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.
Dominic Griffin is prom dancing to…
Carly Rae Jepsen
I’m a serious late comer to the Carly Bae Jepsen party. I don’t know if I ever really gave too much of a shit about “Call Me Maybe” (outside of the excellent Saint Pepsi edit), and her singles “I Really Really Like You” and “Warm Blood” took a bit to resonate with me. Despite this, after casually skimming her latest LP on Spotify, I basically haven’t stopped playing it since. Like, it’s a wonder I was able to put on pants and go to work this morning, as this process required me to part ways with this resplendent little collection of pure pop songs for a painfully long amount of time (like, fifteen minutes).
Others have already compared E*MO*TION to, say, Taylor Swift’s 1989, which isn’t necessarily the most fair conflation. (Plus, like, why pit women against each other, right Tay?) As much of a revelation as hearing Swift go Full-On Pop was, hearing Jepsen refine and strengthen her chops to such a frightening level of quality and assuredness is a true spectacle. If 1989 was Leonardo DiCaprio in Gangs of New York, a showy, cred-building monument to national artistic acceptance, then E*MO*TION is Leo in Catch Me If You Can, a canny, shockingly moving piece of fluff with far more resonance than it ought to possess. It’s top to bottom sturdy, relatable songcraft, buoyed by expert production and strong sequencing. Pretty much the only LP that gives it a run for its money this year is Wonder Girls’ Reboot. It exists in that sweet spot between art and commerce that all great pieces of pop aspire to, while remaining fiercely personal.
There’s a lot of standout cuts, but none more replayable than “All That,” featuring that Blood Orange magic Dev Hynes has been doling out in recent years.
Look, I know she played it on SNL in fucking April, okay, but I didn’t see it then. It crept the fuck up on me at the end of Side A, this fog machine & disco ball-laden eighties TimeHop of wispy effervescence. Seriously, this song had me slow dancing with my damn self on the train. It’s beautiful in a really reliable way, like a dress you know will turn heads but are always pleasantly surprised by compliments for. If I were the showrunner for a teen soap opera on The CW, I would pay all the money to get this to close my mid-season finale when a highly shipped couple Tumblr loves finally consummates their subtle mutual crushes. It’s just…*kisses fingers*
Joe Stando is genuinely appreciating…
“What are the Chances?”
Every time I write about music, it feels like I’m betraying a bunch of ignorance. It’s not a bad thing; it’s actually somewhat humbling and helps me push my boundaries. This week, I discovered that this old band, Duran Duran, is still around! They have a new album coming out! Imagine that! (Mike Duquette is on his way over to kill me now, I imagine.)
Anyway, as a guy who remembers Duran Duran as an older, static group, this track was really weird and cool for me. It’s synthy but not overly old-fashioned, and has an immersive quality. It’s not overpowering, but I like the way it sort of fades in and out at times. Lyrically it’s a song about loss, and that tone is reflected in the melody, but it’s not a total dirge, either. It’s certainly not the Duran Duran I remember, but I’m a fan, and it’s enough to get me to check out what I missed in the interim.
Mike Duquette is saying yes to…
Definitely call it a comeback. Joanna “JoJo” Levesque impacted the Billboard charts as a teenager with the R&B-flavored hits “Leave (Get Out)” and the smash “Too Little Too Late” in 2004 and 2006, before a prolonged legal battle with her label kept her on the sidelines for nearly a decade.
Now, after a handful of mixtapes and EPs (most recently last year’s covers mix #LoveJo), the 24-year-old singer has released a trio of tunes (a “tringle,” she calls it) to tease her forthcoming third album. A killer teaser of things to come, the standout track is “Say Love,” a powerhouse ballad written by Harmony Samuels (co-writer of Ariana Grande’s “The Way”) that puts JoJo’s gripping vocal delivery front and center. At once a throwback to ceiling-shattering balladry by Whitney or Mariah and a killer romantic track for the here and now, “Say Love” makes the wait for a new JoJo album that much harder—although, mercifully, it’s closer than ever.