After dominating 2020 with her #1 smash hit “Say So” and ushering in 2021 with the “34+35” remix and the resurgence of “Streets” thanks to the TikTok Silhouette Challenge, Doja Cat has officially launched the campaign for her next studio album. Titled Planet Her, the three-time Grammy nominee’s latest record is due sometime this year. For the first taste of the new album, Doja teamed up with SZA for the best pop song of 2021 so far: “Kiss Me More.”
Produced by Rogét Chahayed (“Vibez”; “Deep Reverence”) and Yeti Beats (“Tia Tamera”; “Mooo!”), “Kiss Me More” is a sugary sweet disco-influenced pop confection that is as flirty as it is an exaltation of feminine sensuality. The breezy track begins with delicate guitars before Doja enters with a breathy coo as she sings “and we cuddle, sure I do love it/But I need your lips on mine.” From there, the song morphs into one of the tightest pop hooks in the past year. Doja pulls off a rare feat with this hook (and all of “Kiss Me More”), she’s clearly building on the bubbly disco influences of “Say So,” but “Kiss Me More” never sounds like she is consciously attempting to replicate the sound, and thereby the success, of the song. Instead of one relatively lengthy and repetitive hook, Doja splits the hook into a chorus and pre-chorus. She then sprinkles mini hooks, like the “all on my tongue, I want it” chant, to add even more flavor to the chorus. In fact, “Kiss Me More” is highly likely to be lodged in your memory in at least three different ways because it is filled with hooks: the aforementioned track, the hook melody, the guitar riffs, etc. “Kiss Me More,” in short, sounds like summer. This is the kind of song you play with the windows rolled down as the wind kisses your face. The interpolation of Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” only intensifies the summer feel. Newton-John’s “Physical” has seen as musical resurgence recently, but because the overall sound of “Kiss Me More” veers away from 80s synthpop, it’s a smarter interpolation. As usual, Doja employs a nimble and animated flow for a rap verse dedicated to kissing in which she fits references to Snoop Dogg (“Taste breakfast, lunch, and gin and juice”) and the age-old advice to spell your name with your tongue while kissing (“Sign first, middle, last on the wisdom tooth”).
The greatest part of “Kiss Me More” is how seamlessly SZA fits on the track. It truly is beautiful to see two Black women who rose to prominence outside of mainstream pop so effortlessly dominate that space. Although SZA is practically incoherent for the majority of her verse, her mumbles combined with Doja’s slight vocal fry add different textures to the saccharine instrumental. As is common on SZA songs, she slides on the track like a rapper although she is singing the whole time. Her approach to “Kiss Me More” is reminiscent of the ways he acutely attacked the instrumental on “All The Stars.” She uses a smart combination of swagger and enjambment to make it all happen. The two stars’ voices fit well together, and their chemistry shines through on the track and in the excellent accompanying music video. Admittedly, “Kiss Me More” is a safe lead single. This doesn’t make the track any less great or any less enjoyable, but, knowing the vastness of Doja’s artistry, Planet Her is bound to sound a bit more left-field than this.