Monthly Report: June 2018 Singles

1. Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa - "One Kiss"  
I never really thought much of Calvin Harris's Funk Wav Bounces era of making midtempo retro R&B tracks with hip rappers, so I'm kind of fine with him already retreating back to making house jams with other white people, especially since Dua Lipa is one of my favorite new pop singers in recent memory and this is a really nice track for her to get out between albums. Also there was a really funny blind item that indicated that Dua Lipa pegged Calvin Harris immediately after they made this song. Here's the 2018 singles playlist I update every month. 

2. 2 Chainz f/ YG and Offset - "Proud" 
A lot of artists these days, especially rappers, release little 4-song EPs these days as stopgap projects to build buzz or test out a single, and a lot of those records feel kind of disposable and forgettable. But The Play Don't Care Who Makes It was really a good one, and it speaks volumes that when it dropped in February I kind of ignored "Proud" because I was so into "Lamborghini Truck (Atlanta Shit)" and "Land of the Freaks." But the "Proud" video was fantastic and the song deserved a better run on the radio than it got. 

3. Jukebox The Ghost - "Everybody's Lonely" 
My first exposure to Jukebox The Ghost was a few years ago when they worked with my friends at Mobtown Studios and I wrote the text for the page on their website about it. And they seemed to be pretty talented and moving up in the world then, but I was still surprised one day to hear a great song on the radio, google the lyrics, and realize it was them. I love that little piano breakdown at the end where the song quiets down and then builds back up again. 

4. Kiiara - "Messy" 
Kiara Sualters and her pretentious extra i had the only really big solo hit, "Gold," about 2 years ago, and she's released a lot of singles since then. But "Messy" is the latest that I checked out on a whim and really quickly fell in love with. It really does a good job of conjuring this emotional story in a few words, reminiscent of Aimee Mann's "Deathly," putting you in the moment where a relationship is about to get real and someone says wait, we can still just stop and never see each other agian. 

5. Guns N' Roses - "Shadow Of Your Love" 
It's always interesting to see one of the biggest rock bands ever release an old old obscurity from their archives and kind of hear something new from their classic era on the radio -- Led Zeppelin's "Travelling Riverside Blues," Nirvana's "You Know You're Right," Pearl Jam's "Brother," and now this newly unearthed 1987 GnR outtake. "Shadow Of Your Love" would have been the shortest song on Appetite For Destruction had it onto the original album, and it also would've been pretty much the fastest, so it's an interesting vestige of the band's punkier side, the road not taken, and it's pretty awesome. 

6. Carly Pearce "Hide The Wine"
Carly Pearce's "Every Little Thing," won Breakthrough Video of the Year at the CMT Awards last week, which underscored the fact that country radio has kind of slept on her follow-up single, which is really charming and kind of an apt counterpoint to her big ballad hit. 

7. Maroon 5 - "Wait"
This song has really grown on me as a kind of relatively understated gem of Maroon 5's era of chasing big trendy pop sounds, I feel like if anyone else recorded it people would more readily admit how good it is. 

8. Lauv - "I Like Me Better" 
There are so many songs on pop radio these days that are like douchey fratty post-Maroon 5 Top 40 versions of R&B songs that I tend to dismiss a lot of them initially and figure out later if they're good. Bazzi's "Mine" gets worse every time I hear it, but Lauv's "I Like Me Better" gets better every time I hear it. Plus I have some affection for him since learning he co-wrote "No Promises" by Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato. His album, the obnoxiously titled I met you when I was 18. (the playlist) is pretty decent, although nothing else jumps out at me like "I Like Me Better." 

9. Cardi B - "Be Careful" 
When this song first dropped in the run-up to Invasion of Privacy, I wasn't sure about it, and even now that it's doing well on the radio, a lot of stations are eager to play the more clubby album tracks "I Like It" or "Bickenhead" just as often. But "Be Careful" has really grown on me, it hits these really specific emotional notes really well and the fact that someone who you usually hear funny and full of bravado is softening her voice to say these words works really well. 

10. Jack White - "Over And Over And Over"  
I was never really on board with The White Stripes and had the weird opinion that the ugly lurching "Icky Thump" was the best thing they ever did. So I haven't followed much of Jack White's solo career but I'm pleased to hear that he has at least one song that kind of has a similar sound to it, but even faster and more counterintuitive in some ways. 

The Worst Single of the Month: Childish Gambino - "This Is America"
My line on Donald Glover has long been that he makes nothing but exceptional television and mediocre music. But even I will admit that he's at least gained a little musical sophistication since the early days when he was doing this off-putting hyperactive "30 Rock" writer's room version of Lil Wayne punchlines. I always figured he'd return to rapping eventually after the success of "Redbone," and in some ways "This Is America" is his way of showing restraint as a writer and focusing on flow, except the kind of bland less-is-more lyrics feel like a cheat to just be as ambiguous as possible and shift all the significance to the video, which did all the heavy lifting in the song's viral ascent to #1. So it's not surprising that Glover's panache for visual storytelling exceeds his musical grasp, but it's still just shocking how much worse this song is without the video, and I get so annoyed every time I hear it on the radio.
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