Megan Thee Stallion had a banner year in 2019. Her Fever mixtape became the first female rap mixtape to debut in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200, and she scored hits with “Big Ole Freak,” “Hot Girl Summer,” and “Cash S**t.” Normani also had a stellar year that included her highly-successful Sam Smith duet, “Dancing with a Stranger,” and her debut solo single, “Motivation.” With these two stars quickly climbing the ranks of the music industry, it is only fitting that they introduce the soundtrack to Bird of Prey, the latest DC comic film that centers around Harley Quinn and other female superheroes in Gotham City.
The pair’s new collaboration, “Diamonds,” is their first song together and it features writing and production credits from Louis Bell and Tayla Parx, among others. The song mostly draws from a blend of boom-bap and bounce production elements (similar to Megan’s Queen & Slim soundtrack contribution, “Ride or Die”). Over a stuttering bassline that drips with reverb, Normani kicks off the song with a chorus that’s full of attitude and personality. She slurs some of her words slightly to really lean into the sassy character that she puts on for the song. The melody of the chorus isn’t particularly incredible, but it is catchy enough to signal a potential hit. On the other hand, Megan switches her flow about four of five times during her verses which results in an exhilarating listening experience. Meg has a certain allure in her rap delivery that demands your attention. It’s lucky that she has that because: 1) lyrically-speaking her verses aren’t really remarkable and 2) some of her flow switches result in her trying to messily rhyme ad-libs with the first word of the next line. She also does this annoying thing where she sometimes drags out her words to fill the bar which counterbalances the full effect of whatever punchline/metaphor she is trying to deliver.
Normani then returns on the pre-chorus which features an ascending melody that ultimately leads to a drop that is simply not big enough to really work. This isn’t a delivery a problem as much as it is a production problem. The pre-chorus builds beautifully, but the transition to the hook should have been much stronger to really impress. This is especially important because the hook is great; he “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” interpolation works very well! Finally, Normani’s bridge is the main highlight of the track, her flow is impressive and simply a joy to listen to.
Admittedly, “Diamonds” is underwhelming simply because both of these talented ladies are capable of so much more. That being said, it is just a soundtrack single. Obviously an original Miley-Ariana or Lana-Ariana collaboration will sound very different from “Don’t Call Me Angel.” Based on the teasers and trailer that we’ve seen from Birds of Prey so far, “Diamonds” seems to fit the tongue-in-cheek cockiness and swagger of the film. This isn’t going to make or break either lady’s debut album, but it does increase anticipation for a collaboration between the two that is independent of a film.