Thursday, April 30, 2015

Singles Summary: April 2015


Florence + The Machine // "Ship to Wreck"
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, Island
★★★★☆

Florence Welch and her Machine won't end their continuous stream of new music premieres from the upcoming album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. At this rate, it will be the must-have record of the summer. A snippet of the album's title track, the driving "What Kind of Man," and the ethereal "St. Jude" had all been passed onto fans before this month's release of "Ship to Wreck." This track revisits the lighter sounds of the band's debut, Lungs, and integrates a summery feel that is perfect for a carefree drive by the lake.



MS MR // "Painted"
TBA, Columbia
★★★★☆

"What did you think would happen? What did you think would happen? What did you think would happen? What did you think would happen? What did you think would happen?" That repetition will run through my mind for months to come after I heard the first taste of MS MR's untitled sophomore album. The darker tones of Secondhand Rapture have been scrapped in favor of an upbeat approach, but the duo doesn't lose their identity in the transformation.


Carly Rae Jepsen // "All That"
E•MO•TION, Interscope
★★★★☆

While spending the month promoting her comeback single, Carly Rae Jepsen dropped by Saturday Night Live to perform "I Really Like You" and to premiere "All That." This new track is an intimate synthpop ballad that plays off of subtle '80s influences and impresses with its intimate vocal delivery and subdued production.



Rihanna // "American Oxygen"
R8, Roc Nation
★★★★★

Rihanna just delivered one of the best singles of her career. Originally a Tidal exclusive, "American Oxygen" features the production handiwork of Alex da Kid and chronicles the struggle of the American Dream. She sings about herself ("I say, 'You see, this is the American Dream.' Young girl, hustling on the other side of the ocean. She can be anything at all. America, America I should come see. Just close your eyes and breathe") and the American obsession with wealth ("We sweat for a nickel and a dime, turn it into an empire"), before ending the song in a hopeful chant ("This is the new America. We are the new America.") The song's video adds depth, featuring the most iconic scenes of American history and placing a strong focus on racial inequality.



Ryn Weaver // "The Fool"
The Fool, Interscope
★★★★☆

In the midst of the second wave of popularity for "OctaHate," up-and-coming pop artist Ryn Weaver dropped the second single from her upcoming debut album, The Fool (out June 16). The title track to the album is a summery indie-pop treat that ends in an unexpected synth breakdown. Weaver's vocal delivery gets a bit goofy at times (especially in the bridge as she dips to her lowest notes), but its an enjoyable track nonetheless. With five solid tracks under her belt now, she has proven to be the must-watch rising star of the year.



Avril Lavigne // "Fly"
Original song for the Special Olympics, Epic
★★★☆☆

After a long battle with Lyme Disease, Avril Lavigne has stepped back into the spotlight with an original song written for her own Avril Lavigne Foundation and this summer's Special Olympics. The self-empowerment anthem, titled "Fly," is composed on a lighter pop foundation with a prominent string line. The lyrics are a bit cheesy and cliché, but that is almost expected for a self-empowerment anthem. When in need of a pick-me-up track, this should be a go-to pick.



Neon Hitch // "Eleutheromaniac"
Eleutheromaniac, #WeRNeon ("fan-label")
★★★☆☆

Neon Hitch sat at a stalemate with Warner Bros. Records for four years before splitting away from the label last year. Since then, she has been slowly spilling tracks from her upcoming fan-funded album, Eleutheromaniac. This month, fans received the title track to the album, which glows with Eastern and Bollywood influences. Although fans have donated over $40,000 to the artist, she has yet to deliver the full album. However, at least she's delivering a few decent songs in the mean time.


Zedd feat. Bahari // "Addicted to a Memory"
True Colors, Interscope
★★★★☆

After teaming up with Selena Gomez on the radio-ready "I Want You To Know," Zedd has dropped the club-oriented "Addicted to a Memory" with up-and-coming band Bahari. While "I Want You to Know" targeted mainstream appeal and found Zedd's synths working around Gomez's reverberated vocals, Bahari's vocals float over a madhouse of Zedd's finest production. His orchestration of synths and beats in the final minute could make this one of his best songs to date.



Giorgio Moroder feat. Sia // "Déjà vu"
Déjà vu, RCA
★★☆☆☆

At 74 years old, Giorgio Moroder could be considered the grandfather of dance music. He has reemerged with plans for a new album packed with features from Britney Spears, Foxes, Kelis, and more. The title track has dropped, featuring vocals from Sia. Her voice is one of the most powerful in the industry, but that might be why it doesn't mesh well with the production of this song. While strong and beautiful, her vocals overpower the tinny synthwork laid down by Moroder; even her collaborations with EDM producer David Guetta evoked darker undertones. Moreover, a peppy disco track seems strange for Sia, especially after coming off of the tear-stained 1000 Forms of Fear.



Adam Lambert // "Ghost Town"
The Original High, Warner Bros.
★★☆☆☆

After years of playing the frontman on a worldwide tour with Queen, Adam Lambert is back to catering to his solo career. The EDM-fused "Ghost Town" acts as the lead single to his upcoming third studio album, The Original High. While the song is generally enjoyable and it's great to hear Lambert's voice in the pop world again, the transfers between the lonely guitars in the verses and the chilled synths in the choruses are awkward.


Jessie J // "Flashlight"
Pitch Perfect 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Universal Music
★★★☆☆

Coming off the lackluster performance of Sweet Talker, Jessie J has latched herself onto the newest addition to the Pitch Perfect franchise. "Flashlight," a power ballad co-penned by Sia, acts as the lead single to the soundtrack of Pitch Perfect 2. Like the movie series it stems from, the song is sufficient but unmemorable. Jessie's vocal delivery is very reserved, but she lets loose as she wails over the final chorus. The melody line is surprisingly not as taxing as most ballads stemming from Sia, especially considering that it was written for a powerhouse like Jessie J.


Bebe Rexha // "I'm Gonna Show You Crazy"
I Don't Wanna Grow Up, Warner Bros.
★★★★☆

Walking the same lines as Sia Furler and Bonnie McKee, Bebe Rexha has worked behind-the-scenes for other artists and has written pieces heard by millions of Americans. This year, she is making her own voice heard. "I'm Gonna Show You Crazy" was dropped last December, with the official video dropping this month in preparation of an upcoming extended play. The chorus hits hard on this one, as she exclaims, "I'm gonna show you / Loco, maniac, sick bitch, psychopath / Yeah, I'm gonna show you / Mental, out my brain, bat shit, go insane," over a driving synth backdrop.

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