V’s New Music Round-Up
Here are some of the biggest and best releases of the week
Hello and welcome back! After a little holiday break (full of…well, whatever people do on Thanksgiving), we’re back to give you the biggest and best of the week, the highlights, the shining stars, the dynamite starts, the week’s new music releases with V’s New Music Round-Up. Whether they be singles or albums, this is the list for you!
Here are this week’s top picks:
KicK iii by Arca
If you’re looking to find some meaning throughout Arca’s KicK series of records, this one…should be the very last place you look for it. KicK iii takes all the techno-fuckery of the previous releases and goes balls to the wall with it, manic, unhinged, frantic, truly batshit crazy. And you can tell Arca absolutely loves it, every time her voice comes on the record, there’s an underlying excitement to it. It’s infectious enough to make you feel just as excited, so much that it might just be rubbing off on you. KicK iii is a trip, but some trips are good for you.
“It’ll Be Okay” by Shawn Mendes
There’s a lot of personal conflama surrounding Mendes’ new release, but let’s take the time to acknowledge that this is one of his best songs. Whether the song is really about his relationship with Camila Cabello or not, there’s real meaning behind each word, there’s actual feeling, it sounds more real than every other time Mendes has told a girl she’ll treat them better or he’d need stitches. It’s why musicians borrow from their own lives for their narratives, because it sells the song better than any empty lyric would.
“Just Look Up” by Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi
On its own, “Just Look Up” is an emotional ballad that places Grande’s powerhouse vocals and champion restraint front-and-center with Kid Cudi’s own verses adding a good bit of support. When paired with the context of the film, about a comet heading to Earth (plus a beautiful key change), the song gains an urgency and an emotive quality that wrenches at your heart as each word of the chorus suggests there isn’t much left to gain. As an end of the world ballad, it’s spectacular.
“Wandered To LA” by Juice WRLD with Justin Bieber
“Wandered to LA” is one of those songs that’s supposed to quite introspective and vulnerable for the artists involved. But even with its polished (slightly derivative) production, it just feels like a bit more of platitudes thrown around that don’t mean much to either artist involved. They’ve both released tracks that have managed to come across a lot more sincere and open, because they speak to the specificity of their experiences. Vagueness isn’t for the caliber of Juice WRLD or Bieber.
“I Hate U” by SZA
SZA makes the art of a breakup a groovy one on this ditty of a track, her first official release since “Good Days” last year (!!). She’s frank, she’s honest, she’s as direct as can be as she flies through every time she was made to feel shitty in the relationship. The beats and melodies are sparse and place the varying effects on her vocals front and center, which is a new direction for SZA that’s exciting for a potential second album POV (which…when?).
“Merry Christmas” by Ed Sheeran and Elton John
“Merry Christmas” is…well…it’s about as much of a PBS special as you can cram into a song, let’s say that. For two musicians with some pretty incredible lyrical genius, this is really just the kind of song that you tout around on one of those cheesy British commercials for a charity drive. And there’s nothing really wrong with that, and I’m sure if they attach the proceeds of the track to a worthy cause, it’ll be a beneficial Christmas to many who deserve it. But this isn’t a song you really NEED to listen to this Christmas. It’s perfectly fine is what it is, guys.
“2011” by 5 Seconds of Summer
2011 to me, musically, is when pop hit its perfect peak with two landmark albums (21 and Teenage Dream), and for 5SOS, it’s very much the genesis of their career. They hit a lot of the sounds from that era (clear musical structure, for example) while also borrowing from their newer rock-leaning influences and create a contemplative mood of a track that places their history in the forefront. It’s a strong song on its own, but for fans of the band, it’s sure to be a bit of a tear-jerker too.
“Crisis/Secret/Set Me Free” by Joshua Bassett
Olivia Rodrigo debacle. “Crisis” takes jabs at a lover who posits their entire relationship as a one-sided affair, while “Secret” places a lot of the blame squarely on the other partner, complicating matters further. It comes to an uneasy calm on “Set Me Free,” as Bassett expresses regret and remorse. Who even knows what any of this is all about, to be completely honest, but it could just be an indicator of another SOUR-like lyrical and personal record coming very soon..
“Coconuts” by Kim Petras
Leave it to Kim Petras to deliver the ultimate summer bop right as we enter ho ho ho season. It’s this inane horny anthem that’s basically just a tribute to Petras’ “coconuts,” and is so silly and hilarious and goddamn fun. You can’t really hate it, or it’s Max Martin-esque production, it’s so self aware about what it’s trying to be, and it’s the kind of levity that we need when everything out there is trying to make us feel either thankful or fearful.