In a week when nearly everything you read makes you wince, duck or want to run, here’s a bunch of songs that both reflect and offer refuge from the trainwreck of 2020.
Two songs that reflect this reality have already been covered in Variety’s virtual pages this week: Maren Morris’ brave and conscience-tugging “Better Than We Found It,” a clear call from a new mom to take this moment to reflect on the decisions we’re making today and what they’ll mean for future generations – in other words, #VOTE with your conscience.
On a similar note, Jojo’s “The Change” is the official theme song of the Biden-Harris campaign and was written by written by Diane Warren (see Variety’s exclusive interview with the two of them about the song here).
Megan Thee Stallion (featuring Young Thug) “Don’t Stop” On a completely different note, we have a hard-bouncing new single from Megan Thee Stallion that is first official solo track since the release of her “Suga” EP in the spring (it doesn’t seem that way, but remember the Beyonce collab “Savage” was a remix, “WAP” is officially a Cardi B song featuring Megan, and, well, Megan’s been one of the dominant media figures of the year). It combines some fearlessly explicit lyrics with an eye-popping video that was directed by Colin Tilley and pays winking homage to Hype Williams classic fish-eyed clips from the ‘90s (and he’s been having a moment of his own, photographing Lizzo for the cover of the new Vogue and was even name-dropped in Travis Scott’s “Franchise” last week). She makes her debut on “Saturday Night Live” tomorrow night and smart money says she’ll be playing it there — BOUNCE!
Jonsi (featuring Robyn) “Salt Licorice” As “frontman” of the unique Icelandic group Sigur Ros, Jonsi’s unorthodox approach to both singing and lyrics — he often sings in an invented language — have made him one of the more distinctive vocalists to emerge in the past 20 years. With his forthcoming new album “Shiver,” he makes a turn into unexpected territory, teaming up with pop deconstructionist A.G. Cook (founder of PC Records and Charli XCX’s constant collaborator) and, here, alt-pop goddess Robyn. She brings an effervescence that is unusual for Jonsi’s world but makes for an unexpectedly complementary fit — a fusion of three strong personalities that brings out the best in all of them.
21 Savage x Metro Boomin “Runnin’” 21 Savage was relatively unknown back in 2016, when he and Metro Boomin teamed up for the first “Savage Mode” project. It’s a different story with today’s release of “Savage Mode II,” as the video for this song shows him bringing the Grammy Award he won earlier this year around his old neighborhood in Atlanta — and Metro Boomin’s skulking beat, powered by a Diana Ross sample, meshes as perfectly with Savage’s steady flow as it did four years ago. Not sure what’s up with dude’s red cap tho …
Jorja Smith (featuring Popcaan) “Come Over” Jorja Smith was one of the breakthrough artists of 2018, and while we impatiently await a sophomore album she’s served up a solid series of singles — the latest of which is a skittering track that shows off her powerful and emotion-laden vocals, which reflect the uncertainty of a new love — Jamaican singer Popcaan cements the beat’s Caribbean flavor with some distorto-toasting.