Have there been a whole lot of good songs released in the past few weeks?
There have not.
After posting my playlist of the best tracks from the first half of 2019, I was fired up to see what July had to offer so far. But July, it was not fired up for me.
The biggest trend in pop is for young entertainers to ride the coattails of even younger entertainers. So 25-year-old Justin Bieber hops on a remix of 17-year-old Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” while 20-year-old Lil Nas X’s latest (but not last) “Old Town Road” iteration brings in 12-year-old Mason Ramsey. Ramsey will no doubt soon be cashing in on borrowed shine from a famous toddler, who will in turn collaborate with a celebrity fetus.
All that aside, though, the songs are always out there if you listen hard enough. And after a heroic amount of exertion, here are six excellent cuts that I heard.
Rosalía – “Milionária”
On the perkier of the two tracks compiled as Fucking Money Man (and the one that includes that ambiguously expressed title in its chorus), the Spanish star is back in her flamenco-pop groove. We’ve got enough pop millionaires sighing about their monied woes and just-got-paid youth overestimating their net worth already. Rosalía has more tangible desires: She wants a pair of leopards, of course, but she also wants to shut down the mall and eat ice cream while a specially hired hand unwraps her Xmas presents, and to that I say: Who amongst us, etc.?
Sun-El Musician x Ami Faku – “Into Ingawe”
The South African producer Sun-El specializes in uncommonly melodic mid-tempo house tracks. (Let’s hear it for 2017’s “Akanamali.”) He also expertly scouts out vocalists who match the insinuating effortlessness of his aesthetic: Faku’s whispery, crannied, Xosa vocals don’t so much break into the chorus as elevate there with friction-free ease. “This song will make u miss the place that u dnt even know (which doesnt exist),” a YouTube commenter says, and if I don’t really know what he’s talking about, I think I know what he means.
CupcakKe – “Ayesha”
I prefer CupcakKe’s comic-porn mode to her fuck-the-haters screeds, but “Yeah your eyelashes mink/But your vagina stink/Bitch go clean off your sink” is damn good. What’s Ayesha Curry got to do with all this? Dunno but her name makes for a killer chorus hook.
Cheekface – "’Listen to Your Heart.’ ‘No.’"
Inadvertently capitalizing on the new, widespread love for Cheekface over here in the CP offices (let me put in another good word for Therapy Island), the L.A. band releases a new track centered on a lyric as true as it is clever: “Just because it's funny doesn't make it a joke.”
Yuna ft. Jay Park – “Does She”
“Forevermore,” the lead single from this perpetually promising Malaysian singer’s new album, Rouge, was slightly too pleasantly gossamer, like much of the full-length itself. Her third and most recent single, “Pink Youth,” fritters away a collab with the great U.K. rapper Little Simz on uplifting generalities. (In between came “Blank Marquee,” with G-Eazy, because that’s just how life is sometimes.) But the keeper is this percolating and casually devastating post-breakup duet with the Korean-American singer Park, “Does she want you like I want you?” Yuna asks. “You know she wants me like you want me,” Park responds. What a jerk.
Lakes – “Reindeer”
Ian Cohen on Twitter: “Listening to UK emo is cool because you get a glimpse into a world where Los Campesinos! is the most influential indie rock band of the past 12 years.” A nice place to visit, as the saying goes.
Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2019 playlist.