I heard more than a few songs this week that I can tell I’m gonna hear a lot more of in the weeks to come. And people, I am not thrilled.
But I also heard six great new(ish) songs that I’ll be listening to instead of Bruno Mars’ latest retro schtick exercise (which is a very inefficient way to get more Cardi B on the radio). Feel free to join me.
Sir Babygirl – “Everyone Is a Bad Friend”
Kelsie Hogue lays out the routine irritations of social interaction in a bright yet blasé voice as the beat crunches and a guitar circles behind her, then the song spools off into an anxious yet proud tirade that’s something between a chorus and a coda. An entire generation of indie-rockers that’s grown up in a world where radio pop was never uncool is determined to scale its hooks down to human size, and I am here for it.
Lizzo – “Cuz I Love You”
Lizzo’s got the chops to play this retro soul ballad straight, but she happily camps it up instead, which is more fun for everyone involved: The true love she professes is as much a costume as the spandex bodysuit she wore for “Juice.” Then again, she does say she ”don’ even wanna ho no mo’,” and if that ain’t love, what is?
Rico Nasty – “Sandy”
Anyone predict “SpongeBob-core” as the new rap thing for 2019? First there was CupcakKe’s “Squidward Nose,” now a titular namecheck for the drawling underwater squirrel in the latest of a string of excellent follow-up singles to Rico’s no less excellent mixtape Nasty. Recommended: “Roof,” produced, just like this track, by Kenny Beats, which has a stripped down energy recalling early Def Jam. Also recommended: this video, which is seriously fucked up.
Dexter Story ft. Sudan Archives – “Gold”
The guitar riff that doubles as a vocal melody suggests Tuareg blues out of the western Sahara, but Story’s music draws primarily from a wide swath of east Africa, and featured singer/violinist Brittney Parks adds her own geographically ambiguous touch. In other words, this is “African” music that doesn’t exist anywhere outside of the L.A. studio where it was created, and it’s no less true to its roots because of that.
Ciara – “Greatest Love”
R&B’s princess of satisfaction sounds as determined as ever to prove that “Between the Sheets” is an entire genre unto itself. Maybe this is just a lesser version of “Body Party,” but it also promises that the party will last a lifetime, and I believe her.
Gary Clark Jr. – “This Land”
This black Texan blues-rocker’s wise choice to jam race and history in our faces has been good for his music too—the reggae chop and guitar squall here is as bracingly impolite and overduely welcome as his “Fuck you, I’m America’s son.” I hope the white fans who are sheltered enough to call this “hip-hop” in the YouTube comments have the good sense not to sing along with the chorus when they see him live.
Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2019 playlist.