Every week the Stereogum staff chooses the five best new songs of the week (the eligibility period begins and ends Thursdays right before midnight). This week’s countdown is below, and you can listen to a playlist of all our 5 Best Songs on Spotify.
With all due respect to Jimmy Carter becoming the oldest living US president ever today, there was some big fucking news this week. We are finally, really, getting a new Sky Ferreira song next week. But while that is cause for some truly overwhelming excitement around these parts, there were also a lot of songs released this week. Dig into the five best below.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you/ I’m sorry that I made you cry/ Oh my, I didn’t want to hurt you/ I’m just a jealous guy.” That’s John Lennon singing on his Imagine album in 1971, lamenting but also excusing the damage wrought by his own possessiveness. He alludes to losing control, an admission with a wide range of interpretations given Lennon’s abusive history. Whatever he’s getting at, his lukewarm mea culpa feels especially gross in the context of a goopy piano ballad. In 2019, it’s ripe for skewering, and the shapeshifting UK ensemble Sorry are up to the task.
On Sorry’s “Jealous Guy,” Asha Lorenz performs a woke, winking parody of Lennon’s half-apology routine. Over a cartoonish, sauntering groove — it could be theme music from some old spy show if not for its electronic underpinnings — she delivers sarcastic readings of lines like, “I’m a gentleman, don’t wanna see your gentle hand with anybody.” Eventually her bandmate Louis O’Bryen chimes in to push the black humor over the top: “There it goes, spinning out of control again!” Paired with the video’s goofball Blues Brothers sendup, their cackling mockery is contagious. But there’s a dead serious warning buried in there: “I’m a jealous guy, watch out.” –Chris
Jamila Woods makes it look easy. But “EARTHA,” the latest in a line of pitch-perfect singles from LEGACY! LEGACY!, makes it apparent that Woods’ confidence has been a work in progress, and comes at the expense of a lot of wasted time and wasteful people. The song’s jumpy smoothness is a reflection on those who take up too much space but have nothing much to say. The first verse starts off by betraying Woods’ former lack of poise — “Hung my smile on a shelf/ Hid my teeth when I laughed” — but the rest finds her in full bloom, sure-headed and uncompromising. “You look right over me/ Your words stuck on repeat/ I’m tired of your shit,” she sings in the chorus, making it clear that she will never be overlooked again. –James
Lizzo’s confidence comes in all different flavors — cocky, bold and campy, girly and empowering. They’re all delicious, but the unbothered sexiness she offers on “Tempo” is my favorite yet. “Tempo” is exactly what I want out of a Lizzo song, or any poppy hip-hop song for that matter: a little nasty, with enough trap to inspire a subtle twerk. Missy Elliott is the perfect companion for this vibe and you can hear her influence all over the track, down to the simple, driving beat. “Slow songs, they for skinny hoes/ Can’t move all of this to one of those/ I’m a thick bitch, I need tempo,” Lizzo raps in an even tone. It’s a demand, not a request. –Julia
Empath have already demonstrated their uncanny ability to merge glistening pop melodies with raging swaths of noise, and we get plenty of both on “Hanging Out Of Cars.” The bright synth line that runs through the track is one of their most earwormy melodic confections yet, and the blown-out cacophony and pounding drums feels exactly like speeding down the highway at 100 miles an hour with your windows down.
But then something different happens. Everything drops out and Catherine Elicson shouts, “Where I take you is where I take myself!/ An empty space is the most I’ve ever felt.” And after one final blast of noise, the song achieves liftoff, breaking through the atmosphere into the endless, weightless float of space. Droning synths and half-heard transmissions slowly fade into oblivion. There go Empath again, careening into the unknown. –Peter
It’s a cold, harsh feeling. You walk out of the matinee showing, and the sunlight punches you in the face. You are no longer living vicariously through Ally Maine or Ethan Hunt or Spider-Man. You are living your own stupid, shitty life. That’s the story of “Movies,” a song that explores the way movies — our dominant mythmaking devices for the past century — manipulate and cajole and comfort us: “Big box office hit/ Making love to a counterfeit… The meaning of life doesn’t seem to shine like that screen.” Behind the vocals, a sci-fi synth arpeggiation gives way to grand, sweeping strings, all of it grand and cinematic and manipulative in its own way. Natalie Mering can’t help it. She loves the movies. –Tom