Video & Audio: Shameless recycling
that's just my baby boo
Kelsea Ballerini: “Heartfirst”
It took her until she was 29, but here’s the perfect country-teenpop blend she’s been striving for all career. There’s desire, a sunny melody, implied fucking, a proper bridge. Alas, she separated from her husband a couple of months back so we’re getting a trauma album next, though it might be good.
Ive: “After Like”
A great sample is a great sample, and the lesson of “Big Energy” is that you don’t have to do anything new with it to sound fine on the radio and profit thereof. And yet if you’re some kind of artist, you should be able to find some new context without sacrificing shamelessness. For example, one could appropriate the strings from “I Will Survive” as a post-chorus following up on the gnomic chromatic question “what’s after like?”, and then re-recontextualize by rapping over it the next time.
Muni Long & Saweetie: “Baby Boo”
Or you can take two old ideas and meld them into a new one. The sample here is from the Ghost Town DJ’s classic “My Boo”, but the other clear (if uncredited) inspiration is B-Rock and the Bizz’s slightly classic-er “MyBabyDaddy”. Here, Muni Long (who co-wrote Miranda and Carrie’s “Somethin’ Bad” a name change ago) shows a sweetness and a spiritedness here that I hope streaming algorithms, or more realistically the Grammys, reward.
Lainey Wilson: “Heart Like a Truck”
We are getting close to the theoretical limit for truck-related figures of speech in country (let’s not even get into what the horse in the video signifies.) Lainey’s heart “runs on dreams and gasoline”, and though someone should refer her to a mechanic and/or cardiologist immediately, she drawls good and her bass player is as effective as any pacecar/pacemaker.
Steve Lacy: “Bad Habit”
Finally, a new generation is dragging progressive-yet-commercial R&B out of the formless funk (pejorative) Frank Ocean put it into for years. I hope next he’ll listen to only the Stylistics for a year so he can reject the additional Ocean trademark of bad falsetto, but one thing at a time.
Viviz: “Love You Like”
For tune hounds mostly, a rare example of a chorus that’s both melodically and rhythmically catchy, especially the “think about think about” part that gushes right through the tonal center from below. Then there’s a bonus B-chorus with long notes to make you go aww. Then: a key change.
Teno Afrika: “Lerato La Bass”
Amapiano contains multitudes: there’s the ultra-commercial stuff lighting up clubs all over Gauteng province, there are records that are basically IDM without the insulting initialism, and there are songs like this that bop along pleasantly enough until cymbals crash then BZZZZT
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The Front Bottoms: “More Than It Hurts You”
I don’t know whether this counts as third-wave emo (when the song was written) or fifth-wave (when it was recorded) or whether we still have to pretend that “folk punk” is a disjoint thing, but I bet Brian Sella will still be agonizing over his haircut during Wave Twelve. This would be good inasmuch as it implies he will not be dead, dismembered, and washed up on the New Jersey Shore by then.
Dylan Scott: “New Truck”
This is it; this is the re-truck-tio ad absurdum. Dylan’s ex left some scrunchies in the cab and now he’s considering pushing his $30k blue book value ride off a bridge. In the video, well, I’d’ve accused him of missing a
truck trick if it didn’t end with him gesticulating in front of a flaming wreck. This is why we have inflation, America.
Girls Generation: “You Better Run”
In which Taeyeon, Yuri, Seohyun, and Tiffany keep up with an overstimulated synth break before the less conscientious half of the band reminds them they’re rich now so they don’t have to.
Celestine Ukwu: “Tomorrow Is So Uncertain” (1973)
“No matter your pride or position/This world continues without you.” And without your truck.