Variety Music’s Fri 5 — our collection of the best, most noteworthy or simply most remarkable new songs from the past week — took last week off, out of respect for Blackout Tuesday (and the comparatively low number of songs that came out that week), but we’re back with a pack of great new songs this week. (Check out previous weeks here.)
In this column, the “5” doesn’t include songs we’ve already covered, which this week includes important socially conscious releases from H.E.R. ;
from Leon Bridges and Terrace Martin;
Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” …
… or anything from the great playlist of recent protest songs we compiled here.
So without further ado, here are five hot songs we haven’t covered yet:
6ix9ine featuring Nicki Minaj “Trollz” No matter what you might think of 6ix9ine’s relentless (and apparently self-aware) trolling, it’s hard to deny the power of his two post-prison releases, the hard-hitting “Gooba” and the comparatively loose groove of the latest, “Trollz,” which would be one of the week’s hottest songs based on the instrumental track alone. In a similar fashion, no matter what you might think of guest rapper Nicki Minaj’s wardrobe in the song’s explosively colorful video, she brings heat and balances well with 6ix’s hard-hitting rap and smoother, slightly sung vocal.
Jorja Smith “Rose Rouge” This 23-year-old soulful British siren dropped one of Variety’s top albums of 2018 with her debut “Lost & Found,” and here she weighs in with the lead track from “Blue Note Re:Imagined,” a collection of reinterpretations of songs from the legendary jazz label’s catalog that drops in September. This song is an unusual choice from an 80-year-old catalog that includes McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Donald Byrd, and so many others — it’s from the 2000 album “Tourist” by French musician St. Germaine (aka Ludovic Navarre), and while it’s almost more of a groove than a conventional song, Smith’s take is a sumptuous fusion of soul and jazz.
Chloe x Halle “Tipsy” This Atlanta-spawned, Beyonce-cosigned sister act has been bubbling under for several years, but the young duo’s new album, “Ungodly Hour,” which dropped today, finds them delivering on their potential far more than previous releases — particularly on this track, which finds them mixing singing and rapping over an elastic beat that, at just 2:33, seems designed to leave the listener wanting more.
John Prine “I Remember Everything” It’s some consolation that in the year before he died — on April 7, of complications from coronavirus — one of America’s very greatest songwriters of the past 50 years was properly recognized as such, being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and being paid tribute in a star-studded tribute concert last June. A year ago, when Variety talked with Prine, he said, “I’m writing, for sure… I’ll probably bake a new record in the next couple of years.” That next album fans hoped for was not to be, but if nothing else, fans have just gotten a hell of a career summation in what his team is describing as the last new song he ever recorded, “I Remember Everything.” Recorded on acoustic guitar in his living room, on camera, for a documentary, it has the master songsmith boldly proclaiming that he recalls not just every performance and every hotel room in-between but every last glimpse of nature: “Every single blade of grass holds a special place for me.” You can (and will) see it as Prine writing his own eulogy, but really, it’s just a fantastic love song in which a slightly hyperbolic photographic memory is offered as proof that his beloved other has made every sense memory indelible for all time. — Chris Willman
Johnniqua Charles with DJ Suede the Remix God and DJ iMarkkeyz “Lose Yo Job” It’s one of the many strange ironies of this time: During a week when the country erupted with demonstrations protesting police violence against the black community, a hilarious video of a black woman dancing while melodically mocking a security guard who was handcuffing her became one of the most viral videos in recent memory. It didn’t hurt that there was a harmless ending to the incident — the woman, Johnniqua Charles, was quickly released, and the guard did not, as the woman threatened, lose his job — but the clip spread remarkably quickly: The guard posted it on the day it was taped, Feb. 5, but it really took off after remix by DJ Suede (known for working with YoungBoy and Megan Thee Stallion) and and DJ iMarkkeyz (who remixed Cardi B “Coronavirus” meme) dropped a week ago. TMZ posted about it that night, and it spread so quickly that by the weekend, when old people like us asked our teenaged daughters if they’d seen it or even heard the remix, the response was a resounding “DUH!” Best of all, according to Buzzfeed, Charles was homeless at the time of the video but after the clip went viral, her sister set up a GoFundMe that has raised $30,000. “Nobody understands how much this video going viral is helping me,” she said, “because it’s giving me the breakthrough I so badly needed for so long.” There are few better ways to spend 90 seconds …