May’s Top 3 Songs You HAVE to Hear

May 30

May’s Top 3 Songs You HAVE to Hear

Rarely can music fans come together and reach a consensus on the state of music today. One person’s musical bull market is often another’s end of the world as we know it, and then there’s the middle ground where we just shrug and go listen to OK Computer for the 3,000th time. And that’s fine. We all process living in this at-our-fingertips age differently, where there’s more than ever (from wherever and whenever) to embrace, dismiss, or “meh” at. Truthfully, I probably spent more time in 1987 than I did in 2016 last year music-wise, but months like May keep me firmly in the present. There are fresh faces, welcome returns, and artists both carving out and capping off legacies that we’ll be talking about for years to come. I dare you to look through the list of songs that follows and not find something that makes you thankful that you just pushed <play>. And if not, then scamper back to whatever does make you feel that way. It’s all good, and we’ll try again together next month.

3. Roger Waters – Deja Vu

Rarely can music fans come together and reach a consensus on the state of music today. One person’s musical bull market is often another’s end of the world as we know it, and then there’s the middle ground where we just shrug and go listen to OK Computer for the 3,000th time. And that’s fine. We all process living in this at-our-fingertips age differently, where there’s more than ever (from wherever and whenever) to embrace, dismiss, or “meh” at. Truthfully, I probably spent more time in 1987 than I did in 2016 last year music-wise, but months like May keep me firmly in the present. There are fresh faces, welcome returns, and artists both carving out and capping off legacies that we’ll be talking about for years to come. I dare you to look through the list of songs that follows and not find something that makes you thankful that you just pushed <play>. And if not, then scamper back to whatever does make you feel that way. It’s all good, and we’ll try again together next month.

2. CARLY RAE JEPSEN – “CUT TO THE FEELING”

It shouldn’t be a complete surprise that “Cut to the Feeling” is so strong, particularly because it leaked a couple months ago to the delight of Carly Rae Jepsen fans everywhere. But still, considering the strength of the album whose sessions it was taken from, Emotion, and that she already released a B-sides collection that this also didn’t make the cut for, you have to wonder if there is anyone else producing as much quality pop music in bulk as Jepsen is right now. “Cut to the Feeling” isn’t just a holdover. It’s a bright, exuberant anthem that’s as playful and undeniable as any of Jepsen’s recent work. It’s easy to wonder just how many more of these types of songs Jepsen has sitting around, ready for a soundtrack (this one is for the film Leap!), but “Cut to the Feeling” is also a one-of-a-kind proposition. At her best, Jepsen crafts pop music that both fits into a great oeuvre and stands confidently on its own. It’s music to boost confidence and inspire. It’s pop at its most pure.

 

1. FUTURE FEAT. KENDRICK LAMAR – “MASK OFF”

“Mask Off” never needed a remix in the first place, if we’re being honest. The standout track on Future’s self-titled album transcends its rags-to-riches subject matter with an uncommonly vulnerable chorus (“mask on … fuck it, mask off”) and a pitch-perfect sample of Tommy Butler’s “Prison Song”. But as much as that flute complements Future’s flow, it certainly can’t hurt to throw in an extended guest verse courtesy of fire-breathing dragon and recently re-annointed King of Hip-Hop Kendrick Lamar.

Whereas Future rides the beat like it’s a chill wave, Lamar’s verse kicks and bucks with no regard for Metro Boomin’s laid-back production. This delivery is typical of Lamar — it’s as if he’s got more to get off his chest in each line than a single breath will allow — but the tension between the two rappers gives “Mask Off” a crucial new dimension. Lamar’s all bravado, busting into the liquor store with guns blazing, while Future sounds almost reluctant by comparison. It’s not quite Jekyll and Hyde, but it’s an interesting embodiment of the song’s central mask on/off motif and an affirmation that superstars can add new dimensions to each other’s talents (as if the Golden State Warriors hadn’t already proved that point).

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