Music has the ability to communicate a wide emotional spectrum, and this week’s 5 Best Songs do just that. Whether it be Porter Robinson giving us some anthemic waves of synth, or Cam’ron going in on a vintage Dipset banger, the emotions translated this week tend to be chill-inducing. Fucked Up growls about drinking sangria in the sun, Jeremih smoothes things out like a slick crooner should, and Cymbals Eat Guitars navel-gaze into the abyss of death while riding amusement park rides — this week is a bit of an emotional, well, roller coaster. Share your feelings in the comments.
Chapel Hill DJ/producer Porter Robinson has been a superstar in the EDM scene for years now, but even at age 21 he’s wise enough to see there are other worlds to conquer beyond his own expansive electro-house fiefdom. Whereas dominant DJs such as Avicii, Tiësto, and Calvin Harris crossed over to the pop charts by appealing to the lowest common denominator, early previews of Robinson’s Worlds suggest he’s opted to take a slightly artier route. Not excessively arty, mind you: “Sad Machine” splits the difference between M83’s astral splendor and Passion Pit’s hyperactive synth-pop, two of the surest bets in the global festival economy. The resulting behemoth beauty evokes the spirit of Grandaddy’s indie-geek odyssey The Sophtware Slump and its suicidal alcoholic android Jed, but Robinson’s ambitions are more grandiose, his aesthetic more crystalline, his emotional palette more euphorically hopeful. If the defining love story of our generation is going to be the romance between man and his machines, Robinson has just delivered the prom theme of the future.–Chris
Just Blaze isn’t the only producer with his name on this; he shares credit with A-Trak and Oliver. But it’s clear that all three of them are working to recapture the chaotic New York glamor-clangor that Just brought to classic past Cam collabs like “Oh Boy” and “I Really Mean It”. As for Cam, some of his metaphors are a bit tortured (“Call me 2 Chainz Drummond, my strokes are different”), and he isn’t quite bringing the towering arrogance he once had. But to hear him come close, over a beat like this, is to feel something stirring within your soul. It’s too bad that Cat Power is in the video instead of Hell Rell, and there’s something discomfiting about the whole enterprise — a faded rap star reliving old glories to bait the hipster audience who may have never quite understood him in the first place. But, I mean, I bit. And I did miss this. And it is still Dipset, you dipshits.–Tom
I’m not even going to pretend that I can make out everything Damian Abraham is shouting during “Sun Glass,” but the line that sticks with you is the gravelly shout of “Sangria! Feel the sun!” It sticks with you because that’s a lyric you’d expect to be to be sung with a reclined drawl from Destroyer, or maybe a with a faint sadness from Real Estate … not the guy who screamed his way through an 80 minute rock opera. But it’s there, along with a smoothly strummed acoustic guitar intro and backing vocals as shiny as the song’s name would suggest. Granted, Fucked Up have never been a traditional punk band, but “Sun Glass” is still an exciting surprise. They sound loosened up and relaxed, but don’t confuse that for slowing down. –Miles
You could dismiss Jeremih as another anonymous R&B hook-slinger — god knows, plenty have — but it would be a mistake. Jeremih’s greatest gift has always been the way his voice just glides, the graceful effortless elegance you’ll hear on a track like the 2009 single “I’mma Star.” On his recent collaborations with the bass music producer Shlohmo, he’s found adventurous new things to do with that voice, letting it soar over caverns of negative space and clusters of off-kilter drum programming. But the new single “Don’t Tell Em” does something different: It gives Jeremih a backing track just as graceful as that voice. Producer DJ Mustard does those things he does: The naggingly catchy space-bloop keyboard riff, the gentle propulsion, the impeccably placed fingersnaps. Jeremih pulls out his cassingle of Snap!’s “Rhythm Is A Dancer,” politely swipes the melody, and lets you know everything he’s going to do to your body. Meanwhile, YG is the exclamation point, adding a jolt of brusque, rough-hewn energy and forcing you to contemplate the mechanics of an underwater swimming-pool blowjob. Masterful work all around. –Tom
Bill Hicks once famously compared life to an amusement park ride, and it’s fitting that Cymbals Eat Guitars open Lose, their massive statement on loss and growing up, with a nostalgic trip to Six Flags in Jackson, NJ. The band lost a close friend and bandmate in 2007 during the early recordings of their debut and frontman Joseph D’Agostino begins their newest by locking you into the musical and emotional equivalent of the Kingda Ka. Singing about these rides, but implying much, much more, he takes you through disorientation, shock, terror and most painfully his feeling of no control as he snaps back from that simpler time with the devastating acceptance of “not a goddamn thing we could do to convince you.” The basic thrill of those rides comes from how they ever-so-briefly let you feel closer to death before letting you step comfortably back to normal life, an easy transition that never comes when losing a loved one. Yet by the climactic scream of “I DON’T WANNA DIE,” “Jackson” grows into one of the most life-affirming songs of the year and only the first speeding drop on a ride with many more to come. –Miles