Monthly Report: August 2017 Singles

1. SZA f/ Travis Scott - "Love Galore"
I have mixed feelings about the SZA album, and am generally baffled by the public's embrace of Travis Scott as a major star. But this song really came together nicely, great vocal melody and great wobbly synth sound. That little coda on the album version really feels extraneous now that I'm accustomed to the radio edit, though. Here's the 2017 singles playlist I update every month.

2. Dua Lipa - "New Rules"
Dua Lipa's album is one of my favorite of the last few months, but I didn't initially peg "New Rules" as a standout until they released really a memorable, creatively choreographed video for the song. It's hard to make a song out of itemized instructions without feeling like a retread of "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" (or "Ten Crack Commandments"), but this one puts its own twist on the format. It's already her biggest UK hit and it's starting to rise up the US charts.

3. 2 Chainz f/ Trey Songz, Jhene Aiko and Ty Dolla $ign - "It's A Vibe"
I was initially skeptical of this song, just because of the general overuse of the word "vibe" these days, and rap tracks with 3 guest singers like "Jam" by Kevin Gates tend to seem like a desperate stab at a radio song. But this really grew me, particularly because of how good the one 2 Chainz verse is ("gas in a Ziploc, now that's loud and clear"), and how utterly relaxed it feels compared to everything else on the radio, and it kind of epitomizes the whole idea and aesthetic of the Pretty Girls Like Trap Music project.

4. Zedd f/ Liam Payne - "Get Low"
Every member of One Direction has now had a US top 40 hit, but with Harry's album pointedly not playing the radio game and Zayn between albums, there's been an unlikely race between two lower profile members to have the biggest hit of the summer. I absolutely adore Niall's "Slow Hands" and detest Liam's "Strip That Down," and my mood on any given week is partly determined by which one of those songs is doing better on the charts.

5. Jon Pardi - "Heartache On The Dancefloor"
PardiNextDoor is 3 for 3 with singles off this album, one of the best people on country radio these days, manages to merge traditionalist sounds with something snappy and immediate in a way that nobody else is really doing.

6. Bruno Mars - "Versace On The Floor"
"That's What I Like" was #1 on R&B radio for 12 weeks (compared to only 3 weeks on pop radio), which kinda makes me wonder where Bruno goes from here. Is he going to stick with this sound and be more embraced by R&B audiences for the rest of his career or will he remain a big tent pop star? "Versace On The Floor" as a follow up single certainly doesn't seem destined to do very well outside R&B radio. The one time I've heard it on a pop station so far, they played the David Guetta remix, which was funny since it's not really terribly different, just kinda feels like it's mining a slightly different vein of retro cheese. But it does kind of resemble The Weeknd's "I Feel It Coming," which probably helps it.

7. Kendrick Lamar f/ Rihanna - "Loyalty"
DAMN. is a very good album, but I still think Kendrick is a pretty spotty singles artist, and that "Humble" and "DNA" are two of my least favorite songs on the record, so hearing this song on the radio suits me a lot more.

8. Migos f/ Gucci Mane "Slippery"
I didn't include "Slippery" on my recent Takeoff playlist, since I was emphasizing songs where Takeoff does the hook or first verse. But his verse on this really is great, and I love the editing of Gucci's "I don't promote violence" going straight into Takeoff's "Deadshot, AK make your head rock."

9. Bryson Tiller - "Somethin Tells Me"
Trapsoul was one of the biggest debut albums in R&B in recent memory, and it seemed like he had a lot of momentum carrying into his new album, which debuted at #1, and he's also on that giant DJ Khaled/Rihanna record. So it surprised me that True To Self's lead single totally stiffed at R&B radio. And it's kind of a shame, I panned the album, but this song really grew on me.

10. Ayo & Teo - "Rolex"
My older son is 7, so he's starting to actively have his own taste in music, and in 2017, what that means is invariably a lot of viral dance rap songs. I remember one day he asked to listen to "Hit The Quan" and I was like "I wrote a thinkpiece about this song, y'know." Lately "Rolex" has been his favorite, which I didn't like at all at first, but it's grown on me. Also, it always makes me laugh thinking about this tweet. It's a shame everybody made Meek Mill self conscious about rapping about Rolexes, it would've been fun to hear him on a remix of this.

Worst Single of the Month: The Weeknd - "Reminder"
I already quoted this awful song at length last year, but hearing it on the radio lately really brought back just how awful it is. I'm really flummoxed at how this is up for several awards, including Video of the Year, at the VMA's, it's a pretty but bland "celebrity cameos in slow motion" video for the underperforming 4th single from an album.
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