In just three minutes, indie R&B singer Omar Apollo douses his new song, “Imagine U,” with a bumping beat and pure sex appeal. The single, released April 8, follows a series of tracks released in 2019 to kick off the year and finally satiate fans, especially after his latest EP, 2019’s Friends, skyrocketed him to international fame. Apollo has certainly kept his amassed fanbase’s attention, but for those looking for something with more depth, they won’t find much of it here.
“Imagine U” hooks listeners in as Apollo’s fingers audibly slide down guitar strings while he switches from chord to chord, a heavy backbeat and a simple, repeating synth progression. It’s a basic indie pop sound elevated by bass and distorted guitar, clearly the influence of record producer Kenny Beats, who collaborated with Apollo for this song. Beats is responsible for doing much of the heavy-lifting here, providing Apollo with a solid musical foundation to build upon. Unfortunately, Apollo just doesn’t.
The lyrics are painfully but expectedly shallow. At one point, Apollo sings, “You’re breakin’ up, my phone on two percent but you’re not too far from me.” This line follows one of the most contemporary themes found in indie music, but that’s the problem — it lacks the meaningfulness that isn’t often found in today’s music. In the chorus, Apollo sings in an auto-tuned voice, “Imagine you, imagine you/ Say that you love me.” The only upside to the lyrics is that they clearly convey the message Apollo intends: “Say that you love me.”
The auto-tune during the chorus and sprinkled throughout the song, however, feels unnecessary, but it still fits Apollo’s modern take on young, tumultuous love. One of the standout qualities Apollo brings to the table is his excellent voice, so there’s no reason to use auto-tune during parts when his voice could shine. He doesn’t overdo the vocal effects, but they still don’t add any value to the song.
Regardless, “Imagine U” maintains a sultry undertone for an otherwise summery love song. The track’s atmosphere is groovy and relatable, and it makes good use of strong drums, smooth synths and a basic but present guitar. There’s even a nice flourish of strings at the end, but the song could have used more guitar intricacy to add another layer of musical depth and showcase his talent.
“Imagine U” is reflective of most other indie songs out there, spewing lyrics of unrequited love and sticking to a basic but satisfying beat. The song misses the mark on revamping the overused recipe for indie love songs with a hint of crunchy guitar. It’s just not unique enough to put it above the rest.