As the hangover from last night’s final presidential debate fails to wear off, we’ve gotta say that soothing female voices are just the thing right now — and that’s reflected in each of the week’s picks for top songs (well, except for the Illenium and Tom DeLonge track).
We’ve already covered Ariana Grande’s latest and posted reviews this week’s albums from Bruce Springsteen, Gorillaz and a posthumous release from the great Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings — and ordinarily we probably would have highlighted the new H.E.R. song, which is great and she’ll probably perform it on “Saturday Night Live” tomorrow, but we’ve covered her a lot so we’ll just cheat and sneak it in here.
Saweetie (featuring Jhene Aiko) “Back to the Streets” TikTok’s “Tap In” sa-weetheart is rolling deep on her latest single, with a guest spot from the ubiquitous Jhene Aiko and coproduction from Timbaland (sounds like him on that plinky piano hook). Despite the song’s smooth groove, if anything it’s an anti-love song: “I put my new man on a leash / traded in my old n—a, he was just a lease / Ride around town till I leave / I gave that boy a round and sent him back to the streets.” Damn!
Karol G “Bichota” We’re not necessarily a family publication but we do try not to promote things with hurtful or offensive lyrical content — something that the bounty of great recent non-English-language songs occasionally makes difficult. This latest from Colombia superstar Karol G is apparently about a “bichota” — a drug dealer and/or a snitch (we’re not too worried about offending either), but its loping rhythm and sweet melody and vocal make it sound more like a love song.
Arlo Parks “Green Eyes” This young Londoner singer caught the BBC and indie world’s attention with her recent singles “Hurt” and “Black Dog” — and a pair of high-profile duets with Phoebe Bridgers and Glass Animals — but this one is something else altogether. With an easy mid-tempo groove, an assist from indie icon Clairo and a vocal that’s oddly chill and insistent at the same time, it suggests Parks’ debut album, “Collapsed in Sunbeams,” due in January, is going to make a major stir — “Saturday Night Live” might want to pencil her in for the new year now.
Ela Minus “Dominique” Any song released in lockdown that includes the lyrics “Today I woke up at 7 p.m.” and “I should probably eat something that’s not liquid” has a pretty strong chance of making the Fri 5 on that virtue alone, but the fact that it comes from one of our favorite electronic-music artists — Colombian artist-producer Ela Minus, whose new album “Acts of Rebellion” dropped today — clinches it (and not for nothing, she sounds completely unlike Karol G, the other great Colombian artist on this week’s list). Although it’s a song about withdrawal with a languid vocal, the pulsating synths and rhythms give it a counterintuitive effervescence.
Illenium (featuring Tom DeLonge and Angels & Airwaves) “Paper Thin” Just in case you were getting a little too comfortable with the female energy this week, here’s a blast of testosterone — and we’ll admit our first reaction was, “I didn’t know Illenium was a singer… wow, he sounds like Tom DeLonge… wait…” And sure enough, that’s the former Blink-182 frontman delivering a powerful and distinctive vocal here, with his definitively pop-punk vocals meshing unexpectedly well with Illenium’s towering electronic textures. (There’s also something in the melody that remind us of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”?) It suggests a promising future as a featured vocalist whenever he gets tired of chasing UFOs.