The week in headlines: Bazzi, Tinashe, & Kali Uchis: Three Distinct Visions Of R&B As Pop, Yodel Boy Performed At Coachella, Taylor Swift Dumb, Toys R Us Has Raves Now, Joyride Is Finally Here, and Jon Daly Made A Lil Xan Diss Track.
The week in Cardi B headlines: Cardi B Is Our New Overlord, Cardi B Is Only Making $70K Per Coachella Set, Cardi B Is Definitely Pregnant, OK?, Nicki Minaj Has New Music Out And Shit To Say About Cardi B, and Cardi B Should Just Host The Tonight Show.
Dive into the five best songs of the week below.
Steven Tyler has a writing credit on “PYNK.” This feels wrong. And yet Monaé’s song really does have more than a few melodic and lyrical things in common with Aerosmith’s 1997 single “Pink.” So consider that a sign of Monaé’s superpowers at work: She can take a song from the exact moment that the world stopped giving a fuck about Aerosmith as anything other than an asteroid-movie power-ballad delivery system, a song mostly remembered for the upsetting CGI in the video, and she can turn it into something magical. Both “PYNK” and “Pink” could be interpreted as love songs to the vagina, but that’s something that’s necessarily going to sound different coming from Monaé and Tyler. And rather than stale blooz-rock, Monaé invests the song with graceful cotton-candy pop canniness. There’s a lot going on in “PYNK” — the gleaming guitar-crunch, the Princely falsettos, the Grimes backing harmonies, the insinuating synth-bleeps, the ribcage-rattling 808 hits. And yet Monaé makes it all sound as effortless as breathing. She’s back in the saddle again. –Tom
At a certain point, you can’t go any bigger or higher. For more than a decade now, Florence + The Machine have been taking elusive, druidic melodies and blowing them up into truly gigantic arena-ready refrains, powered by Florence Welch’s truly gigantic voice. So when she returned with a track called “Sky Full Of Song,” it’d stand to reason that it would have all the customary bombast we associate with Florence’s key tracks.
Now, it would be real shock if Florence + The Machine’s next album has none of that. But “Sky Full Of Song,” presumably its lead single, is a different beast. Extremely sparse by her standards, “Sky Full Of Song” is primarily built on a calm string and piano arrangement that hangs in the background. It’s a showcase for Welch’s voice; every Florence + The Machine song is, of course, but usually she’s the loudest piece of thunder in a storm. Instead, she’s the sole focus of“Sky Full Of Song,” allowing her to be subtler and more meditative. The result is not only a gorgeous preview of Florence’s next phase, but also a necessary counterbalance — after bottling Florence + The Machine’s energy up on “Sky Full Of Song,” it’ll be that much louder the next time they unleash it. –Ryan
As I write this, it is approaching 80 degrees in New York City after snowing like, a week ago. Right around the corner are the kind of days where this city gets so humid you’ll feel like you’re suffocating, the kind of days where I’ll leave work and it’ll seem as if the lights of Times Square are wavering like a desert mirage. Gang Gang Dance’s new song “Lotus” is perfect for those kinds of days. It sounds like them.
“Lotus” is the type of song built from little vaporous elements that somehow come together into a whole, like the band members are coaxing them out of the air itself. The key facets are, naturally, Lizzi Bougatsos’ elusive vocals and that woozy main synth part. It’s the kind of track that almost sounds more like someone’s casting a spell than performing music, it too working like a mirage — something beautiful beckoning you forward but staying just out of reach, prepared to vanish just as soon as you think you know what’s going on. –Ryan
On her new The Long Sleep EP, Jenny Hval leans into instinct, less concerned with conceptual meaning and more so with how feelings can be made to mean something bigger. “Spells” is about mood and the composition of mood, a rumination on the process of creation itself. Through its swirling six minutes, the Norwegian artist adds and subtracts, looks for the hidden key. “You’re lost in the rhythms, exorcising everything by typing into nothing,” she sings. Over-intellectualization can ruin what is so magical about music: It’s ability to make you feel something, viscerally and wholly and without even knowing exactly why you’re feeling it. That’s what “Spells” aims to do, and it more than succeeds. –James
Every summer in New York has its song. Last year, it was “Wild Thoughts,” the year before that it was “Panda.” It’s whatever hook loops on endlessly at your local bodega, the bass that bumps out of a car as it swerves past you, the inescapable chorus drifting through your open window from a neighbor’s backyard. It’s the one that comes on the radio like clockwork and you know all of the words simply because you cannot not know them. Cardi B’s “I Like It” needs to be That Song.
“I Like It Like That” was released in 1967 by the Puerto Rican boogaloo band leader Pete Rodriguez. Like Cardi B, he was born in the Bronx, and the track’s sampled chorus drives Cardi’s Latin trap collaboration with reggaeton singers Bad Bunny and J Balvin. While all three MCs take up space on “I Like It,” and neither J Balvin nor Bunny B are relegated to featured artist in the credits, this is unmistakably a song Cardi runs. “Like cardio,” she explains to any listener who may be unclear as the beat drops out for a second.
There are many fun songs on Invasion Of Privacy, an album overrun with quips and disses and clever turns-of-phrase, but “I Like It” isn’t just fun. It’s a party — the kind of song that will sound so, so good when it’s 90-plus degrees out and you’ve got swamp crotch and everything smells like a mixture of gasoline and piled up garbage and human sweat. There’s nothing romantic about any of those odors, but they’re going to be a lot more tolerable when you’re listening to Cardi rap about riding through the Diamond District in a Jag, or eating halal while driving a Lam’. (The idea being that you, too, can eat halal, though the Lam’ may be a pipe dream.) This is like the 2018 equivalent of “My Favorite Things,” and while the production on “I Like It” tips its hat to a New York of the past, the heavy beat, the skittering snare, the Cardi B in all her glory sound like right here right now. It’s gotta be inescapable. –Gabriela