A passable collection of pop songs that fails to expand upon the universe of Doja Cat
Alex Rigotti
14:46 25th June 2021

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Spend a few minutes on TikTok, and you'll find it impossible to escape the unmistakeable sound of Doja Cat’s voice. The ‘Streets’ challenge asks users to post their silhouettes against a red backdrop, accompanied by the silky, sultry vocals Doja. On other tracks such as ‘Tia Tamera’, users lip sync to her boasting "Do you know who the fuck you’re talking to?" in her distinctive gritty, in-your-face tone. Her second studio album, Planet Her, should have perfectly encapsulated these many oddities of Doja Cat, from her sense of humour to her clever lyricism. Unfortunately, Planet Her fails to expand upon the universe of Doja Cat. 

The album is at its strongest when it understands how to mediate between these two sides of Doja’s voice. Hit single ‘Kiss Me More’ is the perfect example of this, pairing her up with neo-soul starlet SZA as she switches from soft femininity to confident propositioning against an infectious disco backdrop. Similarly, ‘I Don’t Do Drugs’ featuring Ariana Grande is a charming song about resisting an addictive person, balancing Doja’s whispery vocals about her attraction with her more assertive tone in the prechorus. Ariana Grande follows suit with a catchy rap-sung verse where her lover "got me purrin’ like Doja Cat.". The Afrobeats-inspired ‘Woman’ is a killer album opener which sees Doja seduce her man on the chorus before launching into an explosive second verse about what women can be. It’s not exactly going to inspire fifth wave feminism, but the instrumentation is an exciting new side of Doja that I wish she leaned into more. 

Unfortunately, the album overestimates Doja’s singing capabilities at times, giving her forgettable hooks where her voice isn’t interesting enough to support it. The arpeggiated riff in ‘Alone’ hints towards a catchy yet intimate track, but the laboured, breathy delivery on the chorus muffles the lyrics and drags the pace of the song. ‘Love To Dream’ features some of Doja’s best, most delicate vocals on the verses, but her performance on the pre-chorus in comparison is boring. There are also points where the album fails to deliver on the witty, unabashed lyricism Doja is beloved for. ‘Get Into It’ is a lot of fun to listen to, but lines like "Call him Ed Sheeran, he in love with my body" and "Call your mama and your papa/Like I’m finna take your dadda" are shockingly lazy. ‘Imagine’ presents the most opportunity for Doja to really expand on her artistic and personal vision, but she doesn’t go far enough with braggadocio, instead presenting a pedestrian idea of what she’d do with her wealth. 

One of the problems with Planet Her is that its marketing has relied more heavily on Doja’s aesthetic vision compared to her musical ideas. ‘You Right’, the latest single released, references the pastel colour palette and flowing fabrics of the ‘Kiss Me More’ video with the urban grittiness of ‘Need To Know’ in its classical Greek buildings and clothes. Doja’s music video is more memorable than the music itself; although it’s a fantastic song about forbidden longing featuring a killer verse from The Weeknd, it’s also not the futuristic, feminine vision of pop that the album has been promising. 

Planet Her could have really solidified the sound and image of Doja Cat. Some fans may argue that this album brings versatility in its sound, and to some degree, the album centres itself around establishing Doja’s voice to allow more flexibility in its instrumentation. However, this ‘versatility’ is more indicative of Doja’s indecisiveness in her musical identity. Planet Her is a passable collection of pop songs, but as a part of the Doja Cat universe, it’s unrepresentative of her bold, charismatic personality. This album knows where it wants to start, but it doesn’t quite know where it wants to go. 

Planet Her is out now.

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Photo: Press