V's New Music Round-Up
Here are some of the biggest and best releases of the week
Here are some of the biggest and best releases of the week
Text: Ahad Sanwari
Hello and welcome! Are you geared up for the Super Bowl? Or are you just planning to tune in with the Halftime Show? OR are you just not interested because “too much hype?” Either way, we’ve got you for your perfect weekend playlist, 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 (oh, also, Valentine’s Day, yep, that).
Here are this week’s top picks:
Good Morning Gorgeous by Mary J. Blige
Ahead of her Halftime Show performance this Sunday, Mary J. Blige returns with her first studio album since 2017, an offering that deals in confidence, empowerment, and vulnerability. Opening up in a recent interview about repeating the album’s title to herself each morning to boost her confidence, the record sees the singer stick to her familiar, polished R&B with a bit more emotional heft added in, being more open about herself than ever before. It’s deeply personal, to the extent that it does what the phrase “good morning gorgeous” is intended to do: build herself up, tell herself she’s okay and she’s worth it all. And you know what, we believe it. And here’s hoping she can too.
Slut Pop by Kim Petras
Now here we enter a whole other realm altogether, a love for the lust that Valentine’s Day offers. And that’s my G-rated way of saying it, this album is basically a running list of Petras’ sexual fantasies in her attempt to reclaim the narrative surrounding it. To an extent, it works? That is, if you want to see it in that way, it’s probably just best seen as a fun romp (in more ways than one) that’s just meant to get down and dirty to, infused with a heavy dose of 90s techno-pop. Also, “Throat Goat” is an out-of-body experience that I’m unsure will ever be replicated.
“Bussin” by Nicki Minaj ft. Lil Baby
In anticipation of her upcoming album, Nicki Minaj announced that every Friday would be “Pink Friday,” with a new release each week. Based on these past two singles, though, they sound like they’re anything but pink, more like a darker hue of magenta? Blood red? Minaj is coming in hard and more serious, she’s not ready to take shit, and she keeps it a lot more subdued. With two such offerings in a row, it’s safe to say that the upcoming album promises to go in a direction we’ve rarely seen her venture into, and that could possibly be worth the wait? Fingers crossed.
“Closer” by Saweetie ft. H.E.R.
From the dark atmosphere of Minaj to the upbeat and poppy “Closer,” it’s kind of an expected surprise, if that makes sense. This definitely has a beat and a vibe that’s right up Saweetie’s alley, this kind of saccharine, funky track, but is definitely a departure from H.E.R.’s usual style. And I love it, she proves she’s so much more than serious and powerful themes, able to deliver on more buoyant and fun productions, glimmers of which we’d seen early in her career. It’s almost like something out of Slut Pop, a perfect song to listen to while messily bounding on a beach.
“Stay Alive” by Jung Kook (produced by SUGA of BTS)
This track, part of the soundtrack for the HYBE webtoon 7FATES: CHAKHO, is a sweeping, dramatic turn for the BTS members. Jung Kook’s voice best fits this brief, able to convey the most emotionally rending moments with one vocal run quite capably, singing of feelings of isolation and earnest companionship. It presents itself as an epic tale that really gets you soaring, just a very well made, very well produced, very well performed track (what if this were on the Uncharted soundtrack though? Now THAT would kill).
“The Joker and The Queen” by Ed Sheeran ft. Taylor Swift
Sheeran continues on the metaphor of love as a card game by inviting friend and previous collaborator Swift to add a whole new verse of her own, providing a female perspective. I’m always a fan of this technique, having opposing points of view on a story always helps denote the complexity of human emotions much better. And when your second perspective comes from one of this generation’s best songwriters, hackneyed metaphor aside, what can you even expect? It’s a piano and acoustic-driven melody that soothes you to presents a soft and careful POV that elevates it further.
“Worst Day” by Future
I’m going to be candid, as objective as I try to be, I was primed to dislike this track after the first eight bars. But then I listened to what he was saying more carefully, and especially how he said it, and I did a good 180 (well, 120, maybe). This Valentine’s Day diss is more vulnerable than we see Future being, and the hurt in his voice is quite palpable. Sure, the standard “guns and bitches” retort is present, and the production is almost identical to many, MANY mainstream rap tracks before, but I appreciate the human emotion present, and I value it above all else.
“Celebrity Skin” by Doja Cat
So I would’ve been much, much less convinced of Doja Cat’s prowess at pulling off a seminal Hole cover if I hadn’t seen and fallen for her metal EMAs performance of “Say So.” Sure, some things need to stay the way they are, but…does…does Doja Cat have an alternate career waiting for her in hard rock? What works for her is a dangerous sensuality and swag she brings to this track, which may not be a replica of Courtney Love’s original apathetic tone for the song, but fits her style and voice way more. Considering this is going to be in homes everywhere for Taco Bell’s upcoming Super Bowl commercial, better gear up for a riotous night.
“MAMIII” by Becky G and KAROL G
Okay, latin music and general pop music stans everywhere can rejoice at two big superstars of the genre coming together for your new favorite Galentine’s jam. The two trade verses about the end of a toxic relationship and finding comfort in others, and blend so seamlessly into each other that it’s often hard to tell one apart from the other. There’s this symbiotic synergy between the two that comes from their similarly sultry takes on fun, boppy vibes. It’s effortless and, honestly, I recommend it most for chopping vegetables to.
“Billions” by Caroline Polachek
Spanning octaves and timbres you don’t expect, the production on “Billions” honestly feels like a very lucid fever dream, like a mix between Ashnikko, Grimes, and Sarah McLachlan. It’s ethereal, biting, otherworldly, scientific, metallic, every adjective you could think of. Like…like an angelic gunmetal battle cry. Honestly, I don’t know if anything I’m saying is making sense, but you can’t really describe a song like this. Listening to it just makes you feel things you never thought you could about music, and after last year’s brilliant “Bunny is a Rider,” there’s really only a Polacheck supremacy to bow to.
“One More Night” by Saleka
The beauty of Saleka’s music is not just in her buttery smooth production or her evocative lyrics, but in her hypnotic delivery. She’s able to easily move her voice into high harmonies from low growls, soft falsettos, even little belts. She offers up a variety without sounding like she’s trying too hard to impress and it keeps you listening as she takes you through the narrative she weaves for the character on Apple TV+’s “Servant,” which this was written for. Come for the story, stay for the delivery.