This was a feature that I used to do for the Daily Californian’s Arts & Entertainment blog. I decided to give it life again here. At the end of each month, I’ll post a feature highlighting five quality tracks released during that month.
This isn’t going to exactly be a ringing endorsement, but I have to be honest. First of all, this is the home stretch for the semester and I have a bunch of assignments due, so I can’t go as in-depth as I would usually like. Secondly, I’ve been hard at work on my “Best Songs of 2015” post, so be excited. The songs below are no less amazing though.
1. Missy Elliott feat. Pharrell Williams: “WTF (Where They From)”
WOW, this song is catchy. But it’s Missy Elliott and Pharrell — of course it’s catchy. Missy Elliott, who hasn’t released new music in a decade, reintroduces herself to the world with a bang. A gigantic, modern, infectious bang.
2. Ty Dolla $ign feat. Kendrick Lamar, James Fauntleroy & Brandy: “LA”
Ty Dolla $ign opens his new album with a fitting send-up to L.A., paying tribute to both the glamour and grit of the City of Angels. The lyrics are full of hidden gems (e.g. “They saw Rodney, you saw a king”) while the strings, piano chords, and vocal harmonies bring it all together. Also, as an L.A. Country native, nostalgia is undoubtedly factoring into my adoration. Kendrick vividly name-checks various L.A. touchstones: “I’m off that Centennial,” “When I made that turn off the 110,” “See that Staples Center high earnin’ if the Lakers get me a win.” Despite the depiction of tough times, it’s still a song of hope. “L.A., it’s the city of Angels, it can take you anywhere.”
3. Pusha T: “Untouchable”
Pusha T is currently the most underrated rapper. Period. His flow is always fierce, packed with anger and precision, and he always demonstrates excellent taste in production. “Untouchable” is no different. Timbaland’s stuttering, ominous, Notorious-BIG-sampling beat is simply amazing, and Pusha T’s rapping is on point, as expected.
4. Jeremih: “oui”
Smooth, sexy R&B. The backing music sounds like a Kanye soul beat circa 2005, but with a fresh, modern feel. And Jeremih’s voice is silky.
5. Bibio: “Petals”
Bibio, a producer from England, is the author of one of my favorite songs ever, “Lovers’ Carvings”. My friends played it at their wedding, as the bridesmaids and grandparents walked down the aisle, and it was magical. His new lead single, “Petals,” carries on the woozy, serene feeling of “Lovers’ Carvings.” It’s a perfect blend of organic and electronic, full of pitch bends, sound effects, and a wistful melody.
Honorable mention: David Bowie released the lead single to his next album, a 10-minute behemoth called “Blackstar” (also simply known as “☆”). It would have definitely made this list, but I figured I would wait to honor it in January, when the full album comes out. Also, Grimes released her assured, consistent, fun, and flat-out good album Art Angels — the most fun song is “Kill v. Maim”.