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Chlöe, 'Have Mercy'

It's fun when an artist turns what others have called out as flaws into elements of empowerment. The debut solo single from Chlöe – half of the Beyoncé-mentored, industry-beloved sister group Chloe x Halle – does just that. A pristine-voiced, technically brilliant ingenue who, at 23, is publicly evolving from sweet and neat adolescence into erotically expressive adulthood, Chloe Bailey has endured recent callouts for her online dance moves and unabashed booty positivity. "Have Mercy" puts her fully in charge of that Laffy Taffy with lyrics that have her flossing like a rapper ("It's on purpose, I'm doing it big") over a cleverly manipulated sample from the Jersey-to-Baltimore club hit "Girls Off the Chain."

The video for "Have Mercy" further proves what a good student Chlöe's always been. The latest entry in the current spate of '90steengenreculture reference fests, it shows Chlöe, whose dance moves might cause Normani to sweat, presiding over a sorority house full of siren-likegorgons who – in a sweet flip of horrifically common frat party #metoo narratives – turn their slack-jawed lettermen boy toys to stone.House of Deréon matriarch Tina Knowles-Lawson cameos as an elder daemon, but the real presiding spirit here is Aaliyah, whoseQueen of the Damned movie-star turn Chlöe respectfully and ardently invokes.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.