In case you’re wondering, pop fans, I’m still not buying Ariana Grande’s mercenary Von-Trapps-as-trap-music shopping spree “7 Rings,” still rooting for but unmoved by Maren Morris’ “Girl.” Here, instead, are the six best songs I heard this week.
Monica – “Commitment”
Whose job is it to tell me when there’s a new Monica single? Oh right, it’s my job to tell you. Well then, sorry to make you wait a month for this bracing yet drama-avoidant shot of straight-talk. In a bare bones tune she could have made up on the spot—and that’s all the stronger for its melodic plainspokenness--the possibly newly separated diva (even Bossip is inconclusive!) lays out her romantic prerequisites, chief among them: “Good sex/And commitment.”
Big Boi ft. Sleepy Brown – “Doin’ It”
Well, the NFL may be a reactionary CTE factory and last night’s game a yawn, but at least the Super Bowl brought us two new tracks from Outkast’s earthier half. Killer Mike feature or no, “Return of the Dope Boi” is a smidgen too oomph-deficient to get into my endzone. I prefer the crankily connubial “Doin’ It,” which pledges “'til the dirt with no divorce” without promising happily ever after. It’s dad rap with aspirations of grandpa rap, rippling over a nostalgic, easy-rolling piano—no James Blake for him, thanks. Not thrilled to see Dr. Luke in the credits though.
Mekons – “Lawrence of California”
Righteous as always in their elliptical declarations of purpose, everymarxist’s favorite cowpunks march out of the desert and into the Golden State, three perfectly ill-fitting voices joining together to announce “I will be the king” over feedback and fiddle. This means war?
Eyelids – “It’s About to Go Down”
Since unambitiously memorable indie guitar pop like this spread like Creeping Charlie through the ’90s, every jangle, strum, and lick placed with mildly neurotic precision, I’m pretty strongly vaccinated against all but the hardiest of its species. So what’s the big what about this selection of hooks, accurately arranged by a team of names you won’t recognize who’ve played in bands you will? The verses that waft on the semblance of a melody from “The Girl From Ipanema”? The pre-chorus that ascends with choppy purpose before it corkscrews, almost as an afterthought, into an unexpected chord change? The leaf-like glide of the chorus downward? It won me over so quickly that I wouldn’t have even asked if my critical duty didn't require it.
Girlpool – “Pretty”
“I hate the way I feel confused/Like I'll always be a part of you” is about as direct as this contemplative duo gets, and that bald simplicity becomes them.
21 Savage ft. J. Cole – “A Lot”
Every week, City Pages music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to include in the Ever-Expanding 2019 Mix, and to add to this 2019 playlist.