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 going “In-Zayn!” for…
Zayn Ma–oh, sorry, just ZAYN now, DAD
Mind of Mine
And so it came to pass that Zayn Malik, the bearded sexual man created when Simon Cowell accidentally sneezed into a boy band machine in England, did set off to make a name for himself as a solo artist. He’d studied the ancient scrolls—”Solsbury Hill,” “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free,” “My Prerogative,” “Like I Love You”—and prepared himself for battle. He adopted all the right poses: spilling juice on himself in a magazine, coolly admitting that he never really liked to sing cool Fleetwood Mac-lite folk rock with his old cohorts in Clan Dyrectyn, and kissing the pretty Instagram lady who promised to kill for Taylor Swift.
Now we have his first solo single, “Pillowtalk,” which hits all the right spots a pop song in 2016 should: there’s the woozy production that sounds like Zayn’s singing in a very sterile plastic room; an OK-you-right vocal performance that’s short on enunciation but high on emotion (“in-da-bed-a-day / bed-a-day,” it sounds like he’s singing); and the lyrics that make having sex sound like the most dramatic thing since Billy Joel went insane over a bunch of notes in an old history textbook.
It’s no “Some Girls (Dance with Women),” but it gets the job done. Congratulations, Zayn! May you continue to kiss everyone on Instagram that you like and inspire “your old lads” from the One Direction to competitively write a song about fucking in outer space.
David Lebovitz is strumming along to…
Out of Oz: Wicked Studio Sessions
Broadway staple Wicked has spent the last few months releasing videos for their Out Of Oz series, a selection of stripped down songs sung by current Wicked cast members and alumni. Each of these arrangements has a twist on the original—sometimes they’re duets, sometimes they’re just accompanied by an acoustic guitar, and sometimes they’re gender bent. In this installment, former Fiero Aaron Tveit sings Glinda’s song, “Popular.”
If the name Aaron Tveit sounds familiar, it’s probably because you saw him last night, starring as Danny in Grease: Live!, but he’s got a solid following among Broadway fans. He originated the roles of Gabe in Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next To Normal and Frank Abagnale in the Catch Me If You Can musical, and had a turn as Link Larkin in Hairspray. Suffice to say, his pedigree is solid. (Also, he was on Gossip Girl, but that’s far outside my wheelhouse.)
It’s undeniably strange to hear this song sung by a man—it’s, by design, a feminine song, and hard not to hear in Kristin Chenoweth’s helium voice. Tveit does the whole thing stonefaced too, never once cracking a smile or breaking. And yet… it works. Tveit’s high voice fits the character, it’s (for the most part) technically solid, and it’s a pleasant listen. The gender bending aspect makes it stand out, and it’s good to see Wicked finding ways to keep things fresh now that it’s an elder statesman of Broadway
Julian Ames is waking up to…
Ellery James Robert has always had a penchant for writing epic and anthemic songs, but it seems he’s spent the time since the 2012 breakup of his band, WU LYF, growing his musical palette and his arrangement skills. Where WU LYF was more or less a Vampire Weekend-type band drenched in echo and reverb effects, all indications are that his new project, LUH (Lost Under Heaven), is so much more then the guitar, bass, and drums model.
Back in 2014, when Robert first announced he was working with Ebony Hoorn as LUH, the first song we heard from the group was “Unites.” It was along the same lines as WU LYF’s work, but it felt more polished and less claustrophobic (it probably wasn’t recorded in a church, like the WU LYF album). “I&I” feels completely different; it’s one long build-up comprised of piano, strings, synthesizers, and just a hint of drums. There are only a few lines of lyrics repeated over and over again throughout the song, they mention early morning and the sun—and musically, the song mimics the feeling of a sun rise. We also finally get to hear Ebony Hoorn sing; she echoes Ellery James Robert’s lead vocals (which also helps to translate some of the more unintelligible lyrics sung in Robert’s gruff style).
In the YouTube description, Robert writes: “I&I speaks of impulse & limitation, the thoughts that pass through the morning air, the embers of dreams left unspoken then forgotten. The visual finds LUH portraying the taunts of duality, invocation of the rising sun to find the courage to act.” It seems he and Hoorn have found that courage, as he also declares “LUH set’s sail with sincerity in 2016. I&I is where we begin. looking forward to seeing you all, face to face.” The sun is shining brightly on LUH’s future. I expect big things from this band.