Deadshirt Is Listening… Bringing you a rundown of our staff and guest contributors’ favorite new tracks released in the past week after they’ve had the weekend to blast them in their cars, in a club, alone in their rooms, etc.
Haley Winters is defending….
“Pablow the Blowfish”
Guess what, Miley haters: you’re on the wrong side of history. This week, the gossip world was on fire with the news that Miley Cyrus had released an emotional song about her dead fish. Lots of laughs to be had, for sure, but when I finally sat down and watched the Backyard Session of “Pablow the Blowfish,” I was, if you’ll pardon the pun, blown away. And I’m also really frustrated. Because the reaction to “Pablow” is all wrong, and it has everything to do with who Miley Cyrus is, and nothing to do with this gorgeous little ballad.
The song is the story of a girl who accidentally kills her pet fish. We can assume she’s killed the fish, because no matter what causes your pet fish’s death, it’s definitely your fault. It’s a story about the narrator’s guilt and deep insecurity as much as it is the mourning of a fish. It’s both funny and sad in equal measure, and it’s the ironic balance of the two that make this number really noteworthy. The lyrics (which have been laid out and laid into as ridiculous and simplistic) are bare and sweet, and when Miley breaks down into tears at the end, it’s not because of how much she misses Pablow, it’s because she is an artist who is willing to put her emotions on the line during a performance. If this is the kind of songwriting we can begin to expect from Miley Cyrus—funny, poignant, and self-aware—then we’ve got a lot to look forward to.
Dominic Griffin is hopping out the motherfuckin’ Porsche to…..
Diplo x CL x RiFF RaFF x OG Maco
Pseudo Trap Pop Ephemera
Despite the gauntlet of disparate talent on the tin, the latest mixed tag team posse cut from cultural appropriation maestro Diplo feels like a near miss. It’s not a dud by any stretch of the imagination, even if it only scores a 6.8 on the Whip Vine scale I’ve been using to judge all music for the last week. Collab tracks like this always feel kind of thrown together, even at their best, but everyone here seems content to phone their contributions all the way in. The instrumental feels like a beat Diplo found in an unmarked folder on his desktop, but it gets the job done. RiFF continues to haphazardly retread his prime preoccupations (bright colors, stunting, gaining weight, etc), but outside of a guffaw-inducing ice skating punchlines, he comes off sleepily. Maco’s verse similarly trades in half-hearted nothingisms, even if the the absurd cover art seems like the “U Guessed It” emcee sending quasi-rival Keith Ape a snap captioned “how my ass taste?” All that said, these team-ups always have a clear winner. In this case, it’s 2NE1’s breakout solo star Queen CL, radiating like a white dwarf star even while she’s essentially slumming it for Faderfort remix bait.
The Jeremy Scott-flaunting, Scooter Braun-managed starlet avails herself nicely here, swaggering over Diplo’s plodding synths with a flow that tips its hat a little too hard at “Pour It Up” but she’s the pop glue that holds this disaster together. With co-signs for days, charisma leaking from her pores, and the kind of carefree spirit that made Rihanna an Instagram Goddess, CL is bound to break big this year, but when it happens, it’ll hopefully be on a track more ambitious and infectious than “Doctor Pepper.” As it stands, this is her Avengers mid-credits scene debut, and we’re all going to have to wait for Infinity War for her to really stunt.
David Lebovitz is shaking it like a Polaroid picture to…
This Means War
Blue Eyed Soul
Okay, elephant in the room—yes, the official audio video is kind of nightmare fuel, like some kind of Marilyn Manson version of Yellow Submarine, but we’re here to talk about the music.
I’ve used this space before to champion ZZ Ward, and how she’s in a good position to both A) be a star in her own right, and B) help fill the cultural hole left by the departed Amy Winehouse and the increasingly Duke Nukem-esque on-hiatus Adele. Her new single, “Love 3X” from her upcoming album This Means War, reinforces both of those points.
The cheery instrumentals, upbeat vocals, and happy-sounding sing-a-long chorus mask some dark lyrics that take a listen or two to pick up. Ward’s vocals—a distinct marriage of old school sensibilities and a modern edge—are solid throughout, and the bright musicianship showcases the talent with which she surrounds herself.
“Love 3X” is already a dark horse contender for song of the summer, provided “Uptown Funk” still isn’t on the charts. Sure, that may sound strange (the former part, the latter is 100% believable), but if Carly Rae Jepsen can come from nowhere and conquer the world with the musical equivalent of comic sans, it’s not inconceivable that a moderately established act like Ward could take a least a subset of the country by storm soon.
Mike Duquette is coasting to…
Jean-Michel Jarre & M83
2015 is bringing new albums from Nile Rodgers’ CHIC and Giorgio Moroder, so why not check out another seventies technological pop pioneer making a collaborative comeback, too: Jean-Michel Jarre, who revolutionized electronic ambient music with Oxygène (1976) and Équinoxe, is preparing a new album of his own. While Jarre might only be a household name to those who know their ARPs from their Fairlights, his atmospheric keyboard sounds are as in as they ever were, and his forthcoming record, due this fall, promises collaborations with heavy hitters old and new, including Tangerine Dream (one of the last recordings to feature founder Edger Froese, who passed away in January), Massive Attack and fellow French synth-poppers M83.
“Glory,” featuring vocals from M83 frontman Anthony Gonzalez, is a great, outsized track for the summer, all determined synths and airy, hopeful vocals. A lot has changed since Jarre constructed Oxygène in a makeshift home studio, but his sound still hits as hard as it did nearly 40 years ago.
“Boom Clap (Stripped Version)”
Charli XCX feat. Nile Rodgers
If you still need convincing that Charli XCX is one of the most exciting pop performers in the game right now—as if Sam Paxton’s review of major label debut Sucker didn’t already do the trick—why not check out a new version of last year’s summer jam “Boom Clap.” Recorded impromptu at the launch of a new streaming music service, MixRadio, this recording features Charli’s intoxicating vocals supported only by the distinctive guitar of CHIC mastermind Nile Rodgers. It’s another sweet treat to ease you into the summer!