Night Shades

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Night Shades
Studio album by Cobra Starship
Released August 30, 2011 (US)
October 28, 2011 (UK)[1]
Length 39:32
Label Warner Bros., Fueled by Ramen, Decaydance
Cobra Starship chronology
Hot Mess
(2009)Hot Mess2009
Night Shades
Singles from Night Shades
  1. "You Make Me Feel...[2]"
    Released: May 10, 2011
  2. "Middle Finger[3]"
    Released: January 3, 2012
  3. "#1Nite (One Night)[4]"
    Released: May 15, 2012

Night Shades is the fourth and final studio album by Cobra Starship, being released through Fueled by Ramen and Decaydance Records on August 29, 2011. The album is the follow-up to 2009's Hot Mess. The first single from the album, "You Make Me Feel...", features singer Sabi and was released on May 10, 2011. A music video has been created for it. The full album was made available to stream for free on their Facebook page prior to its release.

The album debuted at number 50 on the Billboard 200 with sales of 9,000 in its first week,[5] but plummeted to number 185 in its second week.[6] Cobra Starship played pre-show on MTV's 2011 Video Music Awards and following their performance, their single "You Make Me Feel..." reached the top 10 of the US Billboard Hot 100 to become their second top 10 hit at number seven.[7] The band were the opening act for Justin Bieber in October through South America.[8] The third single "#1Night" has sold more than 91,000 downloads to date 2013.[9]


The group's third album, Hot Mess, released in 2009 by Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen, debuted at number four on the Billboard 200. It was powered by the smash lead single, "Good Girls Go Bad", which featured Gossip Girl actress Leighton Meester and peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 with more than 2 million copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[10] After the success, Cobra Starship frontman Gabe Saporta said of the aftermath of Hot Mess: "That caused me to lose my girlfriend, who I had been with since before Cobra started."[10]

The band started writing Night Shades in September 2010, but during these initial sessions, Saporta wasn't happy with what they were coming up with. "We had a lot of songs that just felt uninspired to me," he says. "It felt like I was just doing it to do it, because that's what we do, we're a band." He confessed that his solution for inspiration was embarking on what he describes as a "spiritual detox" in South America. "I went on this, like, pretty crazy... I don't know if you call it a retreat, but I lived in a little house in the forest in Brazil, and all I ate was rice for 10 days."[11]

In the end, the trip gave Saporta "clarity" and made him feel "rejuvenated"—two things he needed to survive the studio mishaps Cobra Starship experienced after he returned. First, the band set up shop in an abandoned floor of a building owned by a friend's family—but two weeks into recording, they were unexpectedly met by a demolition crew. Their next attempt at setting up studio space unwittingly ended up being adjacent to a place rented by a masseuse. Finally, the band found a home in a converted storage space on the ground floor of Saporta's building.[11]

Once the band settled into their permanent digs, Saporta started delving into the issues he started dissecting in South America—and found a way to address them from a unique perspective. "When I was writing in September, the problem was [that] it was either uninspired or it was really depressing," he explains. "It was about the fact that I lost the love of my life. As much as I need to deal with that, I don't think the whole world needs to deal with that. It's very self-serving just for me to make a record for that. If I would have just written that without taking my spiritual detox in the jungle, we would have had a record that would've just been that."[11]

Speaking of Night Shades, Saporta commented, "This record might be the most commercial record, but also our most honest." Fueled by Ramen president John Janick was quoted as saying, "[Cobra Starship] delivered an album that has the Cobra sound but delivers those radio records" and thought that "there are multiple singles on [the] album."[8]

During an interview with Alicia Fiorletta from The Aquarium, Alex Suarez commented about the album:

"I think we've massaged our writing process a whole lot more. Basically, we started writing this album a long time ago. Ryland and myself would get together to make some songs, then we'd pass it off to Gabe and then he would work on some lyrical concepts and then we would demo it. So we get a huge barrel of songs put together and then he picks the best ones to write off of until it just dwindles down. This time around, we got our own studio space, basically. Ryland and I would go in and produce the final tracks during the day and Gabe would go in at night and track vocals, so we'd sort of tag-team them. Then we also would use our own little home studio set up and do a lot of the production stuff there."[12]

Music and production[edit]

Saporta and the band worked with multiple producers; he confirmed Kara DioGuardi (who co-produced the band's 2009 hit "Good Girls Go Bad") and OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder have been collaborators. As for current inspirations, Saporta cites the "attitude toward making music" displayed by the kaleidoscopic electronic duo Major Lazer—a colorful, fun project which refuses to be pigeonholed by genres.[11]

"[Night Shades] definitely has something for everyone. For me personally, I think we're at the point where people listen to mixes much more than they actually listen to full albums. I kind of want to make records that feel like they're mixtapes."

The 11-song set ranges from club anthems like "#1Nite" to the reggae-tinted "Fool Like Me" and slow jam "Anything for Love".[10]

The dance music songs, "You Make Me Feel..." and "Don't Blame the World, It's the DJ's Fault" preserve the band's carefree atmosphere, but show marked production (and sonic) growth. "Stylistically, I think that we're definitely a band that's about making people have a good time, and we definitely want it to feel like a party," Saporta says. "But we also want to experiment with those sounds and make sure that it stays fresh, too."[11] "Fool Like Me" has a slower rhythm, electronic keyboard sounds, story-telling lyrics, and high-pitched accompaniment from The Plastiscines.[13] "Anything for Love" is a heavily synthesized nod to 1980s new wave.[14] Other songs on the album include "Disaster Boy" which offers a flashback to Hot Mess with its more alternative sounds and female vocals; "Don't Blame the World, It's the DJ's Fault" sounds similar to "Fool Like Me" with its slower rhythm; and "You Belong to Me", the upbeat ballad of the album.[13]

Promotional singles[edit]

For Night Shades the band engaged in a staged rollout, offering fans sneak peeks of the album through pre-release tracks or promotional singles starting with "#1Nite (One Night)" on July 26, "Fool Like Me" (featuring Plastiscines) on August 9 and "Middle Finger" (featuring Mac Miller) on August 23, available exclusively through iTunes, where fans were able to collect them with the option to complete the album on release date for the remainder of the album price.[8] "Don't Blame the World, It's the DJ's Fault" was released separately onto iTunes on August 29, 2011, the day of Night Shades's release.[15] Fueled by Ramen also had three separate preorder options: a premium bundle that includes a hoodie, T-shirt and white "night shades" for $75; a shirt/album package for $25; or a CD for $10.[8] "Middle Finger" later became the second official single. "#1Nite" featuring My Name Is Kay was released as the third official single in 2012.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (63/100)[16]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[17]
Alternative Press 2.5/5 stars[14]
Blogcritics (positive)[13]
Entertainment Weekly B-[18]
Metromix 3/5 stars[19]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[20]

Night Shades received generally favorable reviews from most music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 63, based on 4 reviews.[16] Tim Sendra from AllMusic gave to the album 3.5 out of 5 stars, declaring that "packing so many WTFs into one ten-song record is hardly fair, a bit reckless, and ultimately (amazingly) successful."[17] He also wrote that the album "is ridiculously fun and light, sure to spawn at least a couple of songs you’ll want to play at ironic dance parties, summer blowouts, and maybe even over headphones when you need some (mostly) mindless cheering up. What more could you want from Pop music?."[17] Megan Rozell from Blogcritics was positive, stating that the album "transforms Cobra Starship from an alternative band to a work-in-progress pop sensation," while declaring that the album "is worth the listen."[13]

Mikael Wood from Entertainment Weekly wrote that "the hooks here are undeniably sharp, but Cobra were more fun as party crashers than they are as VIPs."[18] Kirk Miller from Metromix wrote that "the record is full of Auto-Tune, club beats, some '80s retro-pop, guest stars galore, and a sinking feeling that the entire process was hatched by someone's marketing department."[19] Aubrey Welbers from Alternative Press wrote a mixed review, stating that the album "is a meticulously orchestrated dance record", and that "Cobra Starship have misplaced their unique tongue-in-cheek sensibilities; it feels like they’re killing time with safe, indistinguishable club tracks and pop ballads."[14]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "You Belong to Me" Cobra Starship Cobra Starship 4:35
2. "You Make Me Feel..." (featuring Sabi) Steve Mac, Ina Wroldsen Steve Mac 3:36
3. "#1Nite (One Night)" Cobra Starship, Ryan Tedder, Brent Kutzle Ryan Tedder, Brent Kutzle 3:39
4. "Fool Like Me" (featuring Plastiscines) Cobra Starship, Ari Levine, Albert Winkler, Grant Michaels, Adam Pallin Cobra Starship, Ari Levine, Grant Michaels, Adam Pallin 3:40
5. "Anything for Love" Cobra Starship Cobra Starship 4:11
6. "Middle Finger" (featuring Mac Miller) Cobra Starship, Tor Erik Hermansen, Mikkel S. Eriksen, Malcolm McCormick, Nate Walka Stargate 3:33
7. "Don't Blame the World, It's the DJ's Fault" Cobra Starship Cobra Starship 3:36
8. "Fucked in Love" Cobra Starship, Kara DioGuardi Cobra Starship 4:17
9. "Disaster Boy" Cobra Starship, Frank Staniszewski Cobra Starship 3:44
10. "Shwick" (featuring Jump Into the Gospel) Cobra Starship, Johanna Fateman, JD Samson, Jump Into the Gospel Cobra Starship 4:42
Total length: 39:32


Cobra Starship

Additional musicians


  1. ^ "Night Shades by Cobra Starship on Apple Music". Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "iTunes - Night Shades". iTunes. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Middle Finger (feat. Mac Miller) - Single". iTunes. Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Curious What the Single Artwork for #1Nite will look like?". May 10, 2012. Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  5. ^ Caulfield, Keith (September 7, 2011). "MTV VMAs Boost Adele, Beyonce on Billboard 200; RHCP Scores Big Debut". Billboard. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  6. ^ Billboard 200 Week of September 24, 2011 by Biggest Drop Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  7. ^ Adele's 'Someone Like You' Soars To No. 1 On Hot 100 Billboard Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d Cobra Starship Looks to Clean Up With 'Night Shades' Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  9. ^ "Hashtag Music: Do Twitter-Friendly Song Titles Make a #Difference?". Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  10. ^ a b c Vick, Megan (August 26, 2011). "Cobra Starship Looks to Clean Up With 'Night Shades'". Billboard. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d e "Alternative Press | Features | In the Studio: Cobra Starship". Alternative Press. May 18, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  12. ^ Fiorletta, Alicia (September 7, 2011). "Interview with Alex Suarez from Cobra Starship: A Future So Bright, They're Wearing (Night) Shades". The Aquarium. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d Rozel, Megan (August 29, 2011). "Album Review: Cobra Starship's Night Shades - Blogcritics Music". Blogcritics. Archived from the original on January 12, 2013. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b c Welbers, Aubrey (August 30, 2011). "Alternative Press | Reviews | Cobra Starship - Night Shades". Alternative Press. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ a b "Night Shades Reviews, Ratings, Credits and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c Sendra, Tim (August 30, 2011). "Night Shades - Cobra Starship". AllMusic. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Wood, Mikael (September 2, 2011). "Night Shades Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b Miller, Kirk (August 29, 2011). "Cobra Starship, 'Night Shades'". Metromix. Archived from the original on March 30, 2012. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  20. ^ Ganz, Caryn (August 30, 2011). "Night Shades". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 7, 2012.