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Spinning Singles: Lana Del Rey, “Lust For Life”

Lana Del Rey’s new song “Lust For Life” debuted on BBC1 on April 19.   The song is the titular track off her upcoming album. It features rich vocals and a collaboration between Lana and the singer Abel Tesfaye of The Weeknd. The track opens with Lana Del Rey’s seductively saying “Climb up the H of the Hollywood sign, in these stolen moments, the world is mine.”  These sultry lyrics are followed by “we’re the  masters of our own fate.”  Lana’s vocals proved to be just as mellifluous as usual, and her performance gave off similar vibes to her first album Born to Die.  

I felt that the collaboration between Lana Del Rey and Abel Tesfaye was disappointing.

Spinning Singles: Coldplay, “Hypnotised”

Upon seeing the cover art for Coldplay’s newest single “Hypnotised,” I feared that they had not yet put their 2015 album, A Head Full of Dreams, to rest. The single was released today without any previous announcement, which shocked me. Regardless, I feared that once more, Coldplay would try to blend in with what’s mainstream instead of retaining their signature mellow style. Their recent release of the collaboration single with The Chainsmokers, “Something Just Like This,” affirmed my doubts even if it was a good, catchy song. I love Coldplay, but I must say that A Head Full of Dreams appeared to have been written by a procrastinating college student at 3AM, and that’s not even getting into the terrible CGI chimpanzee versions of Coldplay in the music video for “Adventure of a Lifetime.” I nearly lost hope in Coldplay, but not quite.

COURTESY OF REACH RECORDS

Spinning Singles: Lecrae, “Blessings”

For a genre whose lyrics are typically built off of braggadocio and pride, hip-hop has been taking a humbler stance recently. Maybe “humble” is not the right word, but amidst the bombastic bangers and club hits, a few artists have put out introspective tracks acknowledging where they were in the past and thanking those who have helped them achieve success. Big Sean’s third single “Blessings” from 2015’s Dark Sky Paradise was an eerie and spectral track which saw him shout out his grandma and mom for their support. Likewise, the infectious, gospel-inspired “Blessings” off of Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book though much more light-hearted, continued this same theme, with Chano expressing gratitude to God. So in 2017 when Lecrae releases a new single of the same name, does he offer anything new?

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The Purest Form of Adulation: “Carolina”

The Mexican music scene is highly underrated, especially when it comes to anything that isn’t bachata, reggaeton, cumbia or other mainstream genres. Right now, one type of music that truly represents art is a hybrid of acoustic and indie with a splash an indescribable psychedelic element, which not many Mexican artists have mastered. It’s the type of music that you don’t have to understand in order to sway along to it or have it end up stuck in your head like a sweet daydream playing over and over again. I’m talking about music by artists like Siddhartha, León Larregui, Zoé and now Salvador y el Unicornio. However, if you do understand the lyrics, the experience is much more lucid and indulging.

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Spinning Singles: PWR BTTM, NAO

“New Hampshire” — PWR BTTM 

PWR BTTM is a pretty unilateral band. A great and unashamedly unilateral band, but one-sided all the same. Frankly, there are only so many types of sounds a guitar-drum rock duo can concoct, and it’s not like PWR BTTM, even at their best, have been bounding through any boundaries, sonically. Ugly Cherries was remarkable more for what it was (a thrashing, vulnerable paean to queerness and what it can mean in all its iterations) than for how it sounded (pwr chords and pwr vocals that both, in turn, skidded from blared to whimpered with the click of a distortion pedal). As I heard it, their last album’s noises were auxiliary, secondary to and supporting the inescapable choruses, bleeding confessionals and brash, almost gaudy humor that stood at the top of the soundpile.

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Spinning Singles: Mitski, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alicia Keys, Steve Gunn

CORRECTION APPENDED

“Happy” — Mitski

“Happy came to visit me, he brought cookies on the way.” Mitski softly spills out the words in a ghostly, vibrating mumble, over a quick, blasting automatic weapon-esque drum machine pulse on her single “Happy” — the second pre-released track from her forthcoming, sophomore sum, Puberty 2. The track is a beautiful mystery: a queer, sad, riddle of a song. The track recounts the memory of a visit from Happiness (who goes by male pronouns) who laid her down, told her it would all be okay, then vanishes while she’s in the bathroom, leaving a mess and reminders of the visit in his wake for the singer to clean up. In the song’s three brief verses, Mitski crystallizes the intoxication of happiness — the everythingness of small moments, the sun-filled room, cookies and tea with a lover — and the violent hangover of the come-down, the desperation to get it back. However, the most haunting emotion on the track, is Mitski’s apathy about the whole affair: that she is not heartbroken, screaming or crying: just a little bit sad, as she quietly cleans up the debris: “And I turned around to see/All the cookie wrappers/And the empty cups of tea/Well I signed and mumbled to myself/Again I have to clean.”

As it turns out, ambivalence about heartbreak is much sadder than heartbreak by itself.

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.

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.