There was a pretty significant imbalance in this week’s 5 Best Songs. The bottom 3/5 of this list was the subject of significant debate, with lots of candidates receiving low percentages of overall votes — all worthy, mind you, but none achieving consensus; there were numerous alternate candidates that could have appeared in those spots without much controversy or complaint. The top two spots, meanwhile, were more or less locked on 10:30 AM, Tuesday morning, the only question being who got the gold and who the silver. It was a dead heat, a photo finish, and what you see below you is how the picture looked to us when it came into focus. How’s it look to you?
The song title is a bit of a misnomer. Giorgio Moroder doesn’t need a theme because everything Giorgio Moroder does is a theme. He’s been working from the same basic rhythmic template since before most of us were alive, but that template has rewired pop-music consciousness again and again. If you ever see Moroder DJ (something I can’t recommend highly enough), it’s staggering to hear all that laid out in front of you — “Call Me” into “Hot Stuff” into “The Neverending Story.” And with this new track, he once again taps deep into a style that’s come to infect the entire planet so many times over. The lush, percolating, euphorically insistent “Giorgio’s Theme” could’ve been done note-for-note in 1979, but it still feels absolutely vital. –Tom
When Death Grips first dropped Exmilitary in 2011, one of the only things comparable to its sound was the Bug, a moniker used by producer Kevin Martin under which he created some of the most aggressive and warlike electronic music of the time. At that point it was several years after the Bug’s brilliant album, London Zoo, but this crazy trio carried that sound forward to great success. And, as if that chaotic rattle summoned him back, Kmart announced a new album and a collaboration with Death Grips — a completely perfect combination. That was more than two years ago. It’s long enough for most people to have forgotten about it, yet this week Martin dropped in from out of nowhere with “Fuck A Bitch,” a Death Grips collaboration that upstaged Death Grips’ own surprise album, which also dropped this week. Though Martin’s production is just as heavy and terrifying as anything on Money Store or Government Plates, his dubby grooves slide and clang in the unmistakable way of the Bug. It’s a stunning return from this sorely missed producer, and a reminder that while Death Grips have been pushing themselves further and further into abstraction, they can still make something this focused. –Miles
With My Krazy Life, YG offered up a definitive text for this latest era in West Coast rap. His hardscrabble day-in-the-life gangster rap narratives bobbed energetically through the empty space between DJ Mustard’s minimal snaps, colorful graffiti tags on a plain white canvas. But YG’s flow is utilitarian. He happened to get caught up in Mustard’s ratchet revolution, but he’s just as adept at rhyming over the sounds of the old West Coast — quite literally, considering Cookin Soul’s slow-riding production samples 2Pac on the hook. “Block Party” couldn’t be a more pointed title, and its arrival couldn’t have been timed more strategically. Close down the street, drag your grill into the front yard and let’s do this. –Chris
Nobody in indie rock can make a song strut the way Spoon do. “Rent I Pay” is less song and more groove, but holy shit, what a groove. Ringing guitars working in rhythmic counterpoint, a sidelong drum-stomp, everything slashing against everything else but still working together to push things forward that much harder. Britt Daniel’s pinched snarl is right there in the pocket, snorting and cawing, a shot of pure arrogance in a genre that’s so often too mannered for its own good. After four years of absence, it’s like: Oh right, that’s how you do it. –Tom
In the almost-decade since 2005’s triumphant Twin Cinema, New Pornographers albums have not exactly been popping like they used to. “Brill Bruisers” suggests that after a pair of relatively muted LPs, our Canadian power-pop Super Friends might have found that sugar-rush swagger again. The titular reference to legendary competitive trad-pop songwriting hub the Brill Building is apt. “With the junkyard science to hang up and do a bang-up impression,” they’ve always provided us an amped-up answer to the pop classicists of yesteryear. But whereas Challengers and Together found the New Pornographers gradually embracing a maudlin, adult-contemporary breed of power-pop, “Brill Builders” is a return to joyous exultation in the round. May they always sound so bombastic. –Chris