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The Best New Songs of May 2020, from the Dixie Chicks to JP Saxe
news.movim.eu / Time · Friday, 1 May, 2020 - 19:06 · 5 minutes
Spring rolls on, and while we may be forced to wait a bit longer to receive the gift of full new albums from artists like Lady Gaga, others have stepped in to fill the void and keep us both entertained and soothed. To kick off the month, JP Saxe, Julia Michaels and a long list of their artist friends—including Sam Smith , Alessia Cara and Jason Derulo —released a charity-focused version of their accidental pandemic anthem “If the World Was Ending.” Beyoncé jumps on Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage Remix” with a much-needed burst of confident energy. The Dixie Chicks satisfy fans waiting on their full-length album with “Julianna Calms Down.” JoJo makes a case for being all grown up on Good to Know . And Remi Wolf provides some fresh disco with “Photo ID.”
“If the World Was Ending,” JP Saxe, Julia Michaels and Friends
“If the world was ending, you’d come over right?” Canadian singer-songwriter JP Saxe sings. “Would you love me for the hell of it? All our fears would be irrelevant.” It’s a catchy snippet from “If the World Was Ending,” his tender ballad with pop favorite Julia Michaels , originally released in October. But well into the second month of COVID-19’s catastrophic impacts , it’s taken on new meaning. On Thursday, Saxe and Michaels shared a fresh version that tapped the talents of artists including Niall Horan , Kesha , Sam Smith and Jason Derulo , blending them into a mega-mix with all proceeds going towards Doctors Without Borders.
“As an artist, you hope that what comes from the most personal parts of your life will attach itself to some sort of cultural relevance,” Saxe told TIME back in April. “But this is certainly not what I had imagined!” Saxe and Michaels aren’t the first artists to ask fellow stars to jump in with musical contributions; Gal Gadot’s much maligned “Imagine” tribute came out in late March, with a similarly lo-fi concept. But where that star-studded collaboration read the room wrong, this one feels better suited to its moment.
First, there’s the assembled talent, an eclectic, global set of singers ( Zara Larsson , Korean band The Rose, H.E.R., Fletcher , Camilo). Add to that a small thrill in hearing unembellished vocals from the likes of Alessia Cara and Keith Urban. (Some of the split-screen harmony pairings are a delight.) Then there’s the hopeless bittersweetness of the song itself, ever more real as isolation drags on. “W e were imagining a hypothetical situation,” Saxe laughs about writing the song. The original release is both Saxe’s and Michaels’ most popular song on Spotify, streamed over 350 million times. Meanwhile on social media, listeners co-opted many of its keenly relatable lyrics to express their own concern and frustration during the pandemic. “ If the song can accompany the kind of gratitude we feel for our medical professionals , I’m humbled and honored by that,” Saxe says.
“Savage Remix,” Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyoncé
Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion ‘s “Savage,” off of her March EP Suga , was already a groovy jam with a popular dance challenge to go accompany it. But adding Beyoncé, another artist who calls Houston home, was a magical move for the remix. Bey lays down a few verses so full of attitude and of-the-moment pop culture references (“Hips tik tok when I dance/ On that Demon Time, she might start an OnlyFans”) that you’d be easily forgiven for believing rap was her primary calling. The original “Savage” was a stylish tune with Megan’s signature playful wordplay; the delightfully unfiltered remix with Beyoncé’s low-register additions works very well as yet another reminder that a woman’s place is absolutely in hip-hop. If Megan pioneered last year’s Hot Girl Summer , you can bet Savage Summer is now on its way. The cherry on top: proceeds from the single are headed to a Houston charity, Bread of Life, that provides meals to local families in need.
“Julianna Calm Down,” Dixie Chicks
The beloved country trio’s full new album Gaslighter is delayed indefinitely. Thank goodness “Julianna Calm Down” is out today to tide us over. Like a friend talking you through a bad night, Natalie Maines starts things off by calling out women’s names (Julianna is member Emily Strayer’s daughter) with lines of apt advice—and the brilliant, constant reminder to “breathe.” “I guess this is the time to remind you, sometimes what’s going through your head is just a temporary situation, and light will soon be shed,” she soothes. “Just put on your best shoes, and strut the f-ck around like you’ve got nothing to lose.” It’s a singsong track that starts out with a spare organ backing and eventually opens up, with finger-picked guitar, bluegrass twang and a lingering sweetness.
“Comeback,” JoJo feat. Tory Lanez and 30 Roc
You have to imagine JoJo is pretty tired of retelling her own history in the music business: first platinum hit at the tender age of 13 with “Leave (Get Out)” followed by a decade of label purgatory and struggle for creative autonomy. (She even re-recorded her first two albums recently , in order to be able to release them on streaming services.) Ever since her 2016 return with Mad Love , JoJo has been working hard to prove she’s much more than a young pop prodigy. And on new album Good to Know, she’s clearly moved on. Her new single “Comeback” is sultry and smoky, a slip of velvety R&B. JoJo has always had a voice that was mature beyond her years; finally, her music has caught up.
“Photo ID,” Remi Wolf
Bursting with funk and fun, “Photo ID” just feels like better days. L.A.-based rising artist Remi Wolf has a playfulness that won’t quit, while her disco sensibility makes you want to play the music on an endless loop. Wolf has an upcoming debut EP in the works for the summer, and it’s something of a soundtrack for an alternate universe: “Lit in line, smile for the photo ID / Inside, that’s where we can be free,” she sings—oh, to be in line for the club these days! Still, her whimsical production twists might just help conjure up that carefree spirit wherever you are, even if in “Photo ID” she’s got a jealous side to manage, too.
The Best Songs of April 2020, From Drake to Frank Ocean
news.movim.eu / Time · Wednesday, 8 April, 2020 - 16:34 · 2 minutes
One thing we can always count on even in uncertain times: Drake . The rap star returns with “Toosie Slide” this month, while Frank Ocean offers up a pair of vulnerable acoustic songs, Troye Sivan feeds his fans with “Take Yourself Home,” the 1975 partner up with Phoebe Bridgers for a tender duet and pop duo Cherryade give us something to dance to, if we’re so inclined. Here are the best songs of April 2020 so far.
“Take Yourself Home,” Troye Sivan
It’s been a couple years since Troye Sivan released the shimmering pop project that was 2018’s Bloom . “Take Yourself Home,” his first single since then, sees him working with friend and collaborator Leland on a song that is sweet and yearning, touching on the existential search for one’s place in the world—until its late-breaking switch to a house beat. And why not? Once you are ensconced in the safety of your home, Sivan seems to suggest, you might as well enjoy it.
“Toosie Slide,” Drake
You might call it selling out, or you might just call it understanding the market and cleverly crafting music meant for an already captive audience: Drake’s “Toosie Slide” is not just a new song, but a pre-engineered TikTok hit. The Canadian rapper seeded it out to influential viral stars in advance, letting them create dance videos—that vector of inevitable spread—before putting out the track itself. By the time of its debut in early April, “Toosie Slide” already had a clear path to charting success. A subtle instrumental riff underlies its trap beat, but it’s the catchy dance instructions that will likely stick: “Right foot up, left foot slide.” Simple, yet effective.
“Cayendo,” Frank Ocean
When Frank Ocean chooses to release new music, he does so on his own schedule and according to his own strategy. And it’s always a gift. “Cayendo” is one of two new acoustic songs (the other is “Dear April”) that the innovative R&B artist set loose on the world in April via streaming; the pair also came out on vinyl, with B-side remixes. “Cayendo” is a tender, introspective piece of signature Ocean music, with the added layer of Spanish lyrics. “Cayendo” means “falling”—and Ocean seems to know that while he isn’t assured a soft landing, he remains committed to the fall itself.
“Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America,” The 1975 & Phoebe Bridgers
The 1975 can sound like a lot of different things: pop, rock, experimental alt-jazz. “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America,” from their upcoming May album Notes on a Conditional Form , strips back to the basics: just singer and frontman Matty Healy in a duet with indie folk-rocker Phoebe Bridgers. (Yes, there are some background horns to remind us it’s a 1975 song, but they are subtle.) It’s slow, sweet and healing, not asking for anything other than to sink into it and listen.
“I Love Me,” Cherryade
It can be hard to muster up a festive mood right now, but Cherryade is determined to help us get there. The indie pop duo out of the U.K. makes unabashed dance tunes—or at least, their latest project Sinking Ship is an upbeat cluster of bops, although they’ve said they’ll be returning to “dark, messed up” material soon enough. “I Love Me” is bouncy and bright, with a hand-clap beat and cheeky tone. If you need a change of pace from this spring’s challenges, Cherryade has you covered.
The 5 Best New Songs of the Week, from The Weeknd to Perfume Genius
news.movim.eu / Time · Tuesday, 24 March, 2020 - 01:30 · 4 minutes
The world right now feels topsy-turvy, filled with cancellations , closures and postponements. But for musicians, the new music releases — if not the shows themselves — must go on. Luckily, there’s one medium that anyone with an internet connection can access without walking out the front door. Tune in to The Weeknd ‘s new album After Hours for his signature pensive mood, elevated with new sonic textures. Check out Jackson Wang’s mix of Chinese tales and pop-electronic production on “100 Ways.” Vibe to Giolì & Assia’s electronic groove on the new “Habibi,” or watch their weekend livestream DJ session. Live it up with Mel C’s return on the disco-pop confection that is “Who I Am.” And revel in the pain of a crush with Perfume Genius on “On the Floor.”
“Alone Again,” The Weeknd
Here is quarantine music: moody, pensive, melancholy (as is The Weeknd’s style) and eminently introspective — and solitary. “Together we’re alone,” he sighs, and repeats. “I don’t know if I can be alone again.” The background is a layered mix of whispered electronic echoes and surreal, glittering beats with a trap heart; it’s like the song is always just about to get started, but never quite launches. That’s actually a good thing, because Abel Tesfaye revels in uncertainty and a kind of discontent. “Alone Again” is the first track off his new album After Hours , and it’s where he finds the most fresh sonic territory to explore.
“100 Ways,” Jackson Wang
Jackson Wang, of K-pop group GOT7, is positioning himself as one of the category’s breakout solo stars; his last solo album Mirrors broke through on the Billboard charts, his media presence has been refreshingly open, helping him create a fandom all his own — and his new song “100 Ways” is a pulsing electronic track with minor-key flutes that gives him a distinctive sound, too. Wang sings in English about being “the only one that you need” (the “100 Ways” can be construed as exit strategies to disentangle from a less-worthy rival), but there’s a deeper story: Wang, who’s Chinese, has said his character in the song is taken from an ancient Chinese tale about a love that transcends this lifetime. His take, however, feels thoroughly modern.
“Habibi,” Giolì & Assia
Electronic producers/singer-songwriters/musicians Giolì & Assia are Italian; they’ve been quarantined in Sicily for the last few weeks as they wait out the current global health crisis. But that hasn’t stopped them from releasing “Habibi,” their latest trance-inducing vibe track, which features Spanish and French lyrics and an Arabic instrumental influence. In other words, if you want to redefine “world music” for the next generation, it might sound a lot like what the forward-thinking duo are currently making. “Habibi” is laid-back but propulsive, an electronic song that asks for meditation and connection more than action. At the moment, that feels right. Even better: like many musicians who have had to cancel tours, they’ve decided to livestream sessions from their quarantine on YouTube. They used to broadcast these Diesis Live sessions from, say, the top of a volcano — but circumstances, for now, have changed.
“Who I Am,” Mel C
Yes, you read that right: this is a new single from Spice Girl Mel C. (You might remember her as Sporty Spice.) It’s pure disco-pop uplift, a bouncy confection destined for the dance floor but grounded in pathos. Mel C has released seven albums over her lengthy career, but “Who I Am” is a clear referendum on her own personal and career history; “I was lost in the ruins of who I thought I should be; I forgot I was human, I must set my body free,” she reflects as, in the music video, she explores a museum filled with displays of her own image. Pop stars are constantly grappling with image and persona, but with maturity comes the clarity to choose which of those selves to present. It looks like Mel C has made her choice.
“On the Floor,” Perfume Genius
Perfume Genius — the Seattle-based artist Mike Hadreas — has a way with shimmering, gentle alt-pop that teeters on the edge of pain. His last album, 2017’s No Shape , crept toward tentative joy, like a the delicate shoots of a plant in its infancy. “On the Floor,” the new single off his upcoming May album Set My Heart on Fire Immediately , is the next phase of growth: the stems are sturdy now, and he can play with having fun—musically, at least. The song is a bouncy bop of a tune with a sighing ’50s chorus. The lyrics are about an unrequited crush, however, and the physical discomfort of that solitary experience. “I shake, I promise every day to change, I cross out his name on the page,” he sings, wrestling with his feelings. It wouldn’t be Perfume Genius with the bitter to temper the sweet.