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TRACK BY TRACK: Ava Max's 'Heaven & Hell'

09-21-2020 by Caitlin Myers

  ( © Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for MTV)  

 

Given the massive popularity of songs like "Sweet but Psycho" and "Kings & Queens" in the past year, it's crazy to think thatAva Max, the artist behind both of these hit tracks, didn't put out a full-length studio album untilHeaven & Hell was released last Friday (September 18). In a rare move these days, Ava split her album into 2 "sides", like old vinyl records of yore, with each presenting the two halves indicated in the title -- and the two sides of her "Sweet but Psycho" persona.

 

If 2020 hasn't been your year, let Ava Max remind you of a simpler time with her revamped take on the 2010s pop aesthetic. Let's break it down track by track!

 

A-SIDE:

 

1. "H.E.A.V.E.N"

This EDM/pop mash-up, while brief, also introduces the unique concept of the album: good vs evil (or, as Ava puts it, Heaven & Hell), as the 26-year old singer juxtaposes angelic sounds with darker beats, symbolizing the devil and angel that’s in all of us. 

 

Favorite lyrics: “Heaven's what you're like / You got me feeling H-E-A-V-E-N...”

 

 

 

2. "Kings & Queens"

This song helped secure Ava Max as a newcomer-to-watch, and for good reason. With its heavenly disco feel, Ava Max’s "Kings & Queens" is the perfect feminist anthem for the summer. 

 

Favorite lyrics: “If all of the kings had their queens on the throne / We would pop champagne and raise a toast / To all of the queens who are fighting alone / Baby, you're not dancin' on your own...”

 

 

 

3. "Naked"

Although "Naked" feels a little lackluster following "Kings & Queens", it demonstrates Ava’s abilities as a lyricist. At first, ‘Naked’ seems simple and promiscuous but proves to be a moving song about Ava’s struggles opening up to her lover. 

 

Favorite lyrics: "I think I'm ready to be exposed / I want you watching me when you take off all my clothes and really see me naked / See me for real...”

 

 

 

4. "Tattoo"

"Tattoo" feels like the perfect love letter to "Teenage Dream"-eraKaty Perry. This light-hearted, breezy tune is the perfect addition to a (socially distanced) road trip or beach day playlist. 

 

Favorite lyrics: “I’m like a tattoo that's over your heart (Yeah, yeah) / ‘Cause once I put this love on you, it never comes off...”

 

 

 

5. "OMG What’s Happening"

Ava shows off her high register in this faster-paced club track. While Ava is somewhat vulnerable in the first few tracks of the album, this is easily one of the most personal songs with its relatable spoken monologue (and scream of frustration) about one of those unfortunate "it’s complicated" situations we’ve all been in.  

 

Favorite lyrics: “Broadcast my emotions on the radio and take 'em off my chest / I hope you're listening, are you?”

 

 

 

6. "Call Me Tonight"

"Call Me Tonight" incorporates Ava’s impressive range with an '80s-esque pop ballad. If you’re a Madonnastan, this is the track for you. It’s also certifiably one of the best songs on the album for jumping up and down in your bedroom (or wherever you may be quarantining). 

 

Favorite lyrics: "Empty out your hands, pour me in your glass / If you need a light, I can be your match..."

 

 

 

7. "Born To The Night"

Ava Max has garnered many comparisons to the likes of Dua Lipaand Sia since she stepped on the music scene last year, and "Born to the Night" is a great reminder of why. Max’s strong, deep voice carries listeners through a tune that’s perfect for a night out with friends. 

 

Favorite lyrics: “The night is my mother the sky is my brother and I'm the daughter of star-crossed lovers...”

 

 

 

8. "Torn"

The lyrics in "Torn" capture the overall theme of the album. As the last song on the first side of the album, this track bids a sweet goodbye from "Heaven" before we plunge into "Hell". This fast EDM jam is the perfect song to dance alone to whenever you’re struggling with relationship troubles.

 

Favorite lyrics: “Torn from the pages out of our book, a beautiful tragedy / I'm torn in between heaven and hell, ‘cause baby when I'm with you I just don't know where I'd rather be...” 

 

 

 

B-SIDE:

 

1. "Take You To Hell"

On the other side (or, should I say, dark side?) of the album, Ava Max opens with a track fittingly called "Take You To Hell". This is my favorite track on the album, partially because it captures Max’s impressive range but moreso because it exemplifies her sour-but-sweet persona. This slower, darker beat is hauntingly glamorous (think Melanie Martinez meets old schoolKaty Perry). 

 

Favorite lyrics: “If you're gonna treat me right, I’ll take you to Heaven every night / But God forbid you leave me by myself, I’ll take you to hell...”

 

 

 

2. "Who’s Laughing Now"

My one complaint about Ava Max’s debut album is that it lacks versatility; however, this track’s reggae flare proves that Ava is unafraid to play with beats in interesting ways. If "Who’s Laughing Now" is indicative of anything, it’s that we’re bound to see more experimental songs from her in the future.

 

Favorite lyrics: “Never knew the sting of a stranger, never felt the words like a razor / But I won't give a damn 'bout it later, all the little digs doesn't matter / Writin' down a brand new chapter..."

 

 

 

3. "Belladonna"

Like the previous track, "Belladonna" is another more experimental effort from Ava Max that pays off. This song’s synth vibes combined with its female empowerment theme feels perfect for a feministBlade Runner reboot. Ava Max also proves she possesses theMariah Carey-like vocal range that’s rare in even some of the most talented singers. 

 

Favorite lyrics: “Belladonna, poisonous, contagious, get you high in my cabana...” 

 

 

 

4. "Rumors"

I won’t lie, "Rumors" feels like a bit of a monotonous buffer song sandwiched between two bangers. However, unlike the majority of the other songs on the album, "Rumors" isn’t necessarily about love. It’s just about those people that make us feel “ugh” sometimes. Although not Max’s best work, it’s a great song to listen to whenever you’re cutting toxic people out of your life. 

 

Favorite lyrics: “I hear 'em talk in the dead of the night / You’re always there at the scene of the crime...”

 

 

 

5. "So Am I"

Whenever you feel like an outsider or misunderstood, "So Am I" can provide an instant serotonin boost. On this track, the 26-year-old singer confidently owns her individuality and encourages her fans to do the same. 

 

Favorite lyrics: “You're beautiful but misunderstood, so why you tryna be just like the neighborhood?”

 

 

 

6. "Salt"

If you’re in need of a good empowerment song after a break-up, look no further. This feminist anthem is the perfect song to get ready to (even if the only place you’ll be today is in a Zoom meeting). Also, considering it’s the song that powered me through my workout this morning, I think it’s safe to say it’s perfect for your gym playlist as well. 

 

Favorite lyrics: “I got my thigh highs on, feel like Wonder Woman / That's when you want all in, but I'm not your woman...”

 

 

 

7. "Sweet but Psycho"

Ava Max ends her stellar freshman effort with the song that blasted her to fame. You’ve probably already heard this one, so you already know how great it is. But if by any chance you haven’t, go to Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, etc. ASAP to give it a listen.

 

Favorite lyrics: “You're just like me, you're out your mind / I know it's strange, we're both the crazy kind...”

 

 

 

Ava Max is the new fiery feminist energy that’s giving the entertainment industry a much-needed shake-up, and we here at Young Hollywood can't wait to see what she has in store for the future!