Ellie Goulding is moving in a darker direction. After the despairing but sonically light “Flux” and the giddy “Sixteen,” the singer has teamed up with singer/rapper Juice WRLD on the anti-love song “Hate Me.” Though Goulding has delved into hip hop territory before, the track is her overt foray into the genre; over trap drum programming and minimal, enigmatic guitar work, the duo discuss the complicated feelings people have with previous partners. An intriguing topic in theory, “Hate Me” is a repetitive mess in practice.
The song begins on the heels of the chorus, with Goulding asking her former beau to confirm her negative impression of them. She continues her assault in the first verse, betting that they “don’t kiss [their new lover] with [their] eyes closed” and utilizing the done-to-death “there’s a thin line between all this love and hate.” Juice WRLD takes on the lackluster second verse; without a distinctive voice like his duet partner, his contributions fail to connect well within the song. A three-minute track, Goulding and/or Juice WRLD revisit the chorus four times, revealing just how uninspired and one-dimensional “Hate Me” really is.