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Music Review: 'Jump' by Cythia Erivo

For your consideration, Best Original Song 'Jump' from the 'Step' soundtrack.

By Sean PatrickPublished 7 years ago 3 min read

It’s awards season in Hollywood and with that I am being inundated with potential nominees across the spectrum. As a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, I have a lot of things to wade through this year and that includes nominees in our original music categories. Today, I received a copy of an original single from the recently released documentary Step. The song is called "Jump" and it was written and produced by music legend Raphael Saddiq and co-written by Taura Stinson and Laura Karpman and sung by Cynthia Erivo.

"Jump" is an emotional ballad that mirrors the challenges met by the young women profiled in the documentary. Step tells the story of the senior year of a group of young women from Baltimore, Maryland who are part of a Step Dance group. This isn’t just any step group however, the Lethal Ladies are from the very first graduating class of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, a charter school with the goal of sending every graduate on to college after graduation.

The stakes of the documentary are high as are the emotions the documentary evokes and that is a lot to capture in a single. Cynthia Erivo proves more than up to the challenge. "Jump" is a remarkably emotional and inspiring ballad that, when paired with the story of the documentary for which it was created, becomes something more than merely emotional. With a gospel chorus, lovely strings, and a strong piano at her back, Erivo’s voice reaches glorious heights.

I was prepared to write the song off as just another inspirational ballad when I first listened to it. Then I listened to the song several more times with the story of the documentary in the back of my head and the song began to take on new layers of emotion and inspiration. You’ve certainly heard songs like "Jump" before but there is something else in the production of "Jump" that occurs to you the more time you spend with it. The passion in Erivo’s voice takes on a whole other layer when you lay it alongside the powerful story of Step.

The Lethal Ladies are the result of one of the most remarkable experiments in modern educational history, an all-women’s leadership school for High School women from predominantly black neighborhoods. This being Baltimore, the inner city that inspired the HBO series The Wire, the challenges these young women are overcoming are remarkable, poverty, violence, drugs, gangs, everything would seem to be against them and yet the documentary and their dance is full of remarkable joy.

When "Jump" reaches its crescendo, when the chorus steps to the front and Erivo lays back for a moment, the emotion deepens. Then the song slows for a moment to bring Erivo back in in a low tone that slowly rises and begins to carry us toward the final chorus. Again, we’ve heard songs like this before but there is something in the strength of Erivo’s voice and the femininity of her lilting tone and remarkable crescendos that captures the same kind of strength that it must take these young girls to get where they are going, a journey that is only beginning as the documentary begins.

"Jump" may be the first of many original songs I will have to consider this awards season but as it is, it’s undoubtedly a favorite for my ballot as of right now. Raphael Saddiq is a remarkable composer, he and Laura Karpman also produced the film score of Step, and Cynthia Erivo’s voice will not be leaving my mind anytime soon. If you can, be sure to catch Step this awards season and when you hear "Jump" just imagine these joyous, brilliant young women from Baltimore as you listen to it and then hold back the tears if you can.

song reviews

About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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