Good news: The Daily Utah Chronicle now has its own Spotify which we will update periodically with playlists and music recommendations. To kick things off, check out this playlist of some of our favorite songs from the past few months. Warning: some of these songs contain explicit language.
“Any Other Way”
Over quietly-strumming guitars, the Louisville-based singer-songwriter Tomberlin finds beauty in simplicity. Tomberlin is a sharp, subtle songwriter. With just a few chords and some meandering free verse, she creates a song that hovers between gorgeous and haunting. In some ways, “Any Other Way” feels like a hymn, which makes sense — Tomberlin grew up in a religious household and her music often ruminates on spirituality and doubt.
Self-consciously “quirky” vocal performances are a dime a dozen in today’s pop music landscape, but Reyez takes vocal affectation to a whole new level. Her style is conversational and chameleon-like — she sounds like SZA’s chatty cousin who took one too many musical theatre classes, which is absolutely a compliment. Her elastic phrasing touches on soul, hip-hop and jazz, but as a complete package, Reyez is an infectious anomaly.
Nicki Minaj has spent the better part of this year making herself as unlikable as possible, which is a real shame when she’s still capable of making catchy songs like “Barbie Dreams.” A feminist (or perhaps just misandrist) twist on The Notorious B.I.G.’s song “Just Playing (Dreams),” Minaj wastes no time in dissing a significant roster of famous men – Rae Sremmurd, 50 Cent, Quavo, Bow Wow, Fetty Wap, Drake, Meek Mill, Lil Uzi Vert and Young Thug are mentioned in just the first verse. In rhymes that oscillate between playful and eviscerating, Minaj mocks their sex life, financial status and apparent interest in her. It’s a compelling tabloid drama and a potent reminder of Minaj’s power as hip-hop’s filthiest insult comic.
“Bite the Hand”
Boygenius – a supergroup made up of Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker — are here to make a certain subset of indie rock nerds’ dreams come true. All three women have distinguished solo careers and a shared penchant for gorgeous melodies and heartbreakingly raw lyrics. In “Bite the Hand,” Dacus, Bridgers and Baker find natural chemistry in a song that shrewdly marries all of their best instincts.
Did you know Charlie Puth is a good musician now? I’m as shocked as anyone. His early singles were truly abysmal, but his new album “Voicenotes,” released in June, is the year’s most pleasant surprise. With 13 tracks, Puth synthesizes decades of pop music history — soft rock from the 70s, synthpop from the 80s, R&B from the 90s and hip-hop from the 2000s — into neat little packages. On the dangerously catchy track “BOY,” Puth spurns an older lover who rejects him for his age. It’s the anthem self-defensive millennials didn’t know they needed.
Christine and the Queens
This percussive, infectious track from experimental pop singer Héloïse Létissier touches on sexuality, gender politics, suicide and the existence of God. Oh, and you can dance to it.
Any song from Mitski’s excellent new album “Be the Cowboy” would be a worthy candidate for this playlist, but “Geyser” feels particularly essential. The song is structurally brilliant — notice how the intensity quietly builds, never pausing for a chorus, until the tension explodes like, well, a geyser. The lyrics seem to describe a blossoming romance, but the music is far too ominous to be classified as a love song. In Mitski’s world, romance feels suspiciously close to surrender.
“God Is A Woman”
Ariana Grande’s much-anticipated album “Sweetener” contains a few clunkers and more than a few gems, but nothing topped this generational update on “Like A Prayer” by Madonna. Over a production that’s more trap than gospel, Grande is perfectly at ease, elevating a potentially hokey premise into a genuine religious experience. Like all of the best Grande singles, this one gives her room to play without a shoehorned rap verse or hokey production tricks. By the end, when Grande forms a one-woman gospel choir, us mere mortals would be foolish to question her talent.
SOPHIE, the avant-garde producer who released her first full-length album earlier this summer, might be the most important artist working in music today. That’s a bold assertion, but there are very few creators as formally inventive and forward looking. In “Immaterial,” SOPHIE manipulates bubblegum pop that sounds synthetic to the point of surrealism. Her music is a shiny surface that could violently crack at any moment and this tension makes for a viscerally thrilling listening experience.
Pop’s resident indie darling makes music that imagines the dance floor as a space of catharsis, pairing quietly devastating lyrics with bright, bouncy synthpop. “Missing U,” Robyn’s first solo single in eight years, does not radically reinvent this formula, but the results remain startlingly effective. Robyn sings of heartbreak with vital clarity: “There’s this empty space you left behind/ Now you’re not here with me/ I keep digging through our waste of time/ But the picture’s incomplete.” It shimmers and floats to outer space and back again, providing comfort but never resolution.
Charli XCX has made a career of being consistently great and perpetually underrated, so of course she made a perfect summer song that was promptly ignored by everyone besides superfans. Sure, “No Angel” isn’t particularly deep, but it’s expertly crafted and the song’s sputtering synth line is guaranteed to lodge in your head for weeks to come.
Travis Scott featuring Big Hawk, Swae Lee and Drake
Nobody tell Nicki Minaj. The most popular song from Travis Scott’s immensely popular “Astroworld,” “SICKO MODE” is hip-hop as a Twitter feed, shoving samples, guest verses and ad-libs into one kinetic package. Like “In My Feelings,” another Drake megahit, “SICKO MODE” feels like five great songs in one. Before you have the chance to get bored, something else is ready to grab you.