Poring over the pop charts every day can be tedious and tiring. To begin with, I’m a rock man myself, and there’s not too much rock on the charts these days. Even the rock charts are filled with songs that aren’t actually rock, or songs from fifty years ago. That’s not a joke, either. There are four songs by The Beatles on the rock charts this week. Nothing against The Beatles (one was even “Come Together,” my favorite Beatles song), but we need a breath of fresh air to come and revitalize rock.
Lo and behold!, our rock saviors have descended upon us in the form of… Joe Jonas?! Yes, Joe Jonas-fronted band DNCE is the topic of discussion today, but don’t let the Jonas name trick you; this is basically an early Maroon 5 song, if Maroon 5 hadn’t been fronted by one of the worst vocalists of the generation.
I often feel that, when you hate a song, you do need to be able to explain why, while if you love a song, the “why” can often be indescribable. Such is not the case with “Cake by the Ocean.” It’s one of those songs that wouldn’t work if even one piece was out of place, but because they managed to get everything right, it plays out beautifully.
First, they chose to bring the bass into focus with one of the tightest basslines in pop music. As a bassist myself, I always enjoy when the instrument gets the chance to take the spotlight, but it definitely deserves the chance in this instance. It gives the song a funky flavor that really makes the song danceable. Then, they used the guitar as more of an accent instrument. In fact, the next time you listen to the song, look for the guitar. It doesn’t play a single chord until the bridge, instead allowing the bass to carry the entire first verse. Doing so allows the bassline to get engraved into your mind, letting it take over as the dominant while the guitar is content to be more subdued until the chorus punches in.
And let us not forget the drums. The drums perfectly match the bass, working in tandem to create one of the greatest rhythms of the year. I just… I love it all so much. I don’t even mind continuously playing the song while I write this article. I’m kinda half-dancing the whole time and looking like a moron. The beat is just such an earworm, I can’t help it.
And that’s without even mentioning the overwhelming presence of Joe Jonas. I was a Disney Channel kid, and I was a teenager while The Jonas Brothers were a mega-popular teeny-bopper band, so naturally I had quite a bit of contact with their music. I’m here to tell you, right now, that Joe was always the most talented brother. He has a voice with a wide range, allowing him to sing all kinds of songs and be amazing. His regular pitch is perfectly suited to this kind of rock, with a tone that’s suave but just a bit sleazy. When the chorus starts and he has to hit those higher notes, he’s perfectly capable of doing so.
The Following Paragraph is NSFW. All Sentences NSFW Will be Written in White, and Need Highlighting to be Read.
Lyrically, the song is just as metaphorically raunchy as the music it’s influenced by. There seems to be some sort of contention about what the song is about, so here’s my personal interpretation. This song is about a girl Joe likes that won’t do anything with him in bed. He’s talking to her, trying to convince her to “live dangerously” and “eat cake by the ocean,” which sounds like a euphemism for giving him a blow job, with lines like “eat icing off your hands” supporting this. Apparently, it could also mean the opposite, with him proposing she let him eat her out. Regardless, it’s all very well-written and conveys the sleazy mood of the song amazingly, while allowing some interpretation. There was no point in the song where I thought a line didn’t work, or thought it was completely stupid, which is pretty rare.
All in all, this song is one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had listening to pop music. It’s just a fun, danceable song with great musicians behind it, and a positively explosive performance by Joe Jonas. If you’re at all interested in music, you should definitely give this song a listen or fifty.
Genre: Pop-rock; funk; disco
Billboard Rank at Time of Writing: 41