Deep Album Cuts Vol. 64: Gucci Mane

Friday, May 27, 2016



















Yesterday, Gucci Mane fans everywhere celebrated the unexpected news that he had been released from prison, about 4 months before anyone expected. It wasn't Gucci's first homecoming, and one of those periodic returns to freedom, in 2009, presaged one of the most productive and prolific runs in hip hop history. Many MCs had become legends thanks in part to a tireless work ethic, and for a long time it seemed like 2Pac's vault was bottomless. But while Lil Wayne set a new pace for southern rap with a flood of mixtapes that were often full of freestyles over industry beats, Gucci Mane kept up while making street albums almost exclusively with original beats from his busy stable of producers, writing hooks and multiple verses for hundreds of songs. He recorded so much music that the constant trickle of music even during his last couple years in prison only recently slowed down, and we're probably about to get a lot more.

Traditionally, I've reserved this series for artists who released the bulk of their material on proper albums, and have avoided a lot of contemporary rappers whose mixtapes aren't available on services like Spotify to easily make playlists. However, one of the things that has happened in the last couple years is that most of Gucci Mane's voluminous back catalog, including mixtapes that had previously never been sold through traditional retailers, went up on Spotify and other services. So I was able to make a playlist cherrypicking 21 tracks from 21 of his best or most high profile albums and mixtapes.

Gucci Mane Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist): 

1. First Day Out
2. Classical - Intro
3. Kill The Parking Lot
4. My Chain (featuring Black Magic)
5. On Deck
6. Follow Me (featuring Drumma Boi)
7. I Know Why (featuring Pimp C and Rich Boy)
8. Chasen Paper (featuring Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug)
9. Poltergeist (featuring Talib Kweli)
10. Servin'
11. Brand New
12. Chicken Talk
13. My Kitchen
14. Socialite
15. Shining For No Apparent Reason (featuring Waka Flocka Flame, Schife and Wooh Da Kid)
16. Lawnmower Man
17. Walkin' Lick
18. Scarface (featuring Scarface)
19. Laughin'
20. MVP (featuring Jagged Edge)
21. My Shadow

Track 16 from Trap House (2005)
Track 12 from Chicken Talk (2006)
Track 4 from Hard To Kill (2006)
Track 13 from No Pad, No Pencil (2007)
Track 7 from Back To The Trap House (2007)
Track 19 from Gucci Sosa (2008)
Track 5 from From Zone 6 To Duval (2008)
Track 3 from The Movie (2008)
Track 1 from Writing On The Wall (2009)
Track 21 from The Burrprint (The Movie 3D) (2009)
Track 6 from The Cold War: Part 1 (Guccimerica) (2009)
Track 2 from The State vs. Radric Davis (2009)
Track 15 from Burrrprint (2) HD (2010)
Track 14 from Mr. Zone 6 (2010)
Track 9 from Jewelry Selection (2010)
Track 11 from The Appeal: Georgia's Most Wanted (2010)
Track 20 from Writings On The Wall II (2011)
Track 17 from Trap Back (2012)
Track 18 from I'm Up (2012)
Track 10 from Trap God (2012)
Track 8 from Trap House III (2013)

Gucci Mane is an artist who can really blur the line between 'hits' and 'deep cuts.' Although he has a good dozen or so songs that were pushed by major labels as singles and charted on Billboard, there's a tier of many many other Gucci songs that countless club and radio DJs have kept in rotation for years. I mostly avoided those here, although I did include some pretty well known songs like "First Day Out" and "On Deck," probably my favorite Gucci song, which gets a lot of love in Baltimore but rarely seems to get enough acknowledgment on lists of his best work.

A lot of these songs that just stuck out to me when the tapes were new, although I have friends who've studied Gucci's catalog a lot more closely and I always check for what they recommend as standouts. I mean, it's insane that I can sample 20 mixtapes here and I'm still just skimming the surface and leaving out the huge amount of mixtapes that have been assembled and released while Gucci Mane's been away. I always enjoy the outliers -- "MVP" is by far my favorite R&B track from a rapper who's always had inconsistent success with them, and I really genuinely like the infamous "Poltergeist" and think both Gucci and Kweli sound great on it. And though Gucci's had great rapport with a huge number of producers, there are just so many Zaytoven tracks from every era of his career, so this is a pretty Zay-heavy mix.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time

Monthly Report: May 2016 Singles

Tuesday, May 24, 2016























1. Maxwell - "Lake By The Ocean"
In 2009, Maxwell returned from an 8-year hiatus with a new album that he promised was part of a trilogy that he'd be rolling out in quick succession. Fast forward 7 years, and we're just now finally getting the 2nd album in that series. And perhaps the silliest thing about this protracted wait is that he released the single "Lake By The Ocean," which he'd been mentioning for months or years, just after a goofy song called "Cake By The Ocean" was a massive pop hit. I love both songs, though. "Lake By The Ocean" isn't the instant smash "Pretty Wings" was, and I've heard some R&B fans kind of dismiss it, but I love its gentle groove and the subtly weird effects or triggers going on with the hi-hats, Maxwell records always tend to have these really understated creative production touches that reward repeat listening. Here's my favorite 2016 singles playlist on Spotify.

2. Eric Church - "Record Year"
Mr. Misunderstood was pretty much country music's first high profile 'surprise' album, and if it has any function as a test case, it would seem to indicate that surprise releases are not a good idea for country artists. Eric Church had already kinda peaked in popularity, but this album has still performed terribly by any measure -- hasn't gone gold in 6 months, and the first two singles both missed the top 10 on the country airplay charts. And it's a shame because "Record Year" is a fantastic song that deserves to be one of his bigger hits, putting a little more emotional resonance into the record collection namechecking that was also all over "Mr. Misunderstood."

3. Dreezy f/ Jeremih - "Body"
This song took a while to grow on me but it really does have that iridescent joyful quality that Jeremih brings more than almost anyone else in popular music these days. but Dreezy still really maintains ownership of the song and doesn't get Natalie La Rose'd on her own track. The best part is that spoken "you gon' catch a body if you ain't careful" part of the chorus that feels like it was just ad libbed but then they looped it and kind of created a place for it in the melody, that's just some brilliant songwriting.

4. Rihanna - "Kiss It Better"
I included "Kiss It Better" in my piece for Complex earlier this month predicting songs of the summer, but to be honest it's already looking a little like wishful thinking -- Rihanna's other single released simultaneously to R&B radio, "Needed Me," is doing much better on the charts, and her new song with Calvin Harris seems like it's quickly taken "Kiss It Better"'s spot on pop radio. I really love this song, though, I think it's by far the best thing she's done this whole album cycle. I dig the way the trilling hi-hats accent the melody, "Dangerous Woman" does that a bit too, puts a fresh twist on something that had become kind of a production cliche.

5. Troye Sivan - "Youth"
A teen YouTube celebrity mewling "my youth, my youth, my youth is yours" probably shouldn't be as rousing and enjoyable as this is. When he performed on the Billboard Music Awards the other night, my wife, who had never heard the song before, turned to me and said "this is a weird premise for a song, I feel like he's talking about a vampire."

6. Justin Timberlake - "Can't Stop The Feeling!"
This song really seems to mark the point where Justin Timberlake has completely ceased to be cool, and it really kinda seems like he's doing it on purpose, even though the world really enjoyed him being cool and wanted him to keep it up. That really started with "Suit & Tie" but this is the decisive point where he's just a total and literal dad, and honestly I'm not mad at it -- you've got Bieber, Zayn, Nick Jonas and who knows how many other guys following his Justified-era career model right now, so he might as well become something else. But as sick as I was of his repetitive work with Timbaland, this song at least sounds a little fresh and a little different, ironically because it marks Justin's first work in 16 years with Max Martin, who did a few early N Sync hits. I'm sure I'll get good and sick of this song once it reaches the "Happy" levels of ubiquity it seems destined for, but for now I enjoy it.

7. Yo Gotti f/ E-40 - "Law"
The first time I ever heard E-40 was when he popped up on the Cash Money posse cut "Baller Blockin'," and even then he had the air of this regional rap elder statesman who wasn't that famous but could pop up on anybody's track at any time. So it's crazy that he's still on that wave a whole 15 or 16 years later, appearing on a giant hit by Big Sean and more recently moderate hits by Yo Gotti and Ty Dolla $ign. I didn't expect "Law" to be as big as it is, just because it's kind of just another Yo Gotti song and not a crossover slam dunk like "Down In The DM," but I'm glad it's doing well.

8. Clare Dunn - "Tuxedo"
This song has been hanging around the lower reaches of the country charts, but the first time I heard it wasn't on a country station, and it didn't even register as a country song, it just sounded like a pop hit. Generally saying that kind of thing comes across as a knock, but it's just a really catchy song, I feel like they could change the reference to George Strait and pretty easily work this to Top 40 or adult contemporary radio, it got stuck in my head all morning the first time I heard it.

9. Kelsea Ballerini - "Peter Pan"
A while back I heard a song on the radio with a whole Peter Pan metaphor and really liked it, but then I heard it again a few weeks later and hated it. Then I realized that it was two totally different songs, and that I hated Ruth B's "Lost Boy" but enjoyed Kelsea Ballerini's "Peter Pan."

10. Muse - "Reapers"
Muse are a pretty goofy band who are often unbearable, but I find myself enjoying their really ridiculous bombastic songs like "Knights of Cydonia" or "Panic Station." And "Reapers" falls pretty well into that tradition, the guitar solo is just kind of hilarious but I feel like they're having fun playing with these over-the-top sounds and it's infectious.

The Worst Single of the Month: The Strumbellas - "Spirits"
These kinds of hippie singalongs have become increasingly common on alt-rock radio in the last few years, and I don't even reflexively dislike them all. But man, this song is just awful, maybe as bad as Sheppard's "Geronimo."

Friday, May 20, 2016
















I wrote a piece for Rolling Stone about 5 of the best cover songs by Ariana Grande.

TV Diary

Wednesday, May 18, 2016
























a) "The Night Manager"
I always thought about all the great roles Hugh Laurie could be doing when he was stuck making 8 seasons of "House" way past when that show had ceased to be interesting. So it's nice to see him in stuff like "Veep" and this, where he plays a villainous arms dealer. I'm 5 episodes into the 6-part miniseries and it's really good, although I feel like they're not having enough fun with the fact that Tom Hiddleston is basically a normal guy who gets thrown into this spy movie, at a certain point the humor of the first couple episodes has faded as the story has escalated.

b) "Houdini & Doyle"
4 different actors have portrayed Sherlock Holmes in major TV or film projects in the past 5 years, so it feels like some kind of ridiculous spillover Sherlock-mania that there's now also a show about Arthur Conan Doyle solving crimes. Apparently he and Houdini really did strike up a friendship and help the London police around the turn of the century, but even with some factual basis this show is obviously mostly about having fun with history and making up weird semi-magical mysteries for them to investigate. It's pretty enjoyable, though, I like the cast.

c) "The Girlfriend Experience"
I never saw the Soderbergh movie, so I can't compare this or say how different or similar it is. But I could see this kind of story working better as a feature film, halfway through the first season of the series it already feels like it's descended into a gloomy, repetitive rhythm. I mean, it's very interesting as a show co-written by a woman that takes a realistic, unglamorous look at sex work, it's a perspective you don't see much. But the main character is such a blank slate that I don't know if there's enough plot in the second half of the season to hold my attention.

d) "Containment"
My wife is an epidemiologist, so I like watching things like Contagion and letting her explain and fact-check the science to me. And this miniseries on The CW is obviously not going to be the most scientifically rigorous show about an outbreak. But it's about a new mutation of a new avian flu mutation that starts spreading in America and is traced back to a Syrian immigrant, so it really just feels like this show is stoking two very unjustified paranoid media narratives at once, which is pretty disappointing.

e) "Game Of Silence"
This was adapted from a show in Turkey, about a group of childhood friends who go to jail, and kind of continue to be stuck in these dark violent lives as adults when they get out of jail. In the original show, all the kids had to do was steal some baklava to get thrown in Turkish prison, but in America they had to justify the prison sentence by having the kids steal a car for a joyride and crash into and kill another motorist. So basically, the one big plot adjustment they had to make in changing the location of the show also inherently made the lead characters way less sympathetic, so from the jump I'm not really rooting for these asshole kids to grow up and have decent lives. And the whole thing is just really dark and pointless, feels like some "Rectify"-style misery porn that's so big on TV these days.

f) "Time Traveling Bong"
When the latest season of "Broad City" ended, Comedy Central followed it up with a 3-part miniseries starring Ilana Glazer and the guy who plays Trey. And it's funny, but I dunno, it also feels like they wrote a stoner-themed Hot Tub Time Machine knockoff and no studio wanted it, so they did it on the cheap for Comedy Central. There's a few really funny scenes but it just feels like a forgettable side project.

g) "Lopez"
I feel like "semi-autobiographical single camera sitcom" is this perfunctory stage in every aging comedian's career now, and for every "Curb Your Enthusiasm" or "Louie" that does something people love with the format, there's a few shows that are just masturbatory in-jokey "Entourage"-style toothless showbiz satires. "Lopez" is somewhere in the middle, it's got some pretty sharp humor here and there and kinda lets George Lopez do something a little cranky and grown up after coming off like a jolly cheeseball in his talk show and his old sitcom. But again, it also just feels like a perfunctory career stage he's going through after those shows went off the air.

h) "Dice"
If George Lopez wasn't a very appetizing star for the "semi-autobiographical single camera sitcom" formula, Andrew Dice Clay is downright revolting. This show is mostly about breaking down the Dice mythos and letting him make fun of himself as this old has-been trying to get by in a more politically correct modern world, but really I feel like it's kind of easy and stupid and I just hate this guy so who cares. At least in "Vinyl" they killed him.

i) "The Real O'Neals"
This was the best of the networks' mid-season replacements this year, so I'm glad it got picked up for a second season, it can be hard to make that happen in May if you only debut in March. Sometimes I feel like the show is so old-fashioned in its "religious family coming to grips with the son being gay" theme that I forget that it takes place in the current day and not 2 or 3 decades ago, but the writing is really sharp and the cast had chemistry from the jump.

j) "The Family"
My wife accurately predicted this show's twist back when the show debuted, and I was bummed out that she turned out to be right. Not that I begrudge her being right, I just hate the whole switcheroo plot, and although I finished the season, I really just didn't care what happened after that, and I'm glad it's canceled.

k) "The Grinder" 

Of all the shows that were canceled last week, "The Grinder" and "Agent Carter" are the only ones that I was really anxious about being on the bubble and am really disappointed that they're canceled. But "The Grinder" really kinda worked through the premise so thoroughly, and did so many fun things with it, that I am happy to remember it fondly as a one season wonder, I don't know if they were set up to really thrive in the long run with such a weird show.

l) "Grace And Frankie" 
The first season of "Grace And Frankie" debuted a couple weeks after my son was born last year, and it was one of the rare Netflix shows I really binge watched because we were just home all the time with the baby and it turned out to be the warm, comforting show full of familiar old actors being funny and cantankerous. So I haven't rushed through the second season as quickly, I'm just a few episodes in, but it still seems to have the same charm.

m) "iZombie"
This show has been consistently great in the second season, and they ended the Steven Weber story arc really well. And it was great that TV writer Rob Thomas finally responded to years of jokes about his name by having Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas come on his show and get killed by zombies.

n) "The Last Man On Earth" 
This show was never about plausibility, so I've enjoyed the ridiculous plot where Will Forte's astronaut brother Jason Sudeikis lands back on earth and they're reunited. I always feel like the show is falling short by leaning so hard on Forte doing a typical sitcom schlemiel thing, the show has always been its funniest when it didn't rely on that for laughs.

o) "Empire" 
This show is just not as deliriously entertaining as it was in the beginning, and you can kinda see the ratings and the Twitter discussions dropping off already. But now and again a couple of characters will repeatedly, solemnly refer to a song called "Boom Boom Boom Boom" and I'm like I'm so glad this is on TV.

p) "The Mindy Project"
Last week, well into the 4th season, Mindy Kaling did an episode that kind of finally responded to frequent criticisms of her show only ever depicting her dating white men. And it was really frank and funny and unsparing while also not feeling like a crowd-pleasing capitulation to that criticism. But I feel like she'll probably never do an episode like that again, and people will just continue to be unhappy with the show not making her race the main topic of the show, for better or worse.

q) "Saturday Night Live" 

I really like the current "SNL" cast but outside of the Ariana Grande episode I feel like this season will go down as one of its worst in recent memory. The Trump-hosted episode will live on as one of those infamous incidents that people talk down on in oral histories, but really other than Ariana Grande's episode and maybe Peter Dinklage's, there were a lot of episodes that just barely got a laugh out of me the whole night. I feel like so many people have been on the show so long that there will be a few cast shakeups this summer, but I'd rather see them replace the writing staff, it feels like the writers have been letting the cast down.

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 63: The Time

Tuesday, May 17, 2016
























I made a playlist of Prince deep album cuts last year, and then after his death last month, I made a list of my 100 favorite Prince songs. And on the latter I threw in a handful of songs he wrote and produced for other artists, including The Time's "Jungle Love." But really, there's a whole fascinating shadow discography of work Prince did with other acts, and The Time have a pretty estimable discography in and of themselves.

Calling them 'Prince proteges' doesn't seem quite right -- Prince plucked a lot of singers and groups out of relatively obscurity, wrote a few songs or an album or two for them, and then moved on. But The Time were his friends and peers, guys from his hometown. They were also one of the few opening acts Prince ever had that he seemed to have to ever compete with, and for a time they were even commercially on his level. The Time had 9 songs on the R&B charts from 1981 to 1985, during a period in which Prince had about 12 songs on the chart. Of course, they didn't have any crossover hits on the scale of "Little Red Corvette," but for certain audiences, they were right at his heels.

The Time Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist / Tidal playlist): 

1. Wild And Loose
2. My Drawers
3. Oh, Baby
4. Onedayi'mgonnabesomebody
5. After Hi School
6. I Don't Wanna Leave You
7. Chili Sauce
8. If The Kid Can't Make You Come
9. My Summertime Thang
10. Release It
11. Love Machine
12. Condensate
13. Shake
14. Donald Trump (Black Version)
15. Faithful
16. It's Your World

Tracks 3 and 5 from The Time (1981)
Tracks 1, 4 and 6 from What Time Is It? (1982)
Tracks 2, 7 and 8 from Ice Cream Castle (1984)
Tracks 9, 14 and 16 from Pandemonium (1990)
Tracks 10, 11 and 13 from Prince's Graffiti Bridge (1990)
Tracks 12 and 15 from The Original 7ven's Condensate (2011)

Since Prince's albums are only on Tidal, the complete playlist is only available there. But I also put the rest of the playlist on Spotify, since The Time's first four albums represent easily the majority of the Prince music currently available on Spotify (a lot of other Prince protege albums are long out of print, and before he died, he even took a lot of the most famous Prince covers and Prince-penned hits, by The Bangles and Sinead O'Connor and others, off of Spotify).

The list is divided roughly into two halves -- the group's original early '80s run, and the sporadic reunions that followed. Ironically, though the band is largely remembered for Purple Rain, they'd already split up by the time the movie came out. But they reunited a few years later, earning their first top 10 pop hit, "Jerk Out," in 1990, before going their separate ways again. R&B radio changed so much in the early '90s that it's hard to imagine they would've continued having that kind of success, though. Though they reunited in 2008 and toured as The Time, but for some manner of legal reasons (perhaps Prince-related, I'm not sure), they changed their name to The Original 7ven to release an album.

There was a weird tension between Prince and The Time -- a lot of acts were happy to have Prince hand them fully completed albums to add vocal tracks to, but The Time were talented guys who were great onstage and could've made records without his help. And when Prince didn't give them the chance to prove it, the group eventually disbanded, with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis going off to become the primary producers for another superstar's discography. And as I mentioned in my Janet Jackson deep cuts post, it wasn't just Jimmy and Terry -- a total of 5 members of The Time have produced Janet records (Jesse Johnson worked on her first album, Jellybean Johnson produced "Black Cat," and Monte Moir did "Pleasure Principal"). In a 2014 interview that Rolling Stone just published after Prince's death, however, he did speak about the truth of his work with The Time and other atists ("It was all collaborative. It's not just my vision."). But since Prince had a habit of not giving people writing credits for some songs they helped create, and even weirdly gave people credits on songs they didn't work on at times, it's hard to really know what was what.

To some degree, Prince kind of used The Time as instruments to sell the world on 'the Minneapolis sound' and the First Avenue scene as it was mythologized in Purple Rain. That's not to say that there wasn't a unique R&B community in the city, but Prince was able to kind of exaggerate it, with him at the center, by giving The Time songs that sounded like Prince tracks instead of maybe letting them have their own vision that didn't trace the Minneapolis sound so directly back to him.

Prince, Morris Day, and Jerome Benton recorded a new The Time album in 1989, Corporate World, that was shelved. Instead, the whole band came back together to work on Pandemonium, this time with more creative control of their own album, and various Corporate World tracks were reworked for either Pandemonium or the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack. As a sequel to Purple Rain, obviously Graffiti Bridge is a lousy movie, but as '90s Prince albums go it's pretty good, and I enjoy that it has songs by The Time and other artists threaded through it. It's hard to find any fault with the Purple Rain album, but sometimes I kinda wish it had been a double LP with songs by all the other artists in the movie.

If we were going to look at The Time's records as part of Prince's discography, What Time Is It? would be one of my favorite Prince albums, but it's also just great on its own terms. There's a simplified narrative that The Time got some of Prince's more 'black' material while he was off doing the psychedelic pop stuff with Wendy & Lisa, but The Time have a pretty nice diverse soup of hard rock and new wave and weirdness in the mix. Morris Day isn't as good a vocalist as Prince, but he has an electric, hammy on-record presence, something like an R&B version of David Lee Roth. And there are great deep cuts all over their brief discography, particularly "My Summertime Thang," which has worked its way into D'Angelo's arsenal of Prince covers. And "Donald Trump (Black Version)," which was a pretty weird concept for a song even when Prince wrote it in 1989, is even more surreal in 2016.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies

Monday, May 16, 2016


















The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds turns 50 years old today, and I contributed to a Rolling Stone piece about other classic albums that weren't very successful when originally released.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

















I made some early "song of the summer" predictions for 2016 on Complex.

Friday, May 06, 2016

























I'm very excited that my first piece for Billboard was published this week, Panda Express: Desiigner & the History of No. 1 Debut Rap Hits on the Hot 100.

Movie Diary

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

























a) Trainwreck
As major a figure as Judd Apatow is on the comedy landscape, I almost feel like he'd done everything he could to tank his directorial career, with pretty much each of his first 4 movies getting progressively longer, more indulgent, less funny, and more centered around roles for his wife and/or kids. So while it was kind of a big win for Amy Schumer to have Apatow direct her first big film vehicle, I almost feel like he needed someone new to build a movie around like he did for Seth Rogen to make his best movie since Knocked Up. But it's still way too long, and I don't know why this guy insists on making 2+ hour comedies when the plots are always so simple and you could easily just make a lot of the comedic setpieces shorter. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie, though, there were some really funny parts that weren't in the trailers at all, but compared to the creative breakthrough of the 3rd season of "Inside Amy Schumer" this kind of felt like a really simple, uninspired premise that she had to liven up with the dialogue.

b) Vacation
I don't have any particular reverence for the original movies, European Vacation is kind of a good lazy Sunday cable movie. But man, this was just lame, Ed Helms has a thing he does well but he wasn't the right guy to put this franchise on the shoulders of. By far the funniest scene in the entire movie is the Four Corners scene where the four cops start arguing and basically steal away the movie from the main cast for a couple minutes.

c) Magic Mike XXL
Alex Pettyfer was to Magic Mike as Michael O'Keefe was to Caddyshack, so it makes sense that they ditched the original movie's protagonist for a crowd-pleasing sequel. Removing the Pettyfer and Cody Horn soap opera leaves what remains a little rudderless, but I have no objection to the rare superficial fun Hollywood movie of this kind not being aimed specifically at my heterosexual male gaze. So it would be churlish for me to harp on how this came off a little empty, but what surprised me was that it felt a little less charming and light on its feet in its best moments than the original did. And honestly it's just hard to feel good about a movie that ends by unironically blasting "All I Do Is Win" at you. 

d) Ant-Man
I tend to prefer the Marvel movies that have a bit more levity in them, and this was better than Guardians Of The Galaxy and up there with the better Iron Man movies. It's kind of a relief that the movie turned out as well as it did, I felt bad about Edgar Wright walking off of the movie, but it seems like the final product has a lot of his fingerprints on it, or at least the director who took it over, Peyton Reed, did a good job with it. 

e) Jurassic World
I feel like most kids go through a 'dinosaur' phase, and mine was pretty heavy duty, I had textbooks about dinosaurs and wanted to be a paleontologist when I grew up and everything. But I had kind of passed by that phase by the time Jurassic Park came out when I was 11, I liked the movie and read the book but it was never that big a deal to me. My wife is a little younger than me, though, and the raptors scared the crap out of her as a kid, and she was excited about the new movie. I liked it, it was pretty impressed with some of the action setpieces, but the main plot was kinda cheesy, I irrationally love Bryce Dallas Howard but the whole dynamic with her and Chris Pratt was such a lame cliche. I would've liked to see a version of this movie where Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus's characters in the control room were the male and female leads of the movie.

f) Accidental Love
This is the infamous movie filmed by David O. Russell in 2008 as Nailed, which was finally released under a different title with his name taken off of it 7 years later. It's fascinating to me because he basically kept making these idiosyncratic niche movies like I Heart Huckabees until this one went completely off the rails, and then he made a major course correction to extremely safe Oscar bait like The Fighter and American Hustle. I feel like this movie had potential but it's really hard to judge it by an edit that the director objected to so much that he took his name off of it, it's just kind of a mess, even the scene at the beginning where Jessica Biel gets hit in the head with a nail gun, it just happens so fast and you barely can tell what's going on, and that's supposed to be the pivotal scene that sets the entire plot into action.

This is one of those British movies that was a huge hit at home but for some reason never crossover to the states like The Full Monty or whatever crap we tend to import. It's pretty charming, though, and fun to see James Corden in an early role. 

Monthly Report: April 2016 Albums

Tuesday, May 03, 2016































1. Beyonce - Lemonade
Beyonce's last album was so good, in that sprawling definitive career statement kind of way, that I was excited to see what she'd do next but also apprehensive. You know, you don't want someone to switch up too much after album like that but you also don't want a crowd-pleasing sequel. So I'm really happy that Lemonade is as musically varied and adventurous, but headed in fairly different directions (never thought a Beyonce/Jack White collaboration could be as good as "Don't Hurt Yourself" is), and much more focused on a narrative throughline in the lyrics. It feels silly to say you 'relate' to Beyonce and Jay-Z, but to be honest I've always liked her music celebrating the longevity of their relationship because they started dating around the same time I met my wife, married around the same time as us, had a kid around the same time as us. So in a way this album is jarring for me because it's like damn, they had some bumps in the road, I hope that's never us. But as far as the songs, there's a lot to love here, from the bridge of "6 Inch" (maybe my favorite minute of the album, though it's sandwiched between some kind of obvious Isaac Hayes samples), to that gorgeous trembling opening of "Pray That You Catch Me" and the way the emotions shift and melt in that middle section from "Sorry" to "Love Drought."

2. Dej Loaf - All Jokes Aside
As much as I enjoyed Dej Loaf's earlier releases, it was really her unique voice and persona and her facility for hooks that made her an interesting new star -- she had some hot verses (I loved her on the "Post To Be" remix) but not too consistently. She really stepped up the bars on All Jokes Aside, though, I heard "Chase Mine" and was just hooked. There's also a few tracks here by "Try Me" producer DDS so she's still kinda sticking with her signature sound, but there's also some different kinds of beats I've never heard her on before. I'm actually kind of pissed that this is a mixtape, because so far Sony's only released an EP by her, and the number of women who've released major label rap albums in the last few years is pathetically small, they should've thrown "Back Up" on here when it was on the radio and put a barcode on All Jokes Aside as a retail album, it's that good (they'd probably need more features than just Silkk The Shocker, I guess). Listen to it on DatPiff.

3. Gallant - Ology
I checked out this album because Gallant was suggested to me to include in my Coachella preview piece for Complex, and I was really impressed. His voice is just impossibly silky and it feels more like a modernized version of slick cosmopolitan '80s/'90s soul than a lot of these kinds of overly hip nu-R&B records by people who can't really sing. Right now my favorites are "Bourbon" and "Episode," you can hear it on my 2016 albums Spotify playlist.

4. Horse Lords - Interventions
Baltimore is probably like a lot of cities in that the music scene has a small number of stable, long running bands and dozens of musicians who are always starting new bands and breaking them up and combining with each other in new configurations. So I'd heard the members of Horse Lords in various other bands over the years (Teeth Mountain, Needle Gun, White Life) but when this band started there seemed to be a lot of excitement about them around town, from the moment they started playing shows, and it's continued over the last few years with the really starting to get well known out of town with this new album. And they're an instrumental band that makes these knotty, hypnotic songs, so it's an interesting project to see some talented people really click and find an audience with.

5. Anna Wise - The Feminine: Act I EP
Anna Wise has appeared on a lot of Kendrick Lamar tracks, often singing with unison with him to create a weird disorienting sound on songs like "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" and "Cartoon & Cereal." So she never really seemed like the average hook singer, and her first solo release is pretty bold, out-there production with provocative, confrontational lyrics about gender and womanhood and misogyny. As an EP it feels like a warning shot that when she makes a full-length album she could be on some ambitious To Pimp A Butterfly shit, but the closing song "Go" is so good that I think she really could pull that off.

6. Chants - The Zookeeper EP
I've known Jordan a bit for years and he's a good dude and a brilliant drummer, and it's been cool to see him move into making kind of left-field electronic beats as Chants and have some success in that arena. I missed some of his recent records so I just started catching up on those when I noticed them after he put out this new record, but I really dig what he's doing. This EP is only 13 minutes long but it takes a lot of twists and turns into different sounds textures, has a little of that '90s IDM vibe of abrupt shifts in mood, but with a more contemporary sound, feels like a quick little journey.

7. DJ Quik & Problem - Rosecrans EP
The first time I ever heard Problem rap was on DJ Quik and Kurupt's BlaQKout, so it feels very appropriate to me that Problem is the other half of another fun, relaxed Quik collab project. This is only 6 tracks long and is mostly about vibing out to these lush, funky beats, but they both have conversational rhyming stills that fit together well in this context. I could deal without the Game and Wiz Khalifa verses, but whatever, they just sound like party guests who dropped by for a good time.

8. Freeway - Free Will
I loved Freeway's Roc-A-Fella output but I've also been pretty impressed with his indie projects and mixtapes since then (he once released over 100 songs in the space of a year that were frighteningly consistent). I never checked for Free's EP with Girl Talk, but he did some tracks here, and I feel kind of ashamed that Girl Talk baited me into geeking out over an indie rock sample in a rap song, but I love that loop of "Rubber Car" by Enon on "First Thing's First."

9. Bankroll Mafia - Bankroll Mafia
T.I. said "bankroll mafia" on his first collaboration with Young Thug, "About The Money," and now it's an actual group, although there are 4 other lesser known rappers in the group who get the majority of the verses on the album. It probably would've been more marketable to just make an EP of the 7 tracks that have Young Thug on them, but the whole thing is pretty good, and Shad Da God kind of turns up as the unexpected anchor of the group, I really became a fan of him based on this.

10. Boosie Badazz & C-Murder - Penitentiary Chances
Boosie released 3 remarkably good solo albums in the first 3 months of 2016, and he's kept up that pace in April, although it's a collaborative project that was mostly recorded a while ago. C-Murder has recorded multiple albums while incarcerated now, and they decided to do this album while Boosie was in Angola, so all of C-Murder's verses and most of Boosie's verses are these distorted vocal tracks recorded in prison. I really have no idea what the logistics of all that are, it's kinda crazy. But while this obviously isn't as polished as Boosie's other recent work, it's pretty harrowing stuff and the lo-fi sound kind of matches the content of songs like "Dear Supreme Court" and "Black Babies Don't Mourn."

Worst Album of the Month: PJ Harvey - The Hope Six Demolition Project
I've always been a pretty casual fan of PJ Harvey, I like Dry and some other records she's made but she was never a big deal to me where I have to hear every new album. I was intrigued to hear this one from the jump, though. First because she recorded it in public as an art exhibit, similar to a Beauty Pill album I wrote about last year (Beauty Pill's Chad Clark wrote about PJ's album here). And then, I was intrigued because this artists who's gotten nothing but glowing reviews her whole career was suddenly getting some really bad reviews (particularly this Tom Breihan review). And man, it really does come off badly, I just didn't enjoy the sledgehammer subtlety of this album's political commentary at all, and the whole thing just sounded drab and dull.

Sunday, May 01, 2016



















I wrote a little history of Drake's disses and subliminals for Rolling Stone.


Deep Album Cuts Vol. 62: The Posies

Thursday, April 28, 2016






















This week, The Posies are releasing their 8th full-length album, Solid States. And though I usually do deep cuts playlists for acts who had a lot of success on the singles charts, The Posies are one of my favorite bands that I'm always trying to turn people onto, whether they know '90s alt-rock radio hits like "Dream All Day" and "Golden Slumbers" or not.

The Posies Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Song #1
2. Open Every Window
3. Any Other Way
4. Lights Out
5. Grant Hart
6. Burn & Shine
7. Throwaway
8. I Guess You're Right
9. Compliment?
10. Fight It (If You Want)
11. Friendship Of The Future
12. No Consolation
13. Love Letter Boxes
14. What Little Remains
15. Fall Apart With Me
16. Coming Right Along
17. My Big Mouth
18. So Caroline
19. You Avoid Parties
20. Sad To Be Aware

Tracks 9 and 14 from Failure (1988)
Tracks 3, 17 and 19 from Dear 23 (1990)
Tracks 4, 6, 13 and 16 from Frosting On The Beater (1993)
Track 2 from DGC Rarities Vol. 1 (1994)
Tracks 1, 5, 7 and 10 from Amazing Disgrace (1996)
Track 20 from the "Please Return It" single (1996)
Tracks 11 and 15 from Success (1998)
Track 12 from Nice Cheekbones And A Ph.D EP (2001)
Track 8 from Every Kind Of Light (2005)
Track 18 from Blood/Candy (2010)

Aside from the new album on the way, The Posies have been on my mind lately because two members of the band have died in the past year. Darius Minwalla, who'd played drums for The Posies since 2001, died at a shockingly young age last May. And Joe Skyward, the band's bassist from 1994 to 1999 (who rejoined the Minwalla-era lineup for some shows in 2013 and 2014), died of cancer abotu a month ago. You can hear Skyward's work with the band here on tracks 1/5/6/10/11/15/20, and you can hear Minwalla on tracks 8 and 18.

The Posies occupied an unusual little niche in the alternative rock boom. Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow's self-recorded indie debut was jangly late '80s college rock with such a strong anglophile vibe that they sometimes sang with slight British accents. And they released their major label debut in 1990, before Seattle bands started getting signed just because they were from Seattle. So while Dear 23 was too soon to benefit from the Seattle boom, 1993's Frosting On The Beater came along a little late to fully capitalize on it. But in those 3 years of touring, they'd become a louder, heavier band, and the combination of Auer and Stringfellow's soaring vocal harmonies, Auer's guitar hero solos, Mike Musberger's thundering Keith Moon drums, and Don Fleming's noisy, blown out production sound made for one of the greatest power pop albums ever.

Auer and Stringfellow both joined the reunited lineup of Big Star in the '90s, and continued to do so until Alex Chilton's death in 2010, which really burnished The Posies' rep as torchbearers for the nebulous and never terribly fashionable 'power pop' label (and Stringfellow also logged a decade as a member of R.E.M.'s expanded touring lineup). The Posies had too much of a mainstream presence at their peak to be considered a lost gem like Big Star were at the time, but I always feel like they never get enough credit. The fact that they had the best vocal harmonies in '90s rock didn't matter because virtually no bands were even trying.

It was really hearing Posies songs on compilations that turned me onto the band more than their singles -- "Open Every Window" from DGC Rarities, as well as "Limitless Expressions" from Home Alive and the appearance of "Coming Right Along" from The Basketball Diaries were what made me pick up Amazing Disgrace and quickly become a huge fan of The Posies. But soon, the band got dropped from Geffen, recorded a 'farewell' indie album, and began working on other things (Jon Auer has one fine solo album and a few scattered other projects, but Stringfellow's been really prolific, with several great solo albums and as the leader of The Disciplines and Saltine and a few collaborative projects).

But The Posies never really stayed inactive for long -- Auer and Stringfellow started playing acoustic shows together just a couple years after breaking up the band, then recorded an EP together, and then got together a new rhythm section and began touring and making new albums. And I've been impressed at how the band's 21st century albums have kind of expanded the parameters of what a Posies record is, musically and lyrically -- there's a lot of weird, funny, interesting things that you wouldn't have heard on their earlier records, and what I've heard from Solid States so far continues that tradition. One note about the later records -- two songs from Every King Of Light were used as sample files for the Windows Vista OS, which really seemed to boost the profile of those songs. "I Guess You're Right," a great deep cut from a low-selling indie album, is the most played Posies song on Spotify, twice as popular as any of their '90s major label singles.

I really tried to represent the full range of The Posies with this mix -- the punky barnburners, the dark brooding rockers, the mopey ballads, the chipper pop songs. And I tried to balance out contributions from the band's two songwriters -- Auer/Stringfellow have a Lennon/McCartney approach in terms of joint songwriting credits and often helping each other finish songs and sing back up on each others' songs, but you can generally tell who wrote the bulk of a song based on who sings lead. On this mix, most of the odd-numbered tracks are Ken Stringfellow songs, and most of the even-numbered tracks are Jon Auer songs (with the exception of tracks 7 and 8, which are flipped the other way around).

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses

The Prince 100

Friday, April 22, 2016




























I'm still in total shock about Prince's death. When he was rushed to the hospital last week, I joked that I believed he would live to be 110 and be making amazing music in his nineties, but when he died I realized that I really meant it. Him dying at 57 is as surprising to me as if anyone else died at 27.

I contributed a paragraph to Third Bridge Creative's blog post about Prince today, along with about 20 other writers. But I still feel like rambling about him, because in terms of the combination of personal importance to me as a music fan and overall culture impact and the total shock of it happening, I don't know if any music death has hit me harder since, I don't know, Kurt Cobain when I was 12. But back then, my view of music was much smaller, so small in fact that I hadn't yet accepted the genius of Prince, who of course had a pretty rough '90s in terms of public image and commercial popularity.

But around 2000, after I'd become good friends with a Prince superfan, Mat Leffler-Schulman, he made me a mixtape that converted me, and it's been love ever since. I fell for the self-titled 1979 album, of all records, at first, and then of course the insane '80s catalog that I was too young to appreciate in real time (outside of loving his music in Batman without really knowing anything about who it was by). And then I started to find songs from beyond his peak period that I loved as well, underrated '90s albums like Come as well as occasional great deep cuts from his more sporadic 21st century output. And Mat has exposed me to a lot of amazing unreleased music and 12" extended mixes from his considerable collection that have made me understand the obsession of serious longtime Prince fans.

There was more Prince than any other artist on my wedding playlist (specifically, "She's Always In My Hair," "Forever In My Life," and "Adore"). And one of my most vivid memories from our honeymoon was walking around on a beach in Australia, watching an amazing sunset while listening to the incredible 12" extended mix of "I Would Die 4 U." But there are a dozen other memories like that of Prince becoming the soundtrack of my adult life, after I neglected him in my adolescence.

Last year, when Prince put (most of) his catalog on Tidal along with some new music, I made a deep album cuts playlist just to kind of skim the highlights of one of the richest discographies in popular music. But since easy access to Prince's classic albums one of the only things Tidal had over other streaming services that was motivating me to keep my Tidal subscription more than any fleeting Rihanna or Kanye exclusives, I had been using it for that purpose a lot and thinking about some kind of bigger playlist.

I hate the reason that I had to finally finish this playlist. The first thing I did after I heard the news was call Mat, and the second thing I did was listen to "Sometimes It Snows In April" and cry, seriously cry like I almost never have for any celebrity, but after that, listening to the music just made me feel good. There are only a handful of artists that I could even imagine being able to name 100 favorite songs by, and probably none who wrote and played nearly everything on most of those songs, probably none whose #100 would be as strong as the #100 on this. And it was fun to be able to have room for everything I could think of, from his debut single "Soft And Wet" to the last charting single of his lifetime, "1000 X's & O's," which I just wrote about 2 months ago. There are only 96 songs on the playlist, because a few aren't on Tidal (I'm so sorry, "Endorphinmachine"!), but for the most part it's all here.

My 100 Favorite Prince Songs (TIDAL playlist):

1. I Would Die 4 U
2. Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?
3. Little Red Corvette
4. Adore
5. She's Always In My Hair
6. Controversy
7. Sometimes It Snows In April
8. If I Was Your Girlfriend
9. 17 Days
10. Pop Life
11. I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
12. The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker
13. 1999
14. Mountains
15. Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)
16. The Morning Papers
17. Come
18. Bambi
19. Endorphinmachine
20. D.M.S.R.
21. Tamborine
22. The Beautiful Ones
23. Slow Love
24. Kiss
25. Let's Go Crazy
26. Another Lonely Christmas
27. I Wish U Heaven
28. Darling Nikki
29. Feel U Up
30. Money Don't Matter 2 Night
31. Nasty Girl (Vanity 6)
32. Do Me, Baby
33. When Doves Cry
34. Call My Name
35. How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore
36. Diamonds And Pearls
37. Soft And Wet
38. 1000 X's & O's
39. Erotic City
40. Jungle Love (The Time)
41. Strange Relationship
42. The Cross
43. Partyman
44. Uptown
45. Dark
46. Shockadelica
47. Breakfast Can Wait
48. Good Love
49. 7
50. Forever In My Life
51. Baltimore
52. Baby I'm A Star
53. The Screams Of Passion (The Family)
54. Black Sweat
55. Sign O' The Times
56. Slave
57. All The Critics Love U In New York
58. (There'll Never B) Another Like Me
59. Don't Play Me
60. Stare
61. My Name Is Prince
62. Cream
63. Letitgo
64. Thieves In The Temple
65. U Got The Look
66. Wow
67. Love Song (Madonna)
68. When We're Dancing Close And Slow
69. Gett Off
70. I Feel For You
71. Computer Blue
72. Trust
73. Starfish And Coffee
74. Private Joy
75. Another Boy (Bria Valente)
76. Loose!
77. I Wanna Be Your Lover
78. Play In The Sunshine
79. Raspberry Beret
80. New Position
81. I Wonder U
82. Purple Rain
83. Beautiful, Loved And Blessed
84. International Lover
85. Jack U Off
86. Round And Round (Tevin Campbell)
87. Anotherloverholenyohead
88. Sexy Dancer
89. Do It All Night
90. When You Were Mine
91. Love
92. I'm Yours
93. The Glamorous Life (Sheila E.)
94. Condition Of The Heart
95. Can't Stop This Feeling I Got
96. Partyup
97. Let's Work
98. Scarlet Pussy
99. It's Gonna Be Lonely
100. Take Me With U

Monthly Report: April 2016 Singles

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

























1. MNEK & Zara Larsson - "Never Forget You"
I heard this on pop radio for a while before I had any idea what it was or googled enough lyrics to see who it was by. I was actually kind of relieved that the male voice on the song wasn't Sam Smith, I didn't want to like something by him as much as I like this. As someone who always thinks songs could stand to be a few more BPMs faster than they are, I like that this basically sounds like a slightly sped up version of the pop hits that usually sound like this. Zara Larsson's other single "Lush Life" that's already big in Europe is good, too, hopefully that one gets a U.S. push. Here's the 2016 singles playlist I add songs to every month.

2. The 1975 - "The Sound"
The 1975 have made one of my favorite albums of the year, and it's selling well and they're playing huge festivals and have more or less broken through in America in a way that their debut didn't. But since the lead single "Love Me" was terrible and predictably stiffed at radio, I'm wondering if they'll ever actually become the kind of radio-friendly singles band they seem so well-suited to being. I love the current single, "The Sound," but so far it's just bubbled outside the top 20 on the Alternative charts, and pop radio hasn't picked it up much at all. There are a lot of potential singles on that record, though, hopefully they keep pushing more songs.

3. Ro James - "Permission"
Willie Hutch's "Brother's Gonna Work It Out" has been sampled memorably on everything from Dr. Dre's The Chronic and Chance The Rapper's Acid Rap to, inevitably, mutlipe tracks produced by Hutch aficionados DJ Paul and Juicy J. I think "Permission" is the first time it's popped up on a hit single. Apparently Ro James is the brother of Luke James, who's a pretty well known R&B singer (Grammy nominated, opened for Beyonce) but has never had a radio hit as big as "Permission."

4. Fantasia - "No Time For It"
Her last album Side Effects Of You was a minor classic so I'm ready for another Fantasia record. This one really hits her sweet spot of being kind of polished and adult contempo but also having a little bit of a bump to it.

5. Ariana Grande - "Dangerous Woman"
I loved Ariana Grande's first album, had mixed feelings about the very successful second album, and thought that the first advance single for her third album, "Focus," was a disaster. But after that song quickly tumbled down the charts, she went and kind of rebooted the album promotion with a very different track, "Dangerous Woman," that feels like a suitable course correction, and the other songs previewed from the new record are pretty promising. Plus she was a surprisingly great SNL host, so I'm really kinda rooting for her again.

6. Ellie Goulding - "Something In The Way You Move"
I don't think of myself as a big Ellie Goulding fan, but her last album was pretty strong, and I always seem to find myself really digging the half of her singles that don't go over really big on U.S. radio. This one just sounds massive, like it should've been even bigger than "On My Mind," but for whatever reason it wasn't. The verses always sound to me like there should be background vocals echoing each line, so I invariably end up singing them myself.

7. Kevin Gates - "2 Phones"
We're almost 1/3 of the way through 2016 already, and Islah is surprisingly the top-selling rap album of the year so far (mainly because Kanye wasn't initially selling his album and because Drake won't immediately take the title until the end of April, but still). I'm still rooting for "Really Really" to blow up, and it's now being set up as the follow-up to "2 Phones," but for the time being "2 Phones" has been the one really driving the album's success. Initially I didn't like how saccharine the beat is, but the hook is undeniable and the verses are easily some of the best rapping on the radio right now, I love that he hasn't simplified his flow at all for radio singles.

8. James Bay - "Let It Go"
James Bay is one of those young white guys in an old man hat singing in a silly "soulful" voice, the kind of thing that's perpetually on adult contempo radio and usually sucks. But man, this song really has just grown on me big time, it just works for me. And he deserves some respect for managing to have a hit called "Let It Go" so soon after Frozen.

9. Puff Daddy & The Family f/ Ty Dolla $ign and Gizzle - "You Could Be My Lover"
I really dug MMM and thought it didn't get enough credit, so I'm glad that Puff has continued to make videos and work this song to radio, the sumptuous Last Train To Paris-style R&B jams are really up my alley. When I first heard the song I thought that Gizzle was a dude spitting game at a woman, and didn't realize Gizzle was a woman until they released the video, which was kind of cool to see, it'd be nice if both this and The Internet's "Girl" got into heavy rotation on R&B radio talking about same sex relationships.

10. Bear Hands - "2AM"
Bear Hands is one of those bands who makes me cringe with their lyrics (their first alt-rock radio hit "Giants" had an ODB reference) but still makes pretty hooky songs. The chorus of "2AM" is based around a phrase coined in an episode of "How I Met Your Mother" (called "Nothing Good Happens After 2A.M.") and also paraphrases the Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting For My Man," which sounds stupid on paper, but I like it.

The Worst Single of the Month: Disturbed - "The Sound Of Silence"
I've always enjoyed ridiculous Disturbed singles like "Down With The Sickness," and really regard their cover of Genesis's "Land Of Confusion" as a classic. But this song just sounds hilarious, in a bad way, with David Draiman bleating it out over a string section, because there's no hard rock in the arrangement, only the vocal. But this song has had a funny little cultural resurgence lately between this cover on the charts and the Sad Affleck meme.