Monthly Report: August 2015 Singles
1. K Camp - "Comfortable"
K Camp has always had an ear for a tuneful hook -- in fact the first time I heard him, on Mykko Montana's minor hit "Do It" about 3 years ago, all he did was the hook (hilariously, the Singles Jukebox post on the song that I contributed to features the comment "Incredible Feedback!" signed by K Camp himself). Since then, he's quietly racked up a decent number of solo hits (plus Snootie Wild's "Made Me," another song where he only does the hook), and finally has a major label album dropping, but I haven't really thought much of his stuff since "Do It." But "Comfortable" is just a revelation, one of those songs we get every once in a while (well, once a year for the last 15 years or so) where a rapper goes full-on R&B and the melody in their voice is disarming and beautiful. Big Fruit made an incredibly summery track with some surprising changeups in the beat, and I'm really immature so I'm always amused anytime Big Fruit gets a production credit on anything. Here's the Spotify playlist of favorite 2015 singles that I add to every month.
2. Demi Lovato - "Cool For The Summer"
Last week I did a little overview of Demi Lovato's brief career so far since this song has been blowing up and getting people more interested in her otherwise underrated music. I have mixed feelings about "Cool For The Summer" itself, though, it's such a big bombastic Max Martin production with all these distinct parts, sometimes it feels like too much, sometimes it hits just perfectly.
3. Sam Hunt - "House Party"
Sam Hunt is a good punching bag for bro country in general, a guy who you're more likely to see in a baseball cap than a cowboy hat, and I hatefully compared his big hit "Take Your Time" to Drake a few months ago. But this song, for all its embarrassing DJ scratching, is a winner with me. One of the things about unabashed crossover artists is that occasionally they do write a song that seems so broadly appealing that it's easy to imagine it being a hit in any radio format, if it was mixed a little different or covered by a boy band, an R&B singer, an alt-rock band, whatever.
4. Thomas Rhett - "Crash And Burn"
I'd dismissed Thomas Rhett before the 5th single from his debut, "Make Me Wanna," became one of my favorite country hits in recent memory, and I feel hopeful that that song set the tone for his second record. The lead single is a little goofy and the video features Rhetto ghost riding the goddamn whip, but musically it's still a step in the right direction.
5. Tyrese - "Shame"
One thing that I think has kind of been lost in today's pop landscape is studio backup singers -- the few stars, R&B or otherwise, that are good enough do a lot of their own backing harmonies, and sometimes have backup singers onstage to sing those parts live, but you rarely get a lead vocalist interacting with backing voices that are clearly not just them multi-tracked anymore. And the women singing backup on this song just put this perfect, spine-tingling dramatic touch on the song that serves as a good foil for Tyrese's velvety rasp. Ever since one of Tyrese's first videos went into rotation on MTV while Tyrese was a VJ, his music career has seemed like a big weird mirage to me. So him gradually becoming a steady R&B radio presence and kind of one of the last surviving traditionalists was surprising, but he's got some jams.
6. Ciara - "Dance Like We're Makin' Love"
I put this song on my Ciara deep cuts playlist, and it was bound to happen eventually that a song I put on one of those things would get released as a single soon after (I replaced it with "Give Me Love" on the playlist). I'm really glad it's a single, though, definitely makes a great case for the Ciara/Dr. Luke collaboration that Future got a lot of attention for turning his nose up at recently. Of course, putting out this single at this particular time with a sexy video takes on a weird overtone given Ciara's celibate relationship with Russell Wilson. It kinda takes the song's gist of "let's dance before making love" and makes it seem more like "let's dance instead of making love."
7. Meek Mill f/ Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown - "All Eyes On You"
Meek Mill is one of my favorite rappers of the last decade, and Drake is someone I barely tolerate, so it goes without saying that the past month has been a bummer for me. I still stand by pretty much everything I said in the Noisey piece I published when Dreams Worth More Than Money came out, him handling that beef poorly doesn't really effect my enjoyment of his music. One thing I in that piece that I will walk back a little is calling this song "boring" -- certainly singles like "Monster" and "Check" are more classic Meek Mill and this song is kind of a transparent bid for radio play, but it's really grown on me. Doing the "Notorious Thugs" flow over a slow jam was inspired, and out of all the hits featuring Chris Brown these days, this is one of the only ones where he actually adds something to the song and makes it better instead of just kind of showing up and making a cameo so that radio will play it.
8. The Struts - "Could Have Been Me"
There are a ton of British bands on American rock radio these days, and most of them get sent over here after they've already gotten huge at home. But it appears this band isn't popular in the U.K. at all, even compared to the moderate U.S. airplay they've gotten, which is surprising since this is a super British glam rock anthem with a scenery-chewing lead singer who rolls his R's.
9. Tori Kelly - "Should've Been Us"
Odd trivia: this song is produced by a team called The Struts, but it's not the band I was just talking about. After "Nobody Love" blew me away but fizzled on pop radio, it's nice that the follow-up single is doing better and the album even did decent numbers. Part of the chorus reminds me a lot of the unjustly forgotten Kelly Rowland single "Can't Nobody," which isn't a bad thing.
10. Tiffany Evans f/ Fetty Wap - "On Sight"
After having one minor hit ages ago, Tiffany Evans came out with a freebie EP a couple years ago that I really enjoyed, and then disappeared again. Now she's got a buzzing single buoyed by one of the big rappers of the moment, and I hope she's able to get a foot back in the industry again. I've kind of liked but not loved a lot of the songs Fetty Wap has had out since "Trap Queen," but I really dig his verse on this, he has this weird double-tracked vocal sound that I haven't heard him use on anything else that gives a different dimension to his voice. Also interesting that Yeezus is now being mined for hook ideas for singles.
Worst Single of the Month: Fall Out Boy - "Uma Thurman"
I really need to revisit American Beauty/American Psycho and reignite my fondness for it, because I really like that album, and my least favorite song on it becoming a hit is really bumming me out and souring me on the band right now. This is the worst thing Uma Thurman has been associated with in a year that included "The Slap."