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.
Mike Duquette is lying down for…
With all due respect to Michael, gone six years last week, the work of the Jackson clan’s youngest deserves a closer look. Too few are talking about Janet Jackson boldly forging a new direction for pop music in the eighties and nineties, her impassioned voice singing for personal, social, and sexual liberation. Without the three-hit combo of Control (1986), Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989), and janet. (1993), pop music in the new millennium—the Britneys and Katys of the world—wouldn’t exist.
In recent years, Janet’s star has unfortunately been overshadowed by controversies (the unfortunate shame angle of her Super Bowl performance with Timberlake), overshadowing (your iconic big brother dying will do that), and plain silence (her last studio album was released seven years ago). Miss Jackson’s sultry new jam “No Sleeep,” the prelude a new album and world tour, looks to change that.
Reuniting with longtime collaborators/producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Janet eschews industrial beats and shimmering synth ballads for a mature, confident, sexy slice of quiet storm R&B, the kind that’s scarcely been heard since mid-eighties Motown. “48 hours in love/It oughta be a weekend marathon,” Janet coos, teeing up one of the most unabashedly sexy songs of not just her career, but the whole year. Here’s hoping the rest of the LP will be as nasty—or as nice—as fans deserve.
Julian Ames is pretending it’s not cold and rainy to…
“U Know I Know”
Samantha Urbani is relatively unknown in the music scene; if you DO know her, chances are it was as the frontwoman of the indie pop group Friends, who had one album in 2012 and then disappeared/broke up. You might also recognize her as the female voice on a handful of tracks off of Cupid Deluxe—the second album of Dev Hynes’ Blood Orange project—but that obscure bit of information requires a bit of digging to discover. But those were her only two major credits, until April, when she released “1 2 3 4,” a fun, new wave-y pop tune. It was clear she was able to enlist Hynes to help with production as his influence is heavy on that track. (See his other work with female artists like Sky Ferreria and Carly Rae Jepsen.)
The same can be said for the newly released song “U Know I Know,” although this time it’s Hynes’ former Test Icicles bandmate Sam Mehran helping with production. The verses of “U Know I Know” have a slight reggae feel but with cool synths and huge, stadium-filling drums—Madonna fans might enjoy the similarities between this song and “La Isla Bonita.” The chorus feels more modern with its trap-like beat. Urbani is a more than capable singer; her voice bounces between octaves at certain points, and there’s some good harmonized ooh’s throughout. She even breaks into a half-spoken half-rapped segment at the bridge, her cool tone mitigating any cheese factor that a rap breakdown might have. “U Know I Know” is Samantha Urbani’s attempt to worm her way out of relative obscurity and into our ears and our hearts, and what better way to do that than a catchy summer jam like this one. I’m putting “U Know I Know” right next to Jamie xx’s “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” on my summer playlist, and it should be somewhere on yours too.
David Lebovitz is somersaulting to…
“Bills Bills Bills” (Destiny’s Child cover)
They Might Be Giants
Oh, AV Undercover, you are a delight. TMBG’s take on Chumbawamaba is an all time great edition of their series, and the AV Club convinced TMBG to come back. They decided to take on something a little less…them for this take: Destiny’s Child’s “Bills Bills Bills.”
When AV Undercover is at its best, the band doing the cover can make it sound like the song was written specifically for them, even when you know the source material. (GWAR is the exception, because GWAR does what GWAR wants.) TMBG accomplishes the hell out of this. The absurdly specific and wordy lyrics might as well have been written by the Johns, save the use of the words “baller” and “squirrel” which they somehow sing with straight faces.
By the way, this cover is now available through Dial-A-Song. I love TMBG so much. Also: hey, AV Club, what are the odds we can get Kelly Rowland in there to cover “Ana Ng?”