Much as we love having music as an escape, like last week’s stellar socially relevant song from Maren Morris, we’re starting this Fri 5 with a song that couldn’t be more important: Jhene Aiko’s “Vote,” from last and this weekend’s voting-themed episode of “Black-ish.” Like the show, the song’s lyrics deal with real-life issues affecting people’s ability to find time to vote in a country where — we’ll say it — THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT AND PARTY are making it as difficult as possible for the average person, and particularly minorities.
“I just wanna focus on my vote/ I ain’t got no time, I gotta work,” she sings. “Gotta ask my bosses for a day off/ But if I do, I know might get laid off … ‘Cause now I’m old enough/ But I ain’t know so many things were gonna hold me up… I just wanna get to the ballot/ I just wanna feel like I’m valid/ Put in my vote, I can have it/ But that shouldn’t feel like magic.”
Thank you, Jhene. And America: VOTE.
Q “Take Me Where Your Heart Is” On a significantly lighter note, here’s our favorite song of the week, which comes from a 21-year-old new-ish artist with the search-engine-confounding name Q (and apparently that’s Q Marsden’s real name). He dropped a short, alt-R&B-ish album last year, but this is something else entirely: A gorgeous, soulful, slow-burning fourth-generation successor to Childish Gambino’s 2016 smash “Redbone” (which itself was a third-generation successor to Prince’s second-generation successors to countless early ‘70s soul ballads). On top of that, it’s got an awesome video, with a love story set in a bowling alley — and the priceless image of Q singing his heartfelt lyrics in front of a wall of bowling shoes.
Anderson Paak “Jewelz” Autotune-phobes should probably give this one a pass: The fact that rapper-singer-drummer Paak teased this song on Instagram with a clip of himself dancing with his young son probably made more than one person think that it’s actually his son singing “Jewelz,” a funked-up banger co-produced by Timbaland that conjured visions of an adolescent Michael Jackson. But no — it’s Anderson singing, autotuned to the hilt but delivering arguably his most irresistible song to date. (And if it seems a bit lighthearted for troubled times, remember that Paak’s previous release was the racial-injustice-themed “Lockdown.”
Yungblud “Cotton Candy” This Brit may be known as Lewis Capaldi’s riotous former roommate, Halsey’s maybe ex- boyfriend and protest-march companion to her and Machine Gun Kelly, but none of that has anything to do with this killer pop song, which features a bassline that conjures at least two different Tame Impala tracks. It’s one of three major releases this week co-written by hitmonster Justin Tranter, who is joined here by frequent collaborator Julia Michaels and serves up one of the best choruses we’ve heard all year.
May-A “Apricots” Another new-ish artist, this 19-year-old Australian singer lays on the Lorde-isms a little heavily on the verses, but shows her talent on the glorious chorus which, as she says, is about “coming to terms with my sexuality and realizing I had feelings for a girl for the first time. I originally started writing it about a relationship, but as it evolved it became more about my current self talking to my past self.”
And for good measure, here’s a tip of the hat to Bebe Rexha and Doja Cat’s “Baby I’m Jealous” (which we wrote about earlier today and is the second Justin Tranter song to drop this week, with Bea Miller’s “Wisdom Teeth” being third), to Kiiara and Blackbear’s classic kiss-off song “So Sick,” and Tchami and Gunna’s “Praise” and its otherworldly groove.