V’s New Music Round-Up

Here are some of the best and biggest releases of the week

Hello and welcome! Let’s use this space for something a little more urgent, a little more pressing, a little more unlike our usual introductions: go. get. the. vaccine. for. the. love. of. all. that. is. holy.

And on that note, welcome to V’s new music round-up, where we tune you into some of the week’s biggest and best releases, whether they be singles or albums.

Here are this week’s top picks:

Reverie by Ben Platt

Image courtesy of Atlantic

All three people who read this column regularly (hey y’all!) know that I use the term “midnight music” sometimes as a way to describe a specific sound, and I’m going to give that tag to this album right here. But that’s because I love it so, there’s some dark beauty to the warbling synths and synthesized vocal effects on each track. You hear shades of the theatrics of Platt on songs like “dark times,” but this is an artist who’s steeped in a sound we don’t often hear in the mainstream apart from gems like Carly Rae Jepsen.

The End of an Era by Iggy Azalea

Image courtesy of Bad Dreams Records/EMPIRE

Azalea announced that she would be taking an extended hiatus from music after the release of this album. It’s not a bad note to go out on. The album is a lot more evocative of early, mixtape Iggy, the kind that just let loose and had fun a little more. There aren’t as many stakes to this record as there have been in her past. As a result, it’s a little less powerful, but it’s a lot more chill and effervescent, kind of like the early 2010s in mainstream hip-hop.

“Rumors” by Lizzo ft. Cardi B

Image courtesy of Nice Life Recording Company and Atlantic

This seems like the perfect song to usher in Lizzo’s comeback, since it completely hoes head on to reference everything that’s been going on in her world and ours since we last saw her. She and Cardi are two artists no one can stop talking about, so it makes sense to bring their unabashed confidence to a song that’s so referential and honest, plus a very strong song of the summer contender. Now if only the rumors about Lizzo having baby Captain America were true…

“papercuts” by Machine Gun Kelly

Image courtesy of Bad Boy/Interscope Records

There’s no denying Machine Gun Kelly’s really going deep into the rock route, and “papercuts” just solidifies that. It may be too hard and too slow for those who’re more used to MGK’s more pop-punk aesthetic, but it’s kind of like a fitting end to that era. It introduces us to an MGK who’s willing to rock out so much harder without actually having to go all in and amp it up.

“Don’t Be Shy” by Tiësto and Karol G

Image courtesy of Musical Freedom

Tiësto leans more into the mellow sounds he’s been exploring ever since the pandemic hit, and he recruits Colombian superstar Karol G to accompany him. Karol’s output is usually a lot more upbeat and full of flavor and spice, but there’s something alluring to her voice and cadence when paired with a melody that’s more straightforward. For her first full song in English, she does a good job of sounding like she’s been in this EDM business forever.

“Que Locura” by J Balvin

Image courtesy of Sueños Globales

J Balvin fans are probably going mad everywhere they can now that the artist has officially announced his new album will be out in less than a month. “Que Locura” serves as a nice introduction to the record, a clean and crisp record that, honestly, grows on you. It seems maybe repetitive at first, till you start listening more intently and appreciating the simple touches to the background melodies. Eventually the chorus just lodges itself into your head, never to depart.

“Cold Heart – PNAU Remix” by Elton John, Dua Lipa, and PNAU

Image courtesy of Mercury Records Limited

Taking on a remix for John’s classic “Sacrifice” (my favorite song of his, thanks mom) would always be a strong ask, because there’s just so much pain and feel to the original. But then having Lipa come in with lyrics from “Rocket Man” and pair it with Australian trio PNAU’s beat, that stays soft and consistent, creates a winner of a track. It’s danceable but still has that same sadness to it that the original does and doesn’t turn it up too much to lose what made it special.

“OUT OUT” by Joel Corry and Jax Jones ft. Charli XCX and Saweetie

Image courtesy of Asylum Records UK

“OUT OUT” is exactly what it intends to be: a catchy dance track that’s perfect for clubs (or dreams of clubs). There’s no complicated formula to it, it’s just about having fun and being the sort of simulation for a high that you could ask for. Charli’s voice is perfectly suited for that kind of beat, and Saweetie proves why she’s one of the hottest rappers in the business right now.

“How Many” by Saleka

Image courtesy of Saleka Music

What Saleka manages to create is a powerful protest song that isn’t so much rooted in a call for action, but relies more on letting the listener arrive at that conclusion naturally. It employs a smooth and pleasing R&B beat and underlying melody to languish on everything’s wrong with this world, as the singer wonders how many more people will lose their lives before things start moving.

“Off My Neck” by Carlie Hanson

Image courtesy of Warner Records

It’s an interesting balancing act when artists try to create a healthy medium between anger and sadness. The two often go hand-in-hand and it’s hard to distinguish one from the other. What Hanson does here is acknowledge that there’s no easy way to separate them sometimes and just leans into both, taking over a slick guitar line (right out of early years 5SOS) to lament the demise of a friendship by asking someone to “cut my head off my neck.” And it really works because of it.


Image courtesy of VIDEO STORE

The chaotic turmoil of this track is pretty capably balanced out by the easy strings that’s almost reminiscent of one of those early 2000s pop hits that you’d hear in every teen movie. You’re walking into school, it’s the opening scenes, they’re setting the stage for where you stand in the hierarchy, and this is the song that plays. Although, in this case, there’s ups and downs in the riffs and beats, there’s talk of video games and choking. It’s this clash of madness that comes together in an inexplicably amazing way.

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