One new song a week, every week. Peep below for the full playlist, as well as a quick breakdown of each track:
April 30, 2018: “Heat Wave” by Snail Mail
Apologies to Post Malone, who definitely dropped the hottest Disney Channel-referencing track of the year on Friday, but Snail Mail still had the week’s best song by a long shot.
“Heat Wave,” the newest single by 19-year-old songwriter Lindsey Jordan, is summer love song perfection: the 5-minute punk epic is full of reverb-laden guitars, sloppy, crashing drums and lyrics about romantic uncertainty. If Say Anything was set in 2018, this would be the track blaring through John Cusack’s speakers.
April 23, 2018: “Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All” by Father John Misty
Father John Misty may sound—and look—like your friendly neighborhood indie rocker, but he’s really a comedian at heart. The songwriter is at his best when he’s at his cheekiest, using his caustic, halfway-philosophical point of view to make witty observations about love, society and culture.
“Disappointing Diamonds,” the first of two excellent new singles, is jam-packed with what made Misty so compelling to begin with: to put it simply, the dude’s got jokes. Featuring lines such as “like a pervert on a crowded bus, a glare of love bares down on all of us,” the track is a laugh-out-loud ballad.
April 16, 2018: “Pynk” by Janelle Monáe (feat. Grimes)
Everyone loves a superhero team-up. In just one more week, Avengers: Infinity War will come busting into theaters, powered by a mind-boggling number of A-list stars (most of whom are either named Chris, or have really big beards or are people with really big beards also named Chris).
Janelle Monáe and Grimes are not the Avengers, but they might as well be. The two artists have been some of music’s most uncompromising creative forces over the last several years, and hearing them work together feels like a team-up we’ve been waiting on for ages, whether we knew it or not yet. The result of their superhero alliance, “Pynk,” is a bass-booming, electro-grooving pop anthem that oozes with ambition and style.
April 9, 2018: “Hunnybee” by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
For such a complicated musician, Ruban Nielson has some pretty simple goals. Back in February, the Unknown Mortal Orchestra frontman announced the group’s newest album would be called Sex & Food, and then on Friday the band delivered an album that exactly fulfills its title’s promise.
The record is just as intimate and introspective as something named after such simple desires should be, and, at his best, Nielson plays the role of R&B crooner better than an Australian psych-rocker should be able to. “Hunnybee,” the album’s best track, is a warm, grooving, mess of sensual bass riffs and falsetto proclamations: it’s everything a love song should be.
April 2, 2018: “Okra” by Tyler The Creator
Tyler, The Creator can rap. Like really, really, rap.
There aren’t many other ways to react to “Okra.” Tyler’s latest is a Grammy-nomination celebrating, Timothée Chalamet-referencing flex of a hip-hop song, and a counterpoint to anyone who thought 2017’s R&B-heavy Flower Boy meant the former Odd Future leader didn’t have bars anymore.
“Okra” is like running a 4.3-second 40 yard dash the night after drinking 15 beers and downing a full All Star Special at Waffle House. Tyler isn’t the least bit hungover, and he wants to make sure we all know it.
March 27, 2018: “Hide” by Rainbow Kitten Surprise
Life gets a whole lot easier when it’s warm out. As it turns out, so does making indie rock.
“Hide,” the latest single from Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s upcoming album How to: Friend, Love, Freefall, might have been just another poppy, summer-splashed indie track if it was released at a less crucial time of year. Instead, the, which came out just days after the first day of Spring, is an undeniably catchy anthem for the impending warm weather.
March 19, 2018: “Japan” by Famous Dex
2018 is officially the year of the short rap song. In a post-“Gucci Gang” (2:04 in total runtime) world, the youngest generation of rappers have been fighting crawling over each other in a fight for the catchiest, briefest micro-rap hit.
Take a look at Spotify’s most streamed tracks for an example. As it stands now, the top songs by XXXTENTACION, Rich the Kid and Ugly God are all under three minutes in length. YBN Nahmir’s “Bounce Out With That,” played more than 38 million times in total, is only 1:37 long. Meanwhile, Famous Dex’s “Japan” slides in at a crisp 2:24, still managing to cram in three full choruses, 15 references to his “baby girl” and a seemingly unlimited amount of energy.
March 12, 2018: “66” by Lil Yachty (feat. Trippie Redd)
“Quality” has always been a subjective term when describing Lil Yachty’s music, but his new album is, objectively, not good. A chronological follow up to last year’s disappointing Teenage Emotions and a spiritual follow up to the mixtape that made an online phenomenon, Lil Boat 2 is full of strange attempts at actual, serious rapping.
Here’s the problem though: For a rapper, Lil Yachty isn’t really any good at rapping. Instead, the 20-year-old artist is at his most compelling as a crooner—lackadaisically floating auto-tuned vocals over airy, synthed-out trap beats. Thankfully, there’s plenty of what we love about Yachty on “66,” even if the rest of the album falls flat.
March 5, 2018: “Addictions” by Lucy Dacus
Lucy Dacus is immune to pressure. After the wildly successful release of her 2016 debut, No Burden, the then-20-year-old had a mountain of expectations piling up around her: Labels were fighting to sign her, critics were jumping to praise her and media outlets were advertising her impeding stardom as an inevitability.
Still, Dacus responded last Friday in the same way James Harden does after crossing up a defender—she didn’t just take her shot and make it, she paused, made sure everyone was watching and then shot the ball while glaring directly at anyone who doubted her. Thanks to tracks like “Addictions,” the singer’s new record, Historian, is every bit as good as the world imagined it would be, and then some.
Photo: Corey Leopold/Flickr