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.
Everyone you love is about to die on Game Of Thrones this weekend and you want to talk about pop music? Fine, here are the week’s best songs.
“They say they want that spazz rap, yeah/ But now we got these niggas’ trunks sounding like it’s Baghdad.” That’s how Ritchie With A T opens his verse on Injury Reserve’s “Koruna & Lime,” and, well, he’s not wrong. The beautifully disorienting, trunk-exploding production from the trio’s own Parker Corey is the star of the show here, combining industrial metallic clangs, ominous vocal grunts, synthetic burbles, discordant horns, and some scratching from turntable master A-Trak into something resembling an honest-to-god banger.
It sounds less like the future of hip-hop than a deranged parallel universe, with rappers Ritchie and Stepa J Groggs exploring every corner of it. “Love the fans that say we don’t get enough shine/ I mean, shit, well, they isn’t lyin’,” Groggs says at one point. If they keep making songs like this, the shine will come. –Peter
Relationships never fully end. Feelings linger, things are left unsaid. Carly Rae Jepsen knows this. She handles heartbreak with grace, acceptance, and synths. “Boy Problems” saw her holding onto someone halfway out the door. She embraced rejection on “Party For One.”
And now, on “Julien,” she‘s dancing through the pain and regret of choosing to let someone go. “Asked me to leave with you, but I could never decide … I’m forever haunted by our time,” she intones with heavy breath. Guitars wiggle and sparkle with cathartic bliss. She sings toward an uncertain infinity: “Until the last breath that I breathe, I’ll be whispering Julien.” –Julia
Is Rico Nasty the new Lil Wayne? Back when Weezy was at his peak, he had plenty of fantastic originals, but he was at his best when gobbling up beats other people made famous and spitting them back out in his own hallucinatory, free-associative image. That kind of thing has become a lot less common in the post-Spotify era, when the Datpiff-style tape has all but gone extinct. But Rico Nasty is out here destroying every beat she encounters, and as with Lil Wayne, she’s never better than when making mincemeat of established hits.
On last year’s Nasty she went nuts over the Neptunes’ production from N.O.R.E.’s “Superthug,” reducing its pressurized pops and snaps to a deflated heap. On the new Anger Management, her victim is Timbaland’s skittering, stuttering “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” beat. On “Hatin,” Rico lays claim to one of Jay-Z’s biggest hits. Basically every ferocious bar is quotable, but how about we quote this one: “I know what I’m doin’, you ain’t gotta keep an eye on me/ I be countin’ money like how they be countin’ calories.” While basking in all that shade, I’ll offer just one counterpoint — the way Rico is rapping, you definitely need to keep an eye on her. –Chris
“It’s not a night out unless you spend the next day regretting every single word you said.” A friend texted me this a few months ago after I confessed to having said some especially stupid things the night before. My hangover was critical — brain pounding against my skull, stomach sloshing around, self-esteem bottoming out — and I was laying in bed unable to sleep but also incapable of facing the world. I wanted to undo everything I did or said, to relive the night before and opt to like, go to yoga and read by candlelight instead of tanking tequila.
Mannequin Pussy’s “Drunk II” speaks to this predicament perfectly. Marisa Dabice wrote it after reaching that pivotal moment when she realized she was going out and getting trashed to try to forget about someone who no longer loved her. In a romantic comedy, this kind of behavior generally leads to something good happening. In reality, it mostly just makes you hate yourself.
Dabice doesn’t mince her words here, and she confesses to stuff that a lot of us have done but probably would never, ever want to admit to in such a public way: “Do you remember the nights/ I called you up?/ I was so fucked up/ I forgot we were broken up/ I still love you, you stupid fuck!” Her rage turns inward on this song, and as much as she indicts the person who hurt her, she also knows that self-sabotage isn’t getting her anywhere. The new people she wastes time with are filling up an emptiness so vast it echoes. “At the end of the night I am walking home/ I pretended that I am wet I am wanting them/ No please stop/ I need to be alone.”
“Drunk II” is overflowing with stinging lines like that one, and even if this song was recorded in a basement on a laptop microphone, the melody would still linger, the hooks would drag you down with them. It’s a total head rush. But Mannequin Pussy are far removed from their scrappy origin story now, and the production on their forthcoming album Patience is enough to prove that. On “Drunk II,” Dabice sounds rabid and vengeful, but this is a pop song, and it sparkles like one. –Gabriela
FKA twigs is an artist who works in grand gestures: tripped-out music videos, intricately spacey choreography, a whole visual mini-album. I once saw twigs play a headlining festival set that was essentially a modern dance recital. She’s probably the only person who would try that, and definitely the only person who could pull it off. But as dramatic as her presentation can be, she still writes songs in plain language, spelling things out for us. That’s why she can ride a stripper pole to another dimension, as she does in the “Cellophane” video, while still coming off tragically human.
“Cellophane,” twigs’ first single in about three years, hides nothing. The song is an open wound. It’s a breakup song, built around the kind of dark, soul-sucking questions that can nag at us when things end: “Didn’t I do it for you? Why don’t I do it for you?” This song is coming out after twigs spent a few years engaged to a famous man, facing levels of internet attention and tabloid visibility that almost no artist on her level will ever have to deal with. And so when she sings about the forces of the outside world — “They’re hating/ They’re waiting/ And hoping I’m not enough” — she’s not exaggerating. “I try, but I get overwhelmed,” she keens. Who wouldn’t?
We’re used to hearing twigs over warped beat-skitters, but “Cellophane” is essentially just a piano ballad, spare and intimate and earnest. The drum-wobbles are there, but they’re off in the distance. This gives plenty of space to twigs’ voice, which is as poised and expressive as it’s ever been. For the first time, she sounds more Tori Amos than Björk. It’s a heavy, powerful song, and it’s also an open and vulnerable one. For twigs to come back with a song like this after years away — and after the end of that famous relationship — shows a mind-boggling level of courage. Its starkness is a grand gesture all its own. –Tom