V’s New Music Round-Up
Here are some of the biggest and best releases of the week
Hello and welcome! Remember when I thought last week was bad? Whoo boy, was I wrong! Things may seem like chaos, like a live action demonstration of Avatar: The Last Airbender, but it’s about finding the positive and light in these situations as we try to aid our fellow man. And once again, here we are for you! Welcome to V’s New Music Round-Up, where we tune you into the week’s most notable releases, whether they be singles or albums.
Here are this week’s top picks:
Certified Lover Boy by Drake
Certified Lover Boy started off so, so strong with the excellent “Champagne Poetry,” and just gets slightly underwhelming from then on. Like Donda (which we will get to), not only does it buckle under its length, it doesn’t live up to immense hype, it’s a lot more of the same from Drake. There’s immense promise but not enough pushing to meet it. At least, that’s from the listener’s POV, if this is the music that satisfies the artist, then who am I to judge? (just a critic, tbh)
Donda by Kanye West
Given all the immense hype surrounding Donda, it simultaneously is over and undercooked. It feels like it was on the verge of brilliance, but got too caught up in its own emotions to actually stop right there and just kept on going. Long story short, its length holds it back from achieving the greatness that actually lies within. But for more on all of that, check out this in-depth review here or here.
Mercury – Act 1 by Imagine Dragons
Ever heard the phrase “a little bit country, a little bit rock-n-roll?” This is that album…plus a little bit pop-rock, a little bit synth, a little bit electropop, a little bit prog-rock, a little bit everything really. Listening to this album a couple times through might be really necessary to maybe feel what the group felt, because on first go, it’s a hop from genre to genre to genre that’ll just give you whiplash. But then you confront the darker, heavier themes buried under it all and can really appreciate it.
COUNTRY YUTES by Usain Bolt and NJ
I’m sorry, what world is this? Olympic athletes with albums? If you’ve kept up over the past year, you might’ve seen the world’s fastest man drop a single or so every now and then, manifesting in Country Yutes, a dancehall and reggae-influenced record that’s so carefree it might as well be a parody. But in all fairness, the way to listen to this album is probably the way the artists intended for you to, by not taking it too seriously and just having fun with it. And you might end up grooving more than you thought you would.
“I Still Have Faith in You”/”Don’t Shut Me Down” by ABBA
THEY’RE BACK. PEOPLE. WHAT. ABBA is back, OFFICIALLY! With new music and a new album on the way, ABBA is the kind of blast to the past that music lovers dream of, and their two new offerings sound like absolutely nothing has changed. They’re still the same vibrant larger-than-life disco darlings they always were, and it’s a beautiful feeling, honestly, to hear a song from 2021 sound EXACTLY like one from 1971 without being an “homage,” and be just as good.
“Good Ones” by Charli XCX
Charli’s last album was the kind of at-home experimental pop that you either love or hate. “Good Ones” is a lot more inoffensive in that manner, something you could either love or at least be okay with. It leans a lot more towards the traditional club-banger format that Charli usually veers away from diving too much into. Even if it’s really just masking a story of self-sabotage, it is quite hypnotic and bouncy.
“Million To One” by Camila Cabello
This is the kind of upbeat, inspo-pop that would very obviously be right for a soundtrack for a movie like, oh, I don’t know, maybe Cinderella? Oh wait…All the same, it’s nice to see Cinderella seemingly sounding more self-assured rather than our Disney-fied version who just met whatever came her way with a smile (even though she most definitely should’ve have!). She sounds like she actually knows what she wants, and it’s that lack of simple contentment that really is what makes this song work.
“Fire In The Sky” by Anderson .Paak
“Fire In The Sky” is a groovy and rhythmic little drive-by song that puts you at ease. Even more so when you really pay attention to .Paak’s voice and inflections, he really just sounds like he’s telling you an intimate little story of love. Now what I will say is that I did NOT expect this to be part of the Shang-Chi soundtrack, because this is not what I expected a superhero movie soundtrack to feel like. But if Deadpool’s any proof, who knows? (also, someone buy me a ticket please)
“Linda” by Tokischa and Rosalía
So this track falls under a genre of music called “dembow,” which is a style of dancehall and reggaeton that originated in Jamaica and is popular in the Dominican Republic. You can see where the reggaeton influences lie here, but it’s also much more fast-paced and energetic, something both ladies here lean into quite well. It’s a song that really feels like it’s “on” all the time, and really just is quite irresistible.
“The 90s” by FINNEAS
For the first bit of the song, I honestly thought I was listening to a Coldplay song, till the vocal effects came in and I realized, “nope, this is FINNEAS, only he’d do that.” The older O’Connell continues to prove himself a master of balancing minimalist production with bombastic sounds, knowing when to pull back and when to unleash. Although, can’t really say much for his affinity for the 90s since he’s literally two weeks younger than I am (and I’m only 24!).
“Love (Sweet Love)” by Little Mix
Is it venturing too far to say that this song might be one of the group’s best yet? Coming on the heels of two of the members giving birth in the last three weeks, the song is a perfect blend of empowerment and anthemic, while possessing a love for old-school girl group dynamics like Destiny’s Child. It really could’ve been an overproduced and overwhelming track, but the girls each go in full throttle with the vocals to match and balance it out so damn well.
“If It’s Love” by Sting
“If It’s Love” is really such a breezy and joyous track that really makes you want to fall in love. It soundtracks that feeling of euphoric bliss (or sometimes idiocy) so well. Couldn’t you just hear this fit in so well on a 00s movie compilation? Or a 90s love tribute album? Sting brings a lot of classic pop and rhythmic elements to the track that’s clean, simple, just plain fun and happy.