After a comparatively slow week leading into the long weekend — which means we only scanned around 100 songs last week instead of the usual 130! — the avalanche of songs is back with a bang. There are so many that we could have done a “Fri 10,” and we cheated by combining three killer covers that dropped this week into a single item.
So with a quick nod to the songs we’ve already covered this week — Janelle Monae’s excellent “Turntables” and Gorillaz’s “Strange Timez,” featuring lead vocals from The Cure’s Robert Smith — and nods to the runners up (“Niki’s “Plot Twist,” Tash Sultana’s “Beyond the Pine,” Daddy Yankee “Don Don,” Alycia Bella’s “Cue the Sun” and Claire Rosinkranz’s “Backyard Boy”), away we go …
Marshmello and Demi Lovato “Ok Not to Be Ok” While we’re not sure how this song is landing with young people who are not okay, we’ll certainly give props to Demi Lovato — who has been admirably up-front and honest about her own struggles with mental health and substance abuse — and Marshmello — who, well, just look at him — for creating a song for Global Suicide Prevention Day saying “It’s OK Not to Be OK.” It’s also part of a partnership with with Hope For The Day, a non-profit movement that aims to empower conversation on proactive suicide prevention and mental health education. The video, directed by Hannah Lux Davis, shows the pair speaking to younger versions of themselves (in awesome vintage ‘90s bedrooms), saying, “Don’t get lost in the moment or give up when you’re closest, all you need is somebody to say, it’s okay not to be okay.”
Mr Eazi & Major Lazer (featuring Nicki Minaj & K4mo) “Oh My Gawd” Warning: Listen to this song once and you will likely annoy the people closest to you by going around singing “Guess who’s coming to dinn-ah…” for days on end. Mr. Eazi is part of a wave of African artists (Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage and many others) who’ve been famous for years in their home countries but are currently making a run at the U.S. This collaboration matches the Nigerian star with Diplo’s group Major Lazer and guest verses from Nicki Minaj and K4mo and features a very Diplo-esque bounce in the rhythm, as you’ll see in the video.
David Guetta & Sia “Let’s Love” Speaking honestly, this song almost feels more like a mashup than a new composition. With a musical vibe very reminiscent of The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” (as well as the “Miami Vice”-type ‘80s songs that inspired it), the song puts Sia — who sounds like absolutely no one else — in a new and relatively novel setting. And despite the gloriously cheesy sound and title (which could be from some Dean Martin duet in the 1950s), there’s a welcome message of uplift in the song’s lyrics: “Take my hand, this too shall pass/ And we’ll get through it all together.”
Mxmtoon featuring Carly Rae Jepsen “Ok on Your Own” (A therapist might say otherwise, but we promise we did not intentionally pick three songs about being okay for this week’s column.) Mxmtoon, who also goes by Maia, is a 20-year-old Oakland-born/Brooklyn based singer-songwriter we’ve been watching for awhile, but who finds an unexpectedly perfect collaborator on this song in Carly Rae Jepsen, which opens with a gentle ukulele strum before shifting into an absolutely killer mid-tempo melody that’s a little reminiscent of Billie Eilish — but no matter what name she’s working under, Mxmtoon/Maia is fully her own artist.
James Blake “Godspeed” / Ingrid Andress “Don’t Start Now” / Miley Cyrus “Maneater” O With all the great original compositions being released every week, we try to stay away from covers, but these three are just too good to pass up. From the top: James Blake covers Frank Ocean’s gorgeous 2016 song “Godspeed,” the original version of which Blake produced, arranged and played on. Blake’s been playing the song live for years and he posted a version on Instagram several months ago, but it recently took off on TikTok and his label saw fit to release it officially — so if you don’t already know it, drop what you’re doing and find out what you’ve been missing….
Next up, rising country-ish singer Ingrid Andress reinvents Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” — a dance-pop song — as a huge ballad that highlights the nuances in the melody and shows what a beautifully written song it is…
Finally, during Miley Cyrus’ socially distanced performance on “Fallon” this week, she played her new single “Midnight Sky,” and also brought a creative spin to Hall & Oates’ semi-classic “Maneater,” starting slow and rocking it up in the middle (and yes, a therapist might say otherwise but we were not intending to highlight the ‘80s in the column)…
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