As people looked back on the chaos of the 1960s from the relative calm of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the adage that turbulent times make for great art came up a lot. Whether or not that’s true — we’d venture that anyone who ever idly wished they’d grown up during the ‘60s is getting a taste of what it was like now — we are consistently blown away by the quality, variety and vitality of the songs we’re hearing every week.
So far this week we’ve highlighted Billie Eilish’s third song of the year, “Therefore I Am,” Run the Jewels latest and “Shame Shame,” the first offering from Foo Fighters’ forthcoming full-length — which is actually better in its recorded version than on “SNL” last weekend, IOHO — but scroll down for more turbulence…
Lil Nas X “Holiday” Last year’s breakout star wisely has been keeping a relatively low profile since his big look at the Grammys in January, and while this is his first big release since then, it’s not a drastic change of direction — nor, despite the Santa imagery and awesome Pixar-iffic video, are the lyrics particularly holiday-friendly. In fact, they’re largely about hoes, same-sex sex and Nas himself (props for this one: “I snuck into the game, came in on a horse/ I pulled a gimmick, I admit it, I got no remorse”). And while the song does feel a little lightweight, damned if it’s not effective: It jumped out of the pile of songs we were considering this week.
DJ Scheme, Cordae & Ski Mask The Slump God – “Soda” (Feat. Take A Daytrip) In all honesty this song is our favorite of the week, just as much for the simple but indelible hook — courtesy of Take a Daytrip, who also coproduced Lil Nas X’s song above — as for the fast and dense rhymes Cordae and Ski Mask serve up (“Hot as Grand Canyon, sand scorpion critter/ Radioactive, I broke the emitter/ You bitter, actin’ like unpaid babysitter/ Flow sharper than any arrow in Robin Hood’s quiver”). Damn!
Glaive “Eyesore” We’ve been clocking the rise of the mutant-pop genre apparently called “hyperpop” (after a Spotify playlist) ever since PC Music and songwriter-producer AG Cook joined forces with Charli XCX four years ago, but the way it’s taken off in the past few months has been astonishing, even in times like these — there was even a New York Times feature on it earlier this week. Featured in that feature was 15-year-old Glaive who, almost unbelievably, just started making music when lockdown began back in March. Clearly he’s got natural gifts aplenty, and while some may be put off by the autotuned/helium-like nature of the vocal treatment, there’s no denying this kid’s ability with melody. Debut EP coming next week.
Rico Nasty “OHFR?” Weren’t we just talking about hyperpop? Here the nastiest of the Nasty joins forces with hyperpop titans 100 Gecs, who spare their trademark autotune and ADD-addled song structure for a simple and hard beat with an almost Public Enemy-style descending bloop — and it’s in and out in two minutes.
Jhay Cortez “Kobe in L.A.” While we’re not sure we’re on board with the sentiment in the lyrics of this song from this fast-rising Puerto Rican superstar — he’s basically saying he gets the same reaction in PR that Kobe got in Los Angeles, which seems morbidly hubristic — there’s no denying the drive of the song (courtesy producer M. De La Cruz) and Cortez’s killer flow. The version below is the edit — there’s a much longer take for the official video.