Spinning Singles: James Blake, “Modern Soul”

What has remained constant throughout James Blake’s career — from his basically instrumental, sample-heavy, early E.P.s, to the steady turn toward full-scale R&B documented by his two studio albums — is that he has always seemed to be an artist in the process of evolving. For this reason, I was surprised when I turned on “Modern Soul,” a song Blake debuted on BBC1 last week. A possible selection from his forthcoming studio album Radio Silence, the song would have seemed right at home on Blake’s more recent L.P., 2013’s Overgrown. Like so much of Overgrown, “Modern Soul” is piano based and melodic, but also features electronic instrumentation and distortion. All is set to the background by Blake’s soulful baritone, sounding great, but pretty much the same as ever.

Spinning Singles: Hozier, “Cherry Wine”

Two days before Valentine’s Day, Hozier released the music video for his song “Cherry Wine.” The song has a delicate, pretty melody that relies heavily of an acoustic guitar that sets the stage as a couple enjoy a lovely, romantic Valentine’s Day. A woman removing her makeup is the center of the video as it switches between her, looking in the mirror, and her memories with her husband earlier that night. The couple returns to their apartment, casually drinking and playfully kissing each other. It appears that they are deeply in love with each other and have a #goals relationship. When the video returns to the woman by herself removing her makeup, it shows her wiping off her foundation revealing a black eye and that she is a victim of domestic abuse.

COURTESY OF MEDIUM

Spinning Singles: Beyoncé, “Formation”

People were shocked when Beyoncé dropped her new music video, “Formation,” the day before The Super Bowl. Since then, I have had so many discussions about this song with so many people. Some say it is entirely overrated, while others gush about how empowering it is. I fall somewhere in between. I love the fact that “Formation” is unapologetically black and makes references to black culture that are entirely missed by non-black audiences.

Spinning Singles: The Chainsmokers, “Don’t Let Me Down”

So far Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall, the duo that comprises the EDM group The Chainsmokers, are the masters of creating yearly hits. In 2014, it was the group’s song “#Selfie” that garnered them recognition. Last year, “Roses” was warbled on dance floors and blasted in cars everywhere. It was a song that bonded people with diverse musical inclinations all through summer ending, the leaves changing and our waiting for the snow that never came. Perhaps “Don’t Let Me Down” is The Chainsmokers’ triumphant 2016 single.

Spinning Singles: Drake, “Summer Sixteen”

Drake is back and “looking for revenge.” “Summer Sixteen,” the leading single off of his upcoming album Views from the 6, premiered on Jan. 30th on his OVO Sound radio show on Apple’s Beats 1Radio. If Drake was looking to ruffle some feathers before the drop of his new album, he certainly did. From insulting President Obama in retaliation for calling Kendrick Lamar the better rapper to his multiple shots at rival rapper Meek Mill, with whom he has a highly publicized feud about ghost writing — Drake is back. As a Drake fan, I wasn’t disappointed.

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Spinning Singles: The Lumineers, “Ophelia”

Last Friday, the world heard “Ophelia,” the first single released from The Lumineers’ new album, Cleopatra. As expected, it is hauntingly beautiful. The song is named after the ingenue of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The lyrics state, “And I don’t feel no remorse/And you can’t see past my blindness,” which is similar to the undying love Ophelia had for Hamlet, who did not regret ending their affair prematurely. The emotional distance between these two characters from the tragedy is evident in the song and, as a Shakespeare fanatic, I can appreciate the lyrics.

Macklemore's personal politics are admirable, but his rapping still leaves something to be desired.

Spinning Singles: Macklemore, “White Privilege II”

Macklemore knows what you think of him. He’s aware that he is viewed as a lightweight YouTube rapper, a privileged thief who unfairly profits from black culture. “White Privilege II” is his response, and it’s pure Macklemore: unabashedly sincere, clearly communicated and blatantly uncool. What rubs many people the wrong way about Macklemore isn’t his whiteness as much as his complete lack of guile. Remember, this is the guy who didn’t get that it would be tone-deaf to publically apologize to Kendrick Lamar after beating him out for a Grammy.

The Sun’s Top 10 Songs of 2015

1) “I Really Like You” — Carly Rae Jepsen

 

I guess that guy finally called Carly Rae after her endless melodic pleading because now she really, really, really, really, really likes him. Unless this is a different guy? In which case, Carly Rae, you little minx! The perfect song for when you’re just getting to know someone and aren’t quite sure where Netflix and chill’s going to lead: “Late night watching television/but how’d we get in this position?” Jepsen delivers exactly what we expect from her: a feel-good, catchy, pure pop song we can wail along with whose repetitiveness is offset by her sweet, breathy voice. —Gwen Aviles

2) “FourFiveSeconds” — Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney

Just when we were thinking we had enough and might get a little drunk if Rihanna released another auto-tuned track, she produced a refreshing acoustic guitar-driven tune with Kanye West and Paul McCartney.

Spinning Singles: Pusha T, “Untouchable”

By CHRIS STANTON

“The president of G.O.O.D Music has been announced / A quarter million a year, and that don’t bounce,” raps Pusha T on his latest single, “Untouchable.” The song is the first taste of the 38-year old’s long-awaited sophomore album, King Push, but the rapper born as Terrence Thornton understands what the big news is here: G.O.O.D Music has changed management. Pusha T himself has taken over the position of president from Kanye West, who founded the label in 2004 after the release of The College Dropout, and built it into the star-studded roster it is today. That Kanye would trust his brainchild to Pusha T is no surprise — the two have worked together closely for more than five years now, and West played a big part in helping the former Clipse member find success as a solo artist. However, the announcement symbolically reaffirms every Kanye fan’s most cynical suspicions: that Yeezus himself has turned his back on music in favor of fashion and family. “Untouchable,” then, inevitably feels like a consolation prize — the teddy bear a nice carny gives you if you cry enough.

Pg 10 Arts Chance

Spinning Singles: Chance the Rapper, Beach House

“Angels” — Chance the Rapper

Rappers are infamous for leaving home when they make it big: to live somewhere prettier, more glamorous and more insulated. Chance the Rapper does not seem tempted by that prospect; in fact, he is gleeful in his determination to stay home (in his local Chicago) and help his community. At the beginning of his new single “Angels,” he brags, “I got my city doing front-flips, when every father, mayor, rapper jump ship… Clean up the streets so my daughter can have somewhere to play.”

At a time when rap is dominated by different shades of negativity, from Drake’s depressed narcissism to Future’s void-staring nihilism, Chance is refreshingly positive. “Angels” is yet another Chance song that is joyful and optimistic without being sappy or corny, featuring some of Chance’s most exuberant rhyming since 2013’s Acid Rap supported by a slang-laden hook from fellow Chicagoan artist, Saba. “Angels” makes good use of Donnie Trumpet, the trumpet player in Chance’s touring band and collaborator, The Social Experiment.