Monthly Report: March 2023 Singles

1. Sam Smith - "I'm Not Here To Make Friends"
I can very clearly remember 15 years ago when I saw Rich Juzwiak's supercut of people on various reality shows using the phrase that was not yet a TV cliche but absolutely is now: "I'm not here to make friends." Turning that catchphrase into a pop song could be as tacky as "Big Energy" depending on the execution, but I like that Sam Smith decided to purr "I'm not here to make friends -- I need a lover" over a disco track, it's a pretty good little twist. Here's the 2023 singles Spotify playlist I add new songs to every month. 

2. Coi Leray - "Players"
Speaking of "Big Energy," the success of Latto's song really seems to have opened up the floodgates for people to once again do big obvious Bad Boy-style samples of songs that were already sampled during the original Bad Boy era. So I rolled my eyes when Coi Leray previewed a snippet sampling "The Message." But the full song has grown on me quickly, I think it's one of those situations where this song exists because of "Big Energy" but it's still substantially better than it. And even though the Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five original is sort of ground zero for socially conscious hip hop and one of the genre's crown jewels, that beat is so dynamic and funky that I feel like it's kind of appropriate that it's been turned into lighter club fare several times now by Ice Cube, Puffy, and now Benzino's weirdo daughter. That "bout to catch another flight" pre-chorus vocal melody is so sick. 

3. Parker McCollum - "Handle On You"
The first verse of "Handle On You" opens with a great line ("I went and bought the biggest bottle they got 'cause you're gone") and then the opener of the second verse is even better ("I tell myself that I should quit but I don't listen to drunks"). Heartbreak and alcoholism make good country songs, especially together, and I almost wish George Jones was around to record this one. 

4. India Shawn - "Exchange"
"Exchange" was one of my favorite D'Mile-produced tracks on last year's Before We Go (Deeper), glad it became India Shawn's first single to make a dent on the R&B carts. 

5. Alex Vaughn - "So Be It"
Alex Vaughn is another young R&B singer with her first radio hit on the charts that I'm really rooting for, especially because she's from Prince George's County, Maryland, which is where I live, "So Be It" is a great dramatic slow jam. 

6. Linkin Park - "Lost"
I always liked a bunch of Linkin Park songs, but Chester Bennington's death made me reconsider how I held the emotion in those songs at arm's length, that I just enjoyed their nu-metal angst as an abstract aesthetic experience. But now I think about how Bennington really was suffering when I hear those songs and it's a bit more intense. Meteora is the band's best album and the one that they seemed to work on the hardest, reputedly writing 80 songs and mixing the final album over and over to get the sound right. So it makes sense that the first posthumous hit for the band since Bennington's death is a 2003 demo from an upcoming 20th anniversary edition of Meteora. I can see why "Lost" didn't make the album since it and "Numb" both being on there might feel a little redundant, but it's a good song, I'm glad it finally saw the light of day. 

7. Young Dolph - "Love For The Streets"
I loved Young Dolph's posthumous album Paper Route Frank and have been generally annoyed by the relative lack of attention that Dolph's music has gotten after his death, he deserves a lot more love. I'm happy that the album's opening track has started to get some spins, that beat is incredible. Dolph does a weird intro on the song talking about he had sex at 7 years old, which is the kind of thing that a disturbing number of different rappers have claimed on songs. 

8. Toby Keith - "Oklahoma Breakdown"
Toby Keith is one of the few country stars who had great singles in the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s, but his ability to make a hit really dried up some years ago. So I'm really impressed by "Oklahoma Breakdown," probably his most memorable single since "Beers Ago," makes great use of his voice. 

9. Zach Bryan f/ Maggie Rogers - "Dawns"
Zach Bryan released such an absurd amount of music in 2022 that I almost wanted him to just chill for a while. But then his first release of 2023 was a great collaboration with another artist I really like, which also became Maggie Rogers's highest charting song to date, feels a little different from both artists' solo stuff in a good way. 

10. Tiesto f/ Tate McRae - "10:35"
Tiesto has been a massive star in the EDM world for decades without doing a whole lot of collaborations with pop singers to cater to Top 40 radio like Marshmello or Zedd or whatever. But he's started to move in that direction lately and I really like is recent singles with Tate McRae and Charli XCX. 

The Worst Single of the Month: Lonnie - "One Night Stand"
When this song starts, I think about how it epitomizes everything I hate about whiny, bored-sounding rap singers like Post Malone and The Kid Laroi. And then the chorus hits and it's a baffling interpolation of "Lovefool" by The Cardigans, and it just gets so much worse than I imagined it could. 
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