Welcome to another week of Singles Roundup! This week was not as exciting as last week with singles releases, but I did learn something that is probably already common sense to most of you: it’s not very much fun to come up with things to say about songs you don’t like. I originally wanted to approach Singles Roundup! with an open mind, bringing a wide range of music each week. In reality, I can’t be bothered to come up with much to say about most singles that I don’t care for. In the case of albums that I don’t like, the sheer amount of material to discuss on an album allows me to still write an interesting review. However, with singles, I think this column will slowly become less and less interesting if a majority of my writing is just finding new ways to essentially say “I just didn’t connect with this song.”
So what does that mean for you? Probably nothing! I’ll still be bringing a column once a week (most of the time) with anywhere from 8-12 singles that I thought would be interesting to talk about. I’ll have positive opinions and negative opinions. This list just won’t be as comprehensive as I originally intended because I want to really focus on songs that made me feel something – even if it was a negative reaction.
Without further ado…
Charli XCX – “Boys”
Charli continues to push her strange niche of pop music forward with another fantastic single accompanied by possibly my favorite music video of the year. The message of this single and video is wonderful; it’s an empowering message for all different types of men that they are attractive and respected without being even remotely toxic. The song itself is super catchy as well. I love the Nintendo sample, Charli’s languid voice is perfect for the theme of the song, and the whole thing plays like one big hook. I would probably have easily given this a 9/10 if the video wasn’t obviously such a huge improvement to the song.
Skrillex ft. Poo Bear – “Would You Ever”
Regardless of your feelings of dubstep and “brostep” in general, it’s really astonishing to think that Skrillex was at one point innovating in the electronic genre. “Would You Ever” sucks. It’s a basic melody and tempo designed to feel summery, follows every electronic and pop trope that’s popular right now, and essentially goes no where. This song has gotten worse with every listen, and it actually bothers me to hear it.
Kesha – “Learn To Let Go”
I wish I was vibing harder with these new Kesha singles because I am really happy for her to be back making music, and these singles sound like she is now making music more in tune with what she wants. But frankly, I just don’t think the music is as good. This is one is probably my least favorite of the three she has released so far, because it doesn’t really showcase anything. Kesha’s voice sounded great on “Praying” and I liked the horns in “Woman”, but “Learn To Let Go” sounds really generic. Kesha feels like she is trying to come off as mature while also pushing as hard as she can to get a radio hit.
Macklemore ft. Lil Yachty – “Marmalade”
Back to memory lane again: Remember when “Wings” came out and people were looking at Macklemore like he was about to turn the entire hip-hop world on its head? I actually ended up loving “The Heist” despite all its cheesiness, but I feel like Macklemore has turned more into a novelty act since then. “Marmalade” is a decent track. The beat is simplistic, but I like the piano dancing in the background and the bass is heavy enough to make me want to dance – which is enough for me for a song like this. I prefer Macklemore when he is being so overly sincere that it sounds cheesy, but I’ve enjoyed listening to this track this past week. The cherry on top is Lil Yachty. I know it’s going to wear through soon, but – so help me God – I guess I am still totally down to listen to this goofball mumble ridiculous auto-toned lyrics over and over again.
The Killers – “Run For Cover”
I admittedly have never been a huge fan of The Killers outside of their biggest hits, but to me, this is the closest to Hot Fuss they’ve been in over a decade. This track is loud and it progresses to an exciting climax, and I actually think moving in a more Heartland Rock direction might be the perfect answer for The Killers (it certainly wasn’t synthpop). I actually stumbled upon this single accidentally, and I probably would not have even thought to review it if I hadn’t heard it all the way through first. It’s definitely got me interested (if even mildly) in the new album.
Iron & Wine – “Thomas County Law”
Getting away from the subtle Americana and alt-country touches from their earlier work was Iron & Wine’s biggest mistake. “Thomas County Law” brings it back in a very obvious way. From the twangier guitar, the bass, and the lyrical content, “Thomas County Law” is getting really close to just being soft alternative country. I think it’s a great move for Iron & Wine to return to their roots but to tweak it and make it sound fresh. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing what else is coming.
Action Bronson – “The Chairman’s Intent”
Action Bronson has over and over again made a habit of alternating being completely forgettable and then putting out a feature or a single that makes you think he has potential. Unfortunately, this new track is neither – it’s particularly bad. First off, Bronson sounds just terrible on this track. His voice has never bothered me in the past, but there is something about his flow on this new single that just completely turned me away. Second, this east coast, old-school style instrumental is generic, uninteresting, and out of style. I don’t mean to criticize an artist for not doing what is popular, but everything in hip-hop right now is looking toward the future rather than the past. If Bronson got on this beat and destroyed it I’d let it go, but it’s hard to hear a beat this based in the past with just how interesting the world of hip-hop production is right now. I’ve now got essentially 0 interest in Action Bronson’s upcoming album.
K CAMP – “Good Problem”
I thought K CAMP was a bit underrated at the time “Lil Bit” blew up a few years ago because of his natural ability to come up with catchy and diverse flows as well as solid, catchy hooks. His debut album wasn’t a lyrical stunner, but it was full of hook after hook and there is certainly a space for ridiculously catchy pop rap in my collection. I like “Good Problem”. It has exactly what I liked about his debut and other singles: a solid hook and diverse and catchy flow. Just like on the debut, K CAMP isn’t really a rapper based in storytelling or lyrical diversity, but “Good Problem” is a great new single that plays to his strengths.
El Ten Eleven ft. Emile Mosseri – “I’m Right Here”
Forgive me for repeating myself, but El Ten Eleven is another artist that I’ve felt has been historically underappreciated within their respective genre. El Ten Eleven has made creative, uplifting, and technically impressive post-rock for well over a decade with little critical attention. I love the idea of having a featured artist provide vocals over their brilliant instrumentals, and Emile Mosseri (whom I had never heard of before this track!) does a great job putting a gorgeous vocal track on this song. I’m curious as to whether or not this is a one-time or rare thing for El Ten Eleven or whether they might consider bringing on a bunch of featured artists for their next album, almost in the same way a producer like Calvin Harris or Mura Masa might. Either way, I’m stoked!
The World is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – “Dillon and Her Son”
I’m disappointed by this one. The World… have always innovated and changed their sound dramatically between albums, but this new single is just too generically indie rock sounding to me. Apart from the guitar, there is almost no hint of emo influence at all, none of their post-rock influence shows up, and while the drums and guitar do have a bit of a math-rock sound to them, it’s not done in a convincing or interesting way. I have loved what these guys have done in the past so I am not totally off the bandwagon for the new album yet, but I don’t like this direction.
BROCKHAMPTON – “Gummy”
This guys haven’t missed. Their album they dropped at the start of the summer was phenomenal, and both singles for their second album (which is somehow also dropping this summer!) are also both fantastic. I really can’t praise “Gummy” enough. The beat is awesome and progresses throughout the song. Every member of BROCKHAMPTON that gets a verse KILLS IT (especially Ameer Vann – HOLY SHIT). It’s got an awesome hook. These guys seem like they are continuing to improve exponentially while maintaining their unique personality and sound that got them attention in the first place. This track is absolutely a can’t-miss highlight for the week. After they announced a second album dropping in the same season as their debut, I was nervous that it would be rushed. After hearing “Lamb” and “Gummy”, I’m right back on the hype-train again.
Thanks for reading!