McRae... and hoping that the artist’s upcoming album will have more to say.

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