Camila Cabello can’t shake sophomore slump on flashy but flimsy ‘Don’t Go Yet’ 

Camila Cabello's new single cover
Epic Records/Courtesy

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Grade: 2.5/5.0

Reborn as a solo star, former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello became a household name in 2018 with the soaring popularity of her passionate, self-titled debut album. The extraordinary success of her Latin-music-influenced pop record, boosted by the notable earworm “Havana,” marked either a sign of promise or a strike of luck for Cabello. But considering her lackluster discography in subsequent years, the latter prospect appears to be more likely — and unfortunately, her latest single “Don’t Go Yet” adds to the accumulating evidence.

Released July 23, “Don’t Go Yet” is the lead single from Cabello’s upcoming third album Familia, which Cabello stated is inspired by “who you want to sit at the dinner table, get wine-drunk, & dance in the living room with.” Fittingly, listeners might need to get wine-drunk to fully enjoy this mediocre track: The song, though beaming and confident, leans into the most mechanical domains of Cabello’s artistry.

While the track does steadily improve throughout its runtime, “Don’t Go Yet” as a whole struggles to escape the dullness of Romance, her sophomore album. The record floundered as a flirtatious but ultimately forgettable venture, and Cabello’s single falls into the same snares. Playful and spunky, the track can only entertain for so long.

Considering how vibrant the song’s music video is — a colorful, flamboyant spiral of familial love and felicity — it’s disappointing that the song is so underwhelming. “Don’t Go Yet” flickers with firework sparks of promise, satisfying most with its chorus’s burst of much-needed joy. Though misguided in many ways, the track’s one clear consistency is its celebratory elation. Spirited dancehall and reggaeton influences help uplift Cabello’s self-assured delivery, and the singer’s return to her Latin roots is refreshing after Romance’s wearisome pop tropes.

While the song checks off the basics of a radio-playable song, the buzz of “Don’t Go Yet” fails to divert more major missteps: namely, Cabello’s vocal experimentation. Her first verse is tolerably nasal in a signature way, but it’s her second verse that makes the song difficult to redeem; she shifts from traditional singing to a whiny, tipsy flow that’s irritating instead of intoxicating. Perhaps the tone change was a well-intentioned creative choice, an attempt to imitate the wildness of a drunken night or establish showy nonchalance, but its inclusion only highlights her weak vocals.

In this same verse, Cabello lets the song’s stronger, more imaginative qualities slip into dullness. The artist imagines herself “in satin/ the room was platinum and gold” at first, dreamy and idealistic. Less than a minute later, this attractive imagery fades with Cabello slinkily singing that “I wore this dress for a lil’ drama” and calling “Baby, come to mama” in a painfully predictable rhyme.

Some relief does emerge after this shoddy verse. The song’s pleasant bridge embraces classic Latin instrumentation, and the merry ensemble chanting “No te vayas, quédate” (meaning “Don’t go, stay”) briefly melts the romantic atmosphere into a more familial, friendly one. The track concludes with a funky fade of various percussion, hinting at an after-party that seems more compelling than the main attraction.

Like its final few seconds, the song itself is little more than an ephemeral flash of fun, too fleeting and simple to be satisfying. The heart of “Don’t Go Yet” might just be its unintentionally appropriate title — the song functions not only as a hopeful plea to a late night lover, but also a futile solicitation to listeners.

Contact Taila Lee at [email protected].