V's New Music Yearly Round-Up
Tune into the best of the year's releases on V's year-end music round up!
Tune into the best of the year's releases on V's year-end music round up!
Text: Ahad Sanwari
Welcome to V’s New Music Round-Up…the year end edition! We’re looking back at some of the best of the best, the releases that stuck in our brains, the ones we couldn’t get rid of, no matter how hard we tried, no matter how many chainsaws we used, they persisted. And we’re all the better for it (except for this gashing hole in my head). Here are our picks (in no particular order):
Honorable mentions: “Girlfriend” by Rebecca Black and “New Shapes” by Charli XCX, Christine and the Queens, and Caroline Polachek
“I Hate Running” by Number One Popstar
In a time where we’ve all been pushing ourselves to look our best, mostly for other people, Number One Popstar is all about preaching for the “eh, do what you have to for that sick bod, we’re all going to die anyway” approach. There’s no real reason she hates running beyond the fact that it “takes all day,” and there’s no reason for this song to exist because of that. But I’m still glad it does, because it’s a synth-heavy light burst of pop freshness we don’t see in mainstream anymore. It’s irreverent and completely carefree, about nothing and also everything, a bit of a mind refresh that the doctor would happily recommend.
“All Too Well (10 minute cut)” by Taylor Swift
The longest number one song in history absolutely deserves that title for the simple fact that it could take Taylor Swift’s essentially magnum opus and make it even better. It’s filled with the kind of storytelling and imagery that she perfected on Folklore and Evermore with the country sound that fans spent years growing up listening to. It all hurts so bad and so good, you can’t help belting along to “And you called me up again just to break my like a promise, so casually cruel in the name of being honest.” Having “belt” and “Taylor Swift” in the same context is big enough, and this is certainly the perfect song to do it to.
“Her Body” by Nasty Cherry
There’s just a bleeding, oozing, dripping confidence that permeates this track through and through. With each biting word, the girls of Nasty Cherry are telling you that sure, you can go around and hook up with whoever you want to, but she’s never going to compare to what you had with them, and she’ll never be as good. It’s a short, sweet, and crisp song that manages to get its message across so fluidly, through not only the lyrics, but also the production, and especially the vocal cadences, which land it on this list. It’s the charisma and utter bad bitch energy who knows she’s in the right energy that the track has that makes it worth the listen.
“Kiss Me More” by Doja Cat ft. SZA
Doja Cat’s big break with “Say So” found its second wind in “Kiss Me More,” and in even better fashion, as she was able to more seamlessly blend her straddling between pop, R&B, and hip-hop, a genre threesome, if you will. Putting herself and SZA (who also had a great year) at the center of this musically sexual escapade allowed them to rely on their naturally huge charisma and just go all in on some of the year’s smoothest production. It’s one of those songs which you can’t really fault much about, and it’s just another exhibition of Doja’s ability to bounce between beats like breakfast, lunch, and gin, and juice.
parallel universe pt. 1 by Alaina Castillo
Castillo makes a splashy entrance in the full record world with her seven song parallel universe pt. 1, an amalgamation of spacey and otherworldly pop and R&B stylings. But where she finds her groove is in finding a unified sound to tie it all together, and then keeping in that line while letting loose on more experimental grooves, percussions, vocal productions, sound effects, song structures, tempos, a variety of pieces. It’s a joy to experience because it’s not some straightforward journey through, but it’s also not just a collection of twists and turns. Like any good road, it has its bends, but you can tell it’s on a singular journey to the promise land.
SOUR by Olivia Rodrigo
Probably the year’s best mainstream debut record, Olivia Rodrigo captivated a nation in the sort of conversation many artists can only dream of. A big part of the punk-rock revival of 2021 after last year’s disco rebirth, Rodrigo was able to channel the raw dramatics of teenage emotion into an album full of maturity and childishness, someone with clarity, but still her age. It made everything all the more real and something everyone could find solace in.
“Happier Than Ever (the song)” by Billie Eilish
Where Rodrigo’s power is rooted in relatability and universality, Billie Eilish’s is completely her own, found in a story that only she can tell. And that makes every word, every emotion, every growl, every coo all the more effective. The way it transitions from an acoustic folksy ballad to a full rager is honestly genius and is a sign of the experimentation that she was able to find solace in on her sophomore record, even on several other stand out tracks from the album like “Oxytocin” and “Male Fantasy.” And that made it all the more worth it.
“Cherry Flavored Stomach Ache” by HAIM
“Cherry Flavored Stomach Ache” is a song…but it’s also not a song? You’re spending the entire duration of the track sitting in what seems like a build-up for something waiting to happen and then it…doesn’t. But…you’re still enjoying it. And…it’s still pleasing, from the harmonica-heavy rhythm, the snarky attitude-driven lyrics, the barely-there vocals that don’t rise above a robotic register. So…it’s really a testament to how arresting HAIM can be even when they’re not trying to, and it’s one of those tracks you can put on and just vibe to in the background, all the time. So…yeah.
“Bunny is a Rider” by Caroline Polachek
The anti-pop anthem of the year, “Bunny is a Rider” doesn’t really mean…anything. I mean sure, it is of course about bunny, a fantasy, so slippery, so impossible to hold and control. But it’s such a loose concept that you’re allowed to just take from it whatever you want. Or nothing at all, in fact. Polachek gives you the freedom to just surrender to her tempo and beat switches, her fluctuating low and high registers, her moody growls and her airy mirth, her everything. It’s wildly all over the place in this very controlled way, where everything has a place and a purpose, and it’s magical.
333 by Tinashe
Tinashe touches upon this beautiful harmony of sounds and melodies that audiences are familiar with and takes them to new places, different directions, wacky areas that you’d hardly be able to fathom. The joy of 333 is in being unable to comprehend what comes next, the fact that it’s so reminiscent of everything you know but is also unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Like a wood nymph making her way through a city of stars, Tinashe finds her footing confidently on this record and creates this ethereal, magical, almost surreal effect that will just make you stop and say “wow!”
“Apricot Skies” by Nova Miller
Oddly enough, “Apricot Skies” made its way to airwaves when the summer was long gone and we were in the thick of fall (or what we New Yorkers sometimes call “pre-winter”). But it made the appeal of the track a little more magical and wistful, where you could just imagine riding along the Californian coastline in a convertible with that one person you can’t resist keeping your hands off of. There’s going to be a Starbucks frappucino probably spilling all over, there will be some obnoxiously large sunglasses involved, hair getting mussed in the wind, and an eventual chill that’ll make you wonder who thought a convertible was a good idea. But it’s all worth it for that magical little thought, when you could dream a dream of a time gone by.
“One Night” by Griff
At just 20 years old, Griff is able to make music that speaks to the experiences of many and can be universal in a way that makes her age seem a lot more ambiguous, unlike with Rodrigo. She speaks to the pain and suffering caused by heartbreak and the inability to let that go, to the point that it keeps haunting you through your existence. The “heartbreak as a ghost” metaphor has been done to death, but the young English singer gives it some catharsis and vitality by making it a lot more visceral and visual, and by providing an important bit of contrast. Her subject matter is dark but her production is upbeat and pop-driven. But you can sense where both bleed into each other, and it’s an impressive feat.