MUZEMONDAZE IS AN EVOLVING QUARTERLY PLAYLIST COMPILED FROM AN ARRAY OF TIMELY SELECTED UNDERGROUND AND MAINSTREAM MUSICIANS.
PLAYLIST COMPILED BY CONTRIBUTOR TRE FLOREZ
33. Feelings - Cuco
Summer has officially arrived in California. And with all of the accompanying heatwaves, we need those chill vibes to get us through. In comes the LA based Chicano artist, Cuco (a.k.a Omar Banos) with, “Feelings”. He takes a soothing new jazz approach, similar to what Kali Uchis has been experimenting with throughout her creations, and Cuco really delivers here. At only 20-years-old, this rising artist seems to have a future ahead of him with this sound; especially since it’s rumored that Interscope Records signed him for a seven figure deal.
Starting with a synthy keyboard, a simple drum kit and horns to die for, Feelings begins in an airy and heavenly tone. It does bring an older feel into the mix, quite similar to a late 70's alternative song, but with much more updated melodies. It’s a beautiful piece to vibe out to, and we hope with the release of his debut album on July 26, Para Mi will be gifted with more of this type of feeling.
At the top, Cuco sings to a love interest, by asking to be invited into the deeper layers of their feelings. In a sultry way, he seems to want to ease his way into things:
“Get carried away and tell me the things you feel
Having already released two singles from Para Mi, Cuco is continuing to gain more buzz and hype online — especially on Twitter— for his creative, yet familiar sound!
32. Megaton - Nicki Minaj
Despite the rocky release of her best work in 2018, rap mogul Nicki Minaj is still pushing out new music, and this past week released a new single: Megatron. A true summer jam baked in a lab somewhere, Megatron has the gusto to get Nicki back on top of the year, especially following the introduction of the latest 2019 XXL Freshman List. As the social-sphere cries for more female rap collaborations, Megan Thee Stallion, Rico Nasty, and Tierra Whack were all some of the artists gaining momentum this year.
A loud and catchy “Brratatatat,” begins Megatron and then picks up with a steady guitar strum, which flavors the track with a tropical sound. This made sense, being that the sets of the music video captures neon-tropical paradises. Her fashion remains true to the Minaj brand: too small, high-end, and figure hugging.
Minaj both raps and sings, and gets you hooked in the chorus:
31. Bounce Back - Little Mix
UK-based glam-girl-group, Little Mix announced that a new album is in the works and released an accompanying new single with the news, titled "Bounce Back". This is in fact, their newest release since dropping the LM5 album, which holds the 2018 chart-smashing collab track, “Woman Like Me” (featuring Nicki Minaj). Little Mix is no new entity when it comes to album releases, and with experimental production from Stargate, they should see major radio and likely, nightclub play.
Since the girls were discovered in 2011 on the X Factor, their sound and image has shifted dramatically. It is quite evident, that this single and visual shows that as they still fearlessly evolving. The power of such growth, musically! Little Mix takes advantage of their sexuality (as always) and each aims for individual perfection in there visual; dressing up and imitating the likes of barbie dolls. Scenes take place in and around a large dream house, with the girls fiercely sporting animal print; fashions that resemble Rihanna's most recent 'it' moment for interview magazine, where she is photographed wearing the Laquan Smith's catsuit.
The group takes time to let their dudes know: that if they didn’t come to do their best, then they had better just stay home.
Bounce Back starts with an incredible harmonic cover of Soul II Soul’s Back to Life, and jumps right into the fastest dance beat you will ever experience. Disco drum and clap beat fuel the story as the verses ensue, and you are instantly sweating from how much you are moving at the hips (*attempts to twerk). Mix chanting set in, “Bring the bounce back, bring the, bring the bounce back” and the beat will not let you stay seated throughout the entire three minutes. Then, with incredible harmonies, Little Mix sings:
“He say that I'm the girl up in his dreams
30. Bouncin - Kiana Ledé feat. Offset
"Bouncin", the lead single from rising R&B artist Kiana Ledé’s EP – Myself – is the easy going summer hookup anthem. Myself, is technically Tiana’s second small body of work, aside from her 2018 summer EP, Selfless. Both EP’s include her most recognizable single, EX.
Bouncin, carries a literal bouncy feel to the rhythm; the weight of the bass meshes with what sounds like an inverted train-horn. It’s hard not to move to the beat, as Offset of Migos slides in and out with a verse; a sweet shout out to Cardi B.
It’s very easy to pick up on the innuendos when Kiana sings in the chorus:
“Bounce, then, I'll take you to my house and
But then again, there’s no time to waste!
29. Heaven - Avicii
After the untimely death of world famous DJ Avicii last year in 2018, the question of his unfinished work became a topic of major discussion. Both fans and those close to Avicii in the music world, wondered if the public would ever get to hear what he was working on; as a new album has been highly anticipated since his 2015 album, Stories. After a bit of a wait and the mourning of a talented artists death, Avicii’s final album TIM was released this June.
TIM, references Avicii’s real name — Tim Bergling — and is a collection of songs finished by peers, and other tracks he had finished before his death. The latest single to be released is called: Heaven. It is a mildly cheerful beat with lyrics that linger in your brain, as Chris Martin of Coldplay, sings them joyfully.
In the chorus, Martin sings about how being in his lovers arms makes him happy, “I think I just died and went to heaven.” These lyrics pinned with the upbeat synth and piano melody, had me choked up listening to it the first time. It brought out a relieving feeling through the end of the last beat.
28. Medicine (Steve Aoki from the Block Remix) - Jennifer Lopez
When assessing the last twenty or so years of pop culture, it would be impossible to leave out the likes of Mrs. Jennifer Lopez. After all, aside from her fame beyond the music and acting success, it’s because of that iconic red carpet Versace dress moment she had, that we in fact, have access to the Google Image search. And now, at nearly 50 years of age, Lopez is still dosing us with the tunes we need to keep the hips moving.
A couple months ago, her latest single – Medicine – debuted on streaming services. It recently caught the ear of remix master Steve Aoki, bringing us to this remix. Emphasizing on the saxophone in the original, Aoki brings that to the front by removing a lot of the lyrics, to allow for mutiple dance breaks. While the beat is consistent, the music video is more so focusing on close ups of Lopez’s body, than being choreograph oriented. At any rate, not many remixes get their own video:
27. Aute Cuture - ROSALÍA
Rosalía (stylized in all caps) is a quickly rising star in the Latin music world. After mixing classic flamenco style music with modern sounds and themes in 2017, the world’s ears picked up on the artistry that this young talent had. Now she is working on her third album, with more notoriety and more resources at her disposal. Her latest single, “Aute Cuture”, is a play on 'haute couture', and will likely become the next big Latin-centric hit. WIth some acting also under her belt, as she recently appeared alongside Penelope Cruz in Pedro Almodovar's Dolor y Gloria (Pain and Glory), we should expect to see a lot more of Rosalía everywhere.
The layout to Aute Cuture is a heavy bass beat and a snare, with a light horn medley layered on top and chimes in at the chorus. The lyrics are very catchy, speaking to the peachy life of Rosalía and how her fashion-game slays. About 99% of Aute Cuture is in Spanish (aside from English adlibs), so if you don’t quite understand, just remember this: “Esto está encendí'o” translates to “this is on”, which translate to “this is lit/it/the shit”.
The vid is a classic wild west story of a gang controlling a town. This time, the gang is Rosalía and her super fashionable, long-fingernailed girl gang. They come into town to get their nails done and make sure the townsfolk cooperate. Rosalía even kills a man with her Spanish Royalty inspired claw, that is jewel encrusted and dipped in gold. Her fashion sense here, is as they say, killer.
26. Never Really Over - Katy Perry
Pop superstar Katy Perry also took the day of May 31, to release some new whimsical music. The single titled, “Never Really Over”, is a reminiscent song about an old relationship that is still on her mind. It has a fun packed, up-tempo, and dreamy vibe to it. The Zedd production is more of a sing-along tune, than a dance hit, but fits in well with the rest of Perry's playful repertoire.
Though, the track has a lot going on in the background, the electric drum kit and synth are paired well along with her voice. It is especially prominent in the chorus, when she quickly sings, “Just because it's over doesn't mean it's really over / And if I think it over, maybe you'll be coming over again.” Perry is struggling to finally put an end to a relationship, that has found its way back into her life. She sings in the chorus:
“Two years, and just like that
In the music video, we see Perry seeking help, as she enters a long driveway to what appears to be a wellness / spiritual facility. There, she and everyone else, is dressed in their best 70s chic, complete with bell bottom pants, hair bands, and flowy materials. As they dance and do rituals in the grove, we see Perry do different activities to boost her mental health. Some treatments we see Perry go through include meditation, acupuncture, and taking a love based sacrament with other patients. It ends with her exiting the facility, only to see the man she is singing about and then immediately, goes after him.
25. Mother’s Daughter - Miley Cyrus
After teasing fans for months with the promise of new music, Miley Cyrus has finally released her latest. SHE IS COMING was released on the last day of May, as a six track EP, with features including Ru Paul on Cattitude and Ghostface Killah on D.R.E.A.M. It is another new sound from Miley — something different altogether — yet, captures the full-bodied rebellious nature of her self expression.
The lead single by the name Mother’s Daughter, is a feisty tribute to the mother of the Cyrus clan, Tish Cyrus. It carries an almost 80s/90s pop layout; no real instruments, but a fast beat and ominous sounding synth. It’s easy to nod your head and sing along to – even if, in this case – you’re not a daughter. Cyrus sings praise to her mom, near the end of the song:
“My mama always told me that I'd make it
Letting us know that without her mother’s positive guidance she would not be where she is today. Well that, and the fact that Tish is also her manager, may have helped out a bit.
With lots of eccentric, very Miley produced videos being tweeted and instagrammed from her social media accounts, we were fairly confident that a music video would have been out by now, but nothing official. We did get this one minute video posted to Youtube, titled D.R.E.A.M. Sequence:
24. Purple Emoji - Ty Dolla $ign feat J.Cole
Artist and producer, Ty Dolla $ign, has begun his third album cycle, of which is due to come out later this year (according to an interview on Zane Lowe’s Beats Radio One show). He recently put out the lead single to the upcoming work, “Purple Emoji”, that features J. Cole.
It is a sultry R&B love letter, with a classic sample and a featured rap artist; this checks all of the qualifications for a hit. The pair split the song into two verses, both expressing how they love and need their women in their life. In his verse, Ty Dolla sings:
“Go through withdrawals when we apart, get back together, re-up
He sounds a bit more remorseful than J. Cole, who raps in his verse:
“I'm grabbin' on you in public, I know that you love it
23. Playground - Steve Lacy
Straight out of the Tame Impala production playbook, comes a rising artist and a member of The Internet, Steve Lacy with his newest track, "Playground". Lacy's much anticipated first solo album, "Apollo XXI", dropped a few days ago, that was very pleasing for listeners. Before release, he pushed Playground from the album as a final single, but did not release a music video to accompany it. The entire album, is creatively on brand; your can hear The Internet’s sound kit influence throughout the genre defying tale
With a falsetto and a groovy bass line, Lacy grabs your ears and pulls you off to vibe with him, wherever you are. He sings of his lover playing games, and that he’s “on the playground,” as in, he wants to play! In verse one he sings:
“Somethin' in the way you treat me like you do
Two can play the game when it feels so right next to you
And we can leave up out of here, bring your body here
Two can feel the same on nights where love is the plan”
22. Win WIn - Diplo feat Tove Lo
Dance music loves Diplo. Dance music loves Tove Lo. Would dance music love Diplo and Tove Lo, at the same time? Apparently, hell yes. At the beginning of May, Dance-godfather and producer extraordinaire, Diplo released a 4 track EP, “Higher Ground”. Here, Diplo does exactly what he’s great at; suppling the right music and collaborations to keep us motivated. High Ground, features collaborations with the likes of Tove Lo, Kah-Lo and Blond:ish.
On Win Win, Tove Lo sings the first verse over a heavy bass, about a night of love with a person who is hurting:
“I know you're hurting, but I can kiss you better
21. Simon Says - Megan Thee Stallion feat. Juicy J
Back in 2017, a freestyle clip of a gorgeous, tall, black woman rapping in the streets a suburban neighborhood went viral on Twitter. That woman, is an aspiring rapper from Houston, Texas, (Megan Pete) by the stage name Megan Thee Stallion. Following a few smaller EPs, she released a full debut EP in 2018, named after one of her alter-egos, Tina Snow. In November of the same year, she signed with 300 Entertainment and in late May of 2019, released her debut album Fever.
While no singles have officially been released, the track "Simon Says" stands out most at first listen. It is a club centered melody, built by loud 808 bass, clapping sounds, and a slightly eerie electronic sound kit. An ode to the popular childhood follow-the-leader game, in the chorus, Megan encourages the listener to get loose by rapping,
“Simon says put your hands on your hips, huh
By the time the chorus is over, it is clear that the beat is made for moving and of course, twerking that induces naturally. Not that Megan Thee Stallion needs help rapping about risqué situations, but Juicy J also jumps on a verse here, and it is also in line with the tune.
20. Tu Vecina - Maluma feat. Ty Dolla $ign
Everyone has that one nosey neighbor on their block, who is always home and always watching. She sees everything and notices when patterns in the neighborhood begin, end, and change. In Maluma’s new song "Tu Vecina" (“Your Neighbor”, being the English translation from Spanish), is worried about a lover’s nosy neighbor, singing:
“Tu vecina wonders why we been so quiet lately
The suave Colombian Reggaeton star Maluma, who has been making music since 2012, also broke into the the worldwide charts since 2016, with his single featuring Fifth Harmony Sin Contrato, and more recently with Medellín, his collaboration with Madonna. His latest album “11:11”, features artists from the US and many other countries.
With Tu Vecina, Maluma teamed up with the massively popular producer and R&B artist Ty Dolla $ign for a bilingual dance track. It resembles an older song; think Latin piano for cha-cha dancing, that starts off alongside Maluma’s voice. This quickly becomes mixed in with a pulsating bass beat and some electronic sounds. The lyrics bring about a topic that is primarily sexual, where Ty Dolla $ign’s verse at the end provides a familiar feel for his danceable sound makeup.
While a music video has not been released yet, there has been a ‘Pseudo Video” for the song posted on YouTube. It features a light blonde woman, looking into the camera, and a bit messed up, going down an elevator to a car. Its a 3 minute trip, but it leads us to believe that an actual video will be released, and that this song is the next single. Take a look below, and get to know Maluma. You will thank us later.
19. Doin’ Time - Lana Del Rey
Over the years, with the evolution of Lana Del Rey, fans have been blessed to heard so much. Each era there’s a slight change to her sound and to the arrangement of her moody lyrics. Somewhere along, she is able to maintain her own lane of artistry. Combining sugar baby beats with her triumphes from being a broken woman, Lana’s latest single, hits that known aesthetic right on the head with the line from the song, “Summertime, and the livin's easy”
In honor of the band Sublime, and the soon to be released documentary on the band, Lana covered the band’s huge 90’s hit “Doin’ Time”. The single has gained the praise of the remaining band members (Lead singer Bradley Nowell passed in 1996) in a statement about the doc, which is an honor and gives this single even more energy. Lana Del Rey covers this song so well, that she doesn’t even change any of the pronouns or lyrics in any way. The arrangement is a bit different, as the tempo is seemingly slower than the original and the accompanying instruments are tuned down. It’s all so very Lana Del Rey; the transition is notably good at the beginning, when you hear that little strum as she starts singing the chorus. It could trigger goosebumps for the right listener.
“Bradley's on the microphone with Ras MG
And you’re instantly on the PCH in a convertible, with sunglasses on. It’s that magical.
18. Blame It On Your Love - Charli XCX feat. Lizzo
UK Pop sensation Charli XCX, via twitter, recruited the world’s fastest rising star Lizzo, to collaborate with her on a new song. Fans went crazy seeing their faves tweeting each other back in forth, right in front of them online, and then the anticipation for the single started. That track, “Blame It On Your Love”, came out this past week, and it is a light and danceable pop hit. Most stans know this, but the new release with Lizzo is actually a remix to the XCX Track 10, from her 2017 album Pop 2. The re-working of the track, gives the song a second life and more recognition it deserves.
With a fast tempo but slower sounding music, Blame It On Your Love has an innocent, soft vibe to it; despite the artist’s typical young, wild, and free M-O. The radio-pop beat is an electronic mix of hi-hat and lower kick-drum sounds, and the music is mostly electronic keys and matching instruments. Charli XCX sings the first two verses and the chorus, and Lizzo sing-raps the last one. The lyrics tell of the girls not reciprocating the same level of feelings to their lovers; pushing them away, rather than bring them in closer.
In verse two, Charli sings:
“Sorry I'm a little scared
And then shortly after in the chorus:
“Every time you get too close I run, I run away (I run away)
With summer approaching, both Charli XCX and Lizzo are likely working on visuals for new songs. We are hopeful, that there will be a Blame It On Your Love music video is in the works, too. They would be wrong not to make one, especially while their fan bases overlap. While the duo teaming up was unexpected, it was everything you could ask for from pop’s rising and funky frontrunners.
17. Cologne - Isaac Dunbar
15-year-old, Rising Pop vocalist, Isaac Dunbar’s latest single, “Cologne”, is making a name for himself, following the success of his previous single, “freshman year”. In his latest single, Dunbar poses the question, “do you remember my cologne?” The song begins with an almost ominous chorus of voices, then enters into Dunbar’s chorus. Overall, it isn’t a very bright feeling, however you get a light and causal vibe from the tone progression. There’s a piano that is carried through the entire beat, with some synthesized sounds and a surrounding chorus of voices.
I’m the first verse, he sings vaguely of another man to what could be an ex, or a love interest, but it’s hard to tell:
“Do you feel how I feel?
With only a handful of songs out in total, it’s hard to get a feel for what this emerging artists sound will be this early on, but we are excited to hear more it as it manifests naturally.
16. Shea Butter Baby - Ari Lennox
Rising R&B artist Ari Lennox, recently gained popularity with her J. Cole collaboration track, “Shea Butter Baby”, of which also became the title of Lennox’s newly released debut album. Ari Lennox described her sound as, “soul. There’s no gimmicks. It’s feeling.", during a conversation with Erbo on Beats1. On Shea Butter Baby, Ari sings on point with the music in the background, as it takes on a vintage feel with some Caribbean vibes. J. Cole’s vocals slide into the verse and amplify the emotions in of the work. Lennox, herself, sings of a lover getting hot and heavy, wherever they can get it:
“You lost in the shape of my hips
Throughout the album, you hear more of what Lennox is feeling but transcribed in different ways. On "Broke", she speaks to being in a lower place – with less money – but how she was still able to enjoy herself. In "Chicago Boy", she sings over jazzy instruments, to a boy that she thinks is attractive, but doesn't want to necessarily be with.
The music video have been out, since the song was used for the movie Creed II. It’s a dim and interesting visual; it shows Lennox singing to her man, while a women draped in silk, dances besides them. It doesn’t quite convey the meaning behind the song, but it is gorgeous.
15. Triggered (freestyle) - Jhené Aiko
R&B’s soulfully-angelic beauty, Jhené Aiko has been somewhat absent from the music world as of this year, but is now back in it with her freestyle single, “Triggered”. Having been featured on a few tracks last year, we have not gotten much of her, since 2017’s Trip. There is a completely different vibe with the freestyle; as things in her personal life have shifted, so has her music.
Jhené Aiko recently revealed online that her next album will be a mix of different life experiences, told through freestyle songs. She also tweeted that Triggered is not a diss song: She has also been experimenting with many different many sounds that promote healing within the soul.
This new album will be so different than the last, “Trip”, because now Aiko is triggered! Not your typical freestyle, Triggered is all singing, but still has a rap-flow. It carries a beautiful piano at the beginning and her voice layers perfectly on top of it. As the song builds, a bass and drum beat hits you, and then quickly fades out again. As Aiko changes her emotions from feelings of angry to being hurt and sad, the music changes along with her. She channels being set off by her ex’s face, his name, and his memory. She then sings in the outro:
“I'm triggered, when I see your face
14. I Dont Care - Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber
As you grow older, you naturally start to distance yourself from “younger” activities, such as “annoying” parties. It’s just a matter of fact. But instead, you look for a partner that can make all the annoying young activities go away, and make you happy with even just their presence.
In the new single “I Don't Care”, both Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber sing of their lovers, who make them feel alive in any given situation. I Don’t Care is a quite simple song; beginning with just a snare and some minor and consistent electronic sounds, mainly complied of 808s and some keyboard fillers. The guys serenade the ladies in one of the best ways possible. Sheeran sings the first half of the song alone and Bieber sings the second half. They even duet a bit in the chorus':
“'Cause I don't care when I'm with my baby, yeah
This weekend, a trailer was released for the music video: Scooter Braun, Bieber’s manager, tweeted a picture of both Ed and Justin standing in front of a green screen, hinting at the project before the single was even released. While the track features both artists, it is hard to say if just one or both of the guys are going to be releasing any other more music, as Bieber did recently declared the fans, that he needed time to himself before coming back to work on the new music.
13. Love Me & Let Me Go - Ashley Tisdale
The long-awaited — dare we say — return of an ex-Disney Channel starlette is upon us, once more! Ashley Tisdale, known for many roles, but especially in playing Sharpay Evans in the High School Musical saga, and as part of the The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, cast. Now, at 33 years old, and 10 years since her last album, Tisdale has aged her taste in music, like fine wine. It's all still pretty poppy, just more grown.
Her latest album is titled, “Symptoms” and last year the lead single “Voices in My Head” was released, getting her fans hyped for her comeback. Her latest single is titled, “Love Me & Let Me Go”. It is an emotional yet fun track, that plays on asking a lover to leave her behind; because she is done. The song begins; instantly with vocals over a light electric guitar strum and a snap, which evolves into a heavy beat and electronic sounds and vocal amplifications. Pop girl magic, for sure.
Ashley sings in the second verse:
“Thank you for the bad times and the land mines
Which lets us believe this is was a pretty toxic relationship, and she feels relieved to be alone. In the last chorus, she affirms this singing:
“I've been looking for the nightlight switch
In her music video, she sings at the camera, alone, in many artsy situations. She looks at the camera through cut-outs in see-through neon plastic lenses. Then, she is in the bathtub with a bralette on, being a bit more sensual with her movements. All in all, Tisdale looks stunning, revealing just the right amount of vulnerability and security:
12. Play - Derek King
With the online success of his first single “Tetris”, Bay Area native Derek King, released his follow up single, “Play”. The track samples, Diddy’s “I Need a Girl, Pt. 2”, and adds a little Bay beat into the bit. Derek invites a girl to be his girlfriend, with the promises of spoiling her. The melody begins with the classic guitar strum re-worked from the sample and then you hear the bass come in with the lyrics. He raps during the chorus:
“Baby please don’t play wit it,
Derek King asked her to take him seriously and be with him. The lyrics are not meant to be insightful, but they are honest, and they get people up to dance. After releasing an EP last year (on his own, without a label) King is back and hitting more ear drums with his latest. The video for Play is out and it features King rapping in a house with a lot of beautiful young women. They go from the inside, to the outside, to the pool, and although nobody ever gets in the water, swimsuits are necessary.
11. Started - Iggy Azalea
Iggy Azalea is back in her bag, and not looking back. After her very recent separation from her old label, she has been in the studio working very intently on producing her new music and accompanying new look. This year she has released two singles, the sassy track Sally Walker and her latest called “Started”.
Started, begins with Iggy rapping over a bass beat, but the song slowly brings in some other sounds. At first listen, you more-so focus on Azalea’s lyrics and voice than anything else. She sounds loud and confident with her strong tone, and the lyrics work appropriately. The chorus (which she uses to start off the song) goes:
“I started from the bottom and now I'm rich
In the NSFW music video, Iggy is out to get her sugar daddy (in more ways than one). Everyone looks snatched and serves many looks, but no spoilers. You can see for yourself, how she wears modern-era Fran Fine inspired outfits throughout this piece. Iggy even gets some help from Drag Race’s best, Trixie Mattel and Mrs. Vanjie:
10. Baby Boy - Kevin Abstract
Artist-group Brockhampton’s founding member, Kevin Abstract, released second portion of his three part album, “ARIZONA BABY”. His latest single and music video is for one of the newest tracks, “Baby Boy”.
Baby Boy, in particular, is fairly slow; a reminiscent song about Kevin’s ex-boyfriend. There are a few tasteful qualities to appreciate in this song alone. It’s carries a faint finger picked electric guitar and heavily distorted bass line, laid over a specialized drum kit. Kevin sings and raps in this track, mixing falsetto with his natural voice.
He makes the notions of missing his ex when he closes his eyes. In the last verse he states:
“Tell me if I'm in the right here
The visuals start off with a couple; a boy and girl, and the boy is telling the girl what he likes about her. Then it goes into people walking like zombies and getting into formations absentmindedly. It does not seem to register a point at first glance, but then could later be interpreted as the people who are lost after a breakup. Abstract directed the video, and other members of Brockhampton are featured in it, as well.
The 22 year old rapper/singer is being praised for his latest work online by critics and loving fans, alike. The next round of songs are to be added soon and we cannot wait to listen to the rest of it. Other notable tracks from the ARIZONA BABY album include: “Peach” and “Crumble”.
9. Eagle Birds - The Black Keys
I cannot count on all of my phalanges, (yah, I said phalanges) just how many times my dad has said, “They just don’t seem to make Rock & Roll like they used to…”. And now, I can pull up the latest Black Keys song, to prove him wrong. The versatile band released a new single, “Eagle Birds”, and it feel leans towards classic 1970’s hard electric guitar, with drums and smooth vocal overlays.
The Black Keys band has been around for almost 20 years, always holding true to their bluesy melodies while playing with different grass root sounds along the way (listen to “Turn Blue”, their most recent album released in 2014, for an encompassing idea of their tunes). With Eagle Birds, they wanted to stay tapped into those roots, and pull deeper, for their next project. They also announced along with the single, that a new album by the name of “Let’s Rock", will be out later this year.
Eagle Birds is about loneliness and how nobody really wants it. The lyrics are semi-abstract, but you can gather what he means, by the last chorus:
“You can search forever you might
8. Ride - Lolo Zouaï
New York electro-pop singer and songwriter Lolo Zouaï (“zoo-eye”) recently released her debut album, “High Highs to Low Lows”. Named after her 2017 single – of the same name, that went viral – it showcases Lolo’s wide range of both lyrical and musical sound. For example, the sultry half-French "Moi", (Lolo is fluent in both English and French) goes from one speed to another, changing the sound and feel of the track, completely. Lolo immigrated to San Francisco with her family at a young age and this also comes through, in her fashion choices.
The latest single from the album, "Ride" leans more towards pop, but with a hi-hat beat and subtly easy vocalizations from Lolo’s soft voice. The track starts with a simple guitar melody and then evolves into this electronic dance-club number. It literally, is a ride, the whole way through.
The lyrics are about how this man does not love her, but loves to make love to her. In the first verse, she sings:
“You don't want me
She seems to like this power, singing about it in the second verse as well.
The video is also a ride; a bit wild and pretty low profile. It shows Lolo riding, (in many ways, as expected), but also on her motorcycle cuddling a girl, and lying on a different motorcycle altogether by herself. It’s distant, it’s emo, and it’s rad. This rising young artist has impressed us in many ways, and with this debut album, we hope she continues to further succeed. We want to see more of what she has to say, and how she will continue to express it though her visuals and fashion choices.
7. Jerome - Lizzo
Rapper, Singer, and Empowerment HipHop artist Lizzo, released her very highly anticipated third album, “Cuz I Love You”, and the reviews are in. With her recent career blow-up, she is seeing so much success, and is pushing the boundaries of the music industry along the way. While we have to agree with most, that the whole album is so beautifully arranged, we wanted to focus on “Jerome”; a ballad to a man that Lizzo no longer wants to deal with.
The music is slightly, Rihanna’s "Love On The Brain", but with a keyboard instead of a guitar, and in a much slower key; the beat is more-so a simple hi-hat and kick drum. Horn and woodwind instruments pitch in throughout and Lizzo soulfully sings to Jerome, asking him to “come back when you’re grown”. In terms of layout, this track is a sharp contrast to Lizzo’s overall image and sound (at the moment), yet she keeps it sassy with the lyrics and her performance of them. Halfway through her break-up letter, she sings:
“I never said I was perfect
Then, in her classic Lizzo way, says:
“I ain't that kind of chick, but I can call 'em for you if you want”
The shade of it all. She continues with:
“I never said that you wasn't attractive
With such confidence, she channels Tia and Tamera and asks her lover to go home. Her vocal range is fully showcased here and it adds to the glory of her entire album. While Jerome may not become a single, we appreciate it and want you to enjoy it, too. Also take a listen to the sensual “Lingerie” and the powerful “Like a Girl”, as well!
6. Heard It All Before - Dinah Jane
Everyone has a breaking point, and Dinah Jane has hit hers with her man, in her newest single, “Heard It All Before”. The rising post-Fifth Harmony member continues her exploration through R&B with the release of her first EP, aptly titled “Dinah Jane 1”, which includes this single, as well as two other tracks, "Pass Me By" and "Fix It".
Heard It All Before has a drum beat that makes the song danceable, but the lyrics and vocals are a bit more reminiscent of an early 2000’s R&B song. She even plays into this aesthetic in the music video; using a flip-phone and dressing like JLo and R&B stars of that time (bucket hat, lots of denim, gold hoops). Her and her girlfriends dance around her room in underwear and pajamas — typical sleepover activities — while she sings to a racially ambiguous underwear model, that she is done. Basically, the lesson at play is about moving on from your man 101. It is cute, playful, and clearly shows off Dinah Jane’s dancing chops.
Jane sings of all the excuses she’s heard before from her man, and lets him know she’s done and moving on. She reminds him of her loyalty in the second verse, and makes the statement that she is done with him:
“What you say won't change the way I feel
Three years of the same behaviour with no growth? Nobody. Has. The. Time.
“Case you forgot let me just remind you that I...
This three-part EP is surely a brief introduction to what Jane will sound like, for her upcoming debut album. The melodies also slightly remind listeners of a project you would come to hear from the popular hit TV music series, “Star”. Dinah Jane had a running start with her single Bottled Up, but with this EP and an accompany music video, it only pushes her farther ahead into her own lane. Here, Jane’s vocal range fits seamlessly well for a Pop-R&B star and it really sounds like she’s finding her niche in the oversaturated R&B space.
5. Tame Impala - Borderline
After laying low for many years as a psychedelic-indie, the hidden gem and multi-talented Australian artist, Tame Impala has been on steadily back on the rise. Kevin Parker, who writes, produces, and performs all Tame Impala songs, gained worldwide recognition after superstar Rihanna covered his song, "New Person, Same Old Mistakes"on her multi-platinum album Anti (re-dubbed as ‘Same ‘Ol Mistakes) in 2016. With Tame Impala on the incline, comes new music, as experimental and as original has Parker has created in the past. His latest creation, “Borderline”, follows Tame Impala’s classic vibe; transic, soft vocals, and gorgeous layered music.
Borderline was released as an official single this past week, just in time for his Coachella performance; which is also the current cultural beginning of where spring fashion and music, meet. Tame Impala has released a few other singles and also had a featured performance on SNL a couple of weeks ago, in anticipation of Impala’s new album.
The track starts with a gentile electric guitar and Parker’s vocals — which are also noteledy — a falsetto dream. There is a very simple drum beat in the back of the room and that is really it. He knows how to keep it simple, when necessary. When the song starts and you close your eyes, you can almost feel the sun on your skin, and the ice cold lemonade in your hands.
The lyrics tell a story of a couple (not specifically a romantic couple), on the borderline of separating or sticking together. The song does not follow a typical format, but the verses and choruses change length and placement throughout; this adds momentum to the production of Parker’s psychadelic feel. After verse two, Parker sings:
“We're on the borderline
While most of us have likely been in a similar situation, where one decision will drastically affect the relationship or situation, it is hard to determine which outcome Parker prefers here with such lyrics.
4. Make It Better - Anderson.Paak feat. Smokey Robinson
Modern R&B staple, Anderson.Paak proves he is here to stay, especially by working with Motown R&B legend Smokey Robinson. After Paak’s recent Grammy win, he announced his new album, “Ventura” was to be released this April 12, almost exactly 5 months after the release of his last album, “Oxnard”. With fans overjoyed by news of another album, he released his first two singles from the new work: “King James” and “Make It Better”.
Make It Better is a smooth, jazzy tune about the decision to walk away from a struggling relationship, or to put in the work and reconnect. The song is led by a funky bass line, with an electric guitar/violin duet that goes back and forth throughout. Anderson sings the primary vocals, and Smokey fills in the harmonies and chorus with his iconic voice; the cherry on top of this beautiful R&B masterpiece.
The lyrics are sweet, with Anderson.Paak reminding his love that they are not on the same level that they used to be on, but that they can both make new memories if they work at it together. Paak starts off by singing:
“How do you mend when you're worlds apart?
Not absorbing all fault, but not completely pushing it on her either; decent communication. Later in the song, he lets her know his ideas for how to improve things:
“When you take somebody for your own
The visuals show the ebbs and flows between Paak and his lady friend — from the night they first locked eyes, to the times they are yelling at each other — showing they can learn to love again. They both are well-dressed for the constant cloudy weather of whichever city they live in, and the visual shows that drastic contrast between the good and bad times in the relationship.
With the very near release of Ventura, this will surely not be the last single we get from the new cycle. As Paak continues to experiment with her take on R&B, we will continue to be avid listeners.
3. Paradise - Bazzi
In 2018, the Michigan born artist Bazzi gained noriability with his song Mine, which was hard to miss on the radio as it broke into the top ten on the Billboard hot 100. The single itself, was released in 2017 but gained popularity in the following year. Now, just a minor two short years later, he is working to release a follow up album to his debut, “Cosmic”. He has been working on his own music and also writing for K-Pop groups to build his resume, when needed.
Bazzi’s new R&B/Electronic track is a love letter, by the name of, “Paradise”. It is not as raunchy or as immature as what could be expected from a 21 year, but it is still playful enough as it experiments vocally.
Paradise carries a mid-tempo, featuring string instruments and an electronic bass line over a heavy 808 beat. The instruments interchange equally and mesh perfectly in with the vocals; which range from shouting to beautiful soft vocalizations. Bazzi sings of his own paradise — despite a traditional definition to some, as featuring beaches or the lush jungle — that can be made anywhere with the right person, and apparently, with the right amount of alcohol, too. The chorus of the clarifies the main point of the song:
“Let's go to (Paradise)
The music video itself, makes some subtly great statements; both in fashion and in celebration. It starts off with Bazzi in a formal black suit and tie, and progresses to other narratives, where he wears a white mock neck sweater, followed by denim on denim attire and a very wet white t-shirt. It features Bazzi and his love interest throughout; a beautiful young lady cuddling under the stars, partying, and even watching a ballerina perform in a glass windowed bedroom. What the video does, is show inclusivity and diversity, as it displays other young couples of multiple genders and races, embracing and kissing. There are also short scenes that zoom in on many different people, who are mouthing the lyrics as well; this aims to present the idea that paradise is subject to interpretation by everyone.
Paradise can mean so many things to different people, but most can probably agree, being with the one you love can make everything seem like you’re in heaven. This track is also featured in an upcoming film, such as The Sun is Also a Star, where it will come to new listeners across the world.
2. bad guy - Billie Eilish
Fast-rising, pop alternative artist Billie Eilish releases her highly anticipated album titled, “WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” this week, and critics are raving over it. Since the release of her single, “you should see me in a crown”, hype and rumors have been flying around online about what the dark young artist and her producer brother would have up their sleeves for this second time project.
The newest single released is “bad guy”, with a faster beat and rhythm then we are used to hearing from previous Eilish singles. The sound progression is something that so different in terms of a traditional cord layout; as it changes tempo throughout and then finally, leads up to a complete bass breakdown. Starting off with a stripped back melody and light vocals, a drum-clapping beat and keyboard tones phase in through the chorus, keeping an attention to the upbeat narrative. The last 45-ish seconds of the song are completely different; an electric, spooky, and dark verse that carries deep vocals.
The lyrics are very on-brand for Eilish, while accurately unexpected. With controversial stanzas such as:
“Bruises on both my knees for you
Don't say thank you or please
I do what I want when I'm wanting to
My soul? So cynical”
*Lifts eyebrow* To the “average”:
“My mommy likes to sing along with me
But she won't sing this song
If she reads all the lyrics
She'll pity the men I know”
The music video for bad guy was released at the conclusion of March and several points were made. Eilish appears first through a paper made wall and hands her invisalign — to what looks like — a security guard. Her style is more masculine in general; baggy shirts and heavy pants. She wears thick chokers with metal embellishments, while she sings in front of middle aged round men, and also sits on the back of another man doing push-ups. It’s a masterpiece and at the same time, it’s also a mess. It is respectively, Eilish after all; she is systematically unmatched and can’t be replicated in the slightest.
1. Thinkin Bout You - Ciara
Singer, Ciara announced at the end of March, that her seventh studio album (a first in four years), will be released this May 10th. “Beauty Marks”, the anticipated new album will include the previously released singles, “Level Up”, “Dose”, and “Greatest Love”, and will be released on Ciara’s own label by the same name. In the same announcement, Ciara released a fourth single, "Thinkin Bout You"; a bassy-love letter that is impossible to resist.
The musical elements contain a light drum beat, under a very loud and busy, yet, quite consistent bass line; familiar in makeup, to a Prince or Janelle Monae groove. There is a subtle amount of keyboard in the melody too, but the final layer is Ciara’s voice. It is high and airy, which is exactly what the lyrics call for here.
The words literally describe the when and in how, CiCi thinks about her man. In the first verse, she sings:
“I've been thinkin' 'bout you
Wondering who's stuck in your head at night
Wonder if I ever cross your mind (Yeah)
Keeping you up in your bed at night (Ooh-ooh)
I've been thinkin' 'bout you (Uh)
I can't get you off the brain (No)”
The music video — which features Ciara getting dolled up and having a blast while doing it — was published on Friday, March 29, and obtained over two million views by Sunday, March 31.
She starts off in a lavish bubble bath, and follows that by dancing across her beautiful bedroom in a yellow graphic crop top and baby doll shorts. She then tries on wigs and floats in the air, in a plush white robe. Ending the video, she struts down the stairs in a front-tie, bralette with arms, and black bell bottom pants (think Selena, here). A very easy and simple video, but it goes well with the song and shows off Ciara's top notch dance skills.
While the visual carries a simple attitude, it is still an all around poppy dance track, built for the upbeat car playlist. Sure, Thinkin Bout You is catchy and easy to move along to, but it is nothing like her first three singles; which gives us a glimpse into how diverse Beauty Marks will really be for the longtime artist.
Tyler J. Drinnen, is the Founder and Editor in Chief of iTEM MAGAZINE,
a poet and freelance fashion writer, photographer and abstract visual content producer.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies from Sonoma State University, where he wrote a weekly Opinion Column For
The Star, dabbled with his own radio podcast format, titled Saturday Nite Scandal, and helped to create one of the first of 25 Professional Student Lead PR Firms in the USA.
From there on, he continued his work by interning with Sonoma Discoveries Magazine and then shortly after wrote and interned for Fashion School Daily, where he solidified his love for feature writing and working with emerging talents from around the world.
In December of 2016, he received an Honorary Master of Arts in Fashion Journalism from the Academy of Art University. And what an achievement that was, to be the first in his program to have graduated a full semester early. Bringing him to four degrees in a short five and a half years, nothing will stop him from bringing art to the eyes of many.
He has worked in the fashion industry for nearly a decade, from commercial retail management to corporate level ghost writing. Now - he the poet - T.J.D. takes his life public with the independent launch of the urban California lifestyle based fashion-art movement, iTEM MAGAZINE: A Platform For Rising Artists.