“Buttercup,” the new single from acclaimed pop musician Little Hurt (and featuring star vocalist The Ready Set), isn’t a political song in nature, but its intellectual lyricism and intrepidly stylized narrative can’t help but evoke some pretty strong imagery and thoughts about our society as it stands today. In the track, Little Hurt sings about himself as much as he does a commentary about the world around him, keeping his head above the water one day at a time, never allowing too much pain or pleasure to cloud his judgment or shift his trajectory as a man.

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His singing is punctuated by The Ready Set’s soulful serenading in the chorus, which on the surface might be the poppy cosmetic hook that puts the song over the top in terms of memorability (at least from a marketing standpoint), but is in fact one its most essential layers within an emotive web of poetry skewed with provocative instrumental might. I was thrilled at the opportunity to review this single and fell in love with every sonic stitch of audio that I heard. 

The relationship between the drum track and the vocals of both Little Hurt and The Ready Set is one of great unorthodoxy, in that the percussion – from the second that we press play – is shadowing the execution of the lyrical content. On paper, it’s muted standing in the mix might seem like a poor decision on the part of producers, but on the contrary, I find it to be one of the most interesting and fundamentally inventive concepts I’ve had the pleasure of breaking down in recent memory.

Everything, starting with the drums, is chasing after the wicked verses that Little Hurt is throttling through the melodies of the bass and its melodic counterparts in the master mix, and it’s only when he pulls back and lets The Ready Set take the reins in the chorus that the rest of the music (again, starting with the drums) is able to catch up. This yields a sense of urgency that emphasizes the direness of his words, and moreover, encourages us to put ourselves in his shoes. 

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Endearing, honest, and authentic from top to bottom, Little Hurt’s latest single is a stellar offering from two performers that have my attention at the moment. Little Hurt has been garnering a lot of praise for this song, and something tells me that if it’s just a taste of what his upcoming output is going to look and sound like, we’re going to be talking about his work all year long.

2023 hasn’t even started, but I would recommend that anyone who digs sharply constructed pop music that bears an important message as well as intoxicating beats that could soundtrack any sort of day or mood give this song the spin that it’s begging to receive. It might not be the only awesome material that we can look forward to next year, but it is an early standout and a prime exhibition of Little Hurt’s amazing abilities as a solo musician and as a top-level collaborator. 

Garth Thomas