Singles 2/15

At the same time she has explained Ryan Adams’ malignancy, Phoebe Bridgers has been promoting excellent music she co-wrote with Conor Oberst under the Better Oblivion Center moniker. Give it up to Mariah Carey too, who recorded her best album since the Clinton years.

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Mariah Carey – With You (8)
Better Oblivion Community Center – Dylan Thomas (7)
Russ ft. Taze, LD, Digga D, Ms Banks & Lethal Bizzle – Gun Lean (Remix) (6)
Shizzi ft. Mayorkun & Teni – Aye Kan (5)
Dua Lipa – Swan Song (5)
Mabel – Don’t Call Me Up (
Hozier – Almost (Sweet Music) (4)
Josh Ritter – Old Black Magic (4)
J. Cole – Middle Child (4)
Kacey Musgraves – Rainbow (3)
Greta Van Fleet – You’re The One (3)
Sabrina Carpenter – Sue Me (2)
Julia Michaels ft. Selena Gomez – Anxiety (2)
Martha – Love Keeps Kicking (1)

Singles 2/8

Meaty and bouncy, with a worthwhile intellectual’s distillation of a crisis in clear English, “Harmony Hall” augurs well for Vampire Weekend’s first album in six years (here’s how long it’s been: Spotify didnt yet count toward album “consumption”). But it’s barely better than Luna and Mero’s efforts, and Cardi B’s credited co-writer came up with decent rapping on his own.  Continue reading

Singles 2/1

Fresh off almost topping ILM’s list of 2018’s best tracks with “Boo’d Up,”one of the rare female R&B singles to cross over without hip-hop accompaniment, Ella Mai faced more TSJ resistance with “Shot Clock.” But Park Hye Jin, Kehlani, and Charlotte Adigéry stepped into the breach, Marren Morris to a lesser extent.

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Ella Mai – Shot Clock (8)
Charlotte Adigéry – Paténipat (7)
Park Hye Jin – I Don’t Care (7)
Kehlani ft. Ty Dolla $ign – Nights Like This (6)
Maren Morris – Girl (6)
Tanya Tagaq – Snowblind (6)
Ariana Grande – 7 Rings (5)
Logic – Keanu Reeves (5)
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – Look Back At It (5)
Bad Bunny – Solo de Mi (4)
Calvin Harris & Rag’n’Bone Man – Giant (4)
Westlife – Hello My Love (3)

It’s Britney, readers

At The Singles Jukebox we publish mid-career reports a couple times a year. We decided Britney Spears deserved one. Boy, did we. I don’t remember previous retrospectives inspiring so many blurbs, and so many blurbs in which colleagues outdid themselves: Edward Oculicz’s “Born to Make You Happy,” Sabina Tang on “Perfume,” Isabel Cole on “Get Naked (I Got a Plan)” and “Do Something,” Joshua Copperman on “Do You Wanna Come Over,” so many.

In 2017 I ranked her best tracks.

Below are my blurbs:

“Heaven on Earth” [7.43]

Beginning with a rattling sequencer out of 1977 that signals Britney’s intention to feel love, in the flesh or cybernetically depending on her mood, “Heaven on Earth” ravishes praise on a guy whose taste, touch, tongue, his big toes too, I’m sure, evoke what it must be like to see the face of God. Had Robyn released “Heaven on Earth” in 2005, we’d have praised the expression of man-machine lust. With Britney Spears there’s always a sense in which we expect such lasciviousness. “Fall off the edge of my mind,” she coos in the last third before the beat returns for a last round of thwacketing. The pleasure of her text should have set Barthes studies alight.

“Seal it With a Kiss” [6.43]

Pushing the synthetic virtues of her endlessly recombinant pop to their extreme, Femme Fatale is Britney’s peak, a souped-up techno shock masterpiece whose love-you-downs contrasted sharply with Lady Gaga’s virtue signalling in Born This Way. Dr. Luke and Max Martin know their employer, understand her strengths. She’s not an erotic presence; she suggests an erotic presence like organic ketchup suggests tomatoes. Anchored to insistent ooh-ee-oohs and Spears’ electro-puckered sigh, “Seal It With a Kiss” insists on keeping its titular promise.

Singles 1/25

Readers should reach for the smelling salts — I awarded my first 9 of 2019 to Billie Eilish’s fascinating “When I Was Older,” among the sharpest of this prolific artist’s recent singles. Sharon Van Etten’s evocation of being a white-winged dove on the edge of seventeen came second (expect an album review this week). Hell even Sam Smith and Normani’s serviceable floor filler and Florida Georgia Line’s most tolerable tear-stained letter benefited.

All this, and I didn’t mention two of the worst songs I’ll likely endure this year. Weezer I’ve dealt with already, just not quite like this.

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Billie Eilish – When I Was Older (9)
Sharon Van Etten – Seventeen (7)
Christine and the Queens – The Walker (7)
Apink – %% (Eung Eung) (7)
Sam Smith & Normani – Dancing with a Stranger (7)
Florida Georgia Line – Talk You Out of It (6)
D’Angelo – Unshaken (6)
Future – Crushed Up (5)
Blueface – Bleed It (5)
Flora Cash – You’re Somebody Else (4)
Ozuna – Baila Baila Baila (3)
Gesaffelstein & The Weeknd – Lost in the Fire (1)
Lil Pump – Butterfly Doors (1)
Weezer – Can’t Knock the Hustle (0)

Singles 1/18

Now this is more like it: Minneapolis singer/rapper cuts one giant hook of a song with a lyrical tag from which she extracts every expressive and connotative possibility. “Juice” slams. Almost its rival: City Girls and Cardi B throwing down sassy rhymes like J.J. Fad.

Click on links for full reviews.

Lizzo – Juice (8)
City Girls ft. Cardi B – Twerk (7)
Jax Jones & Years & Years – Play (7)
Kaytranada ft. Ty Dolla Sign – Nothin Like U (7)
Fleur East – Favourite Thing (6)
Chung Ha – Gotta Go (6)
21 Savage ft. J. Cole – A Lot (4)
Exo – Love Shot (4)
Brantley Gilbert & Lindsay Ell – What Happens in a Small Town (4)
Madison Beer ft. Offset – Hurts Like Hell (2)
Bastille & Seeb – Grip (2)

Singles 1/11

Our first set of reviews of the new year, comprised of 2018 odds and ends published during the break and tracks chosen for BBC Music Sound Of 2019 that were not, I trust, auspicatory. Already I regret the high vote for “Really Bad Boy,” grade inflation based on my affection for their catalog, and the low vote for Post Malone’s best radio hit.

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King Princess – Pussy is God (8)
Flohio ft. Cadenza & Clams Casino – Pounce (7)
Grimes ft. HANA – We Appreciate Power (7)
Anderson .Paak ft. Kendrick Lamar – Tints (6)
Meek Mill ft. Drake – Going Bad (6)
Red Velvet – RBB (Really Bad Boy) (6)
Rosalía – Bagdad (5)
Octavian – Move Faster (4)
Thomas Rhett – Sixteen (3)
Dermot Kennedy – Power Over Me (3)
Grace Carter – Why Her Not Me (3)
Post Malone – Wow (3)
Kodak Black – Calling My Spirit (2)
Twice – The Best Thing I Ever Did (2)
Sea Girls – All I Want to Hear You Say (1)