August 25th Singles: Taylor Swift, Miguel, Demi Lovato & more!

So, Summer ‘17 is essentially over. Whether you spent it at camp, or down in Argentina building houses or some type of “do-gooder” shit, or you just continued to slave away at your 9-5 with one less layer of clothing on like I did, I hope these last few months advanced your life forward in some type of positive way. But most importantly, of course, let’s hope Rick Ross’s entire posse got rich like he firmly suggested would be the case. ‘Cause ultimately, that’s what matters in life. Rick Ross’s posse.

Anyway, the end of summer means that the back-to-school music rush is upon us! These next couple months are gonna be as wonderful a time as ever to be a fan of stuff that involves notes, rhythms, melodies, singing, yelling, or anything that remotely resembles music.

With countless release dates stacking up, we began to see a lot of high-profile singles popping up this past week. So many, in fact, that I felt compelled to write about what I heard. For this article, I specifically went after all the A-list stuff. Sure, I could’ve talked about the new Arch Enemy song or whatever, but isn’t it more fun to talk about things that make people gobs of money? Like a Taylor Swift album cycle launch? No? Well, too bad.

Here’s a quick synopsis of a bunch of big-time singles that came out on or around this past Friday:

Sky Walker (feat. Travis Scott) – Miguel

BANGER ALERT! Wow. I’m not sure what floors me the most, how flawlessly Miguel crafted this more Hip-Hop influenced, Weeknd-ish ode to self-indulgence and bravado, or how well Travis Scott’s voice gels with his. Scott is like Miguel’s drug-soaked, auto-tuned sidekick – the two have so much chemistry, you’d think they’ve already done a whole album together (and hey, after hearing this, I’d probably want that to happen!) And this track, while smooth and swaggering as all hell, also has a bit of a goofy, tongue-in-cheek, wink-wink-nudge-nudge kind of thing going on, ‘cause after all, the ridiculous line “Luke Skywalkin’ on these haters!” is part of the refrain.

I don’t know when the next Miguel album is dropping, but whenever that is, I want an album full of THIS!

You Can’t Control It – Jack Johnson

 Listening to this infinitely soothing new single from Jack Johnson – a master of folky singer-songwriter pleasantries – I can practically feel my inner tension loosening. It’s almost like a massage (well, minus the part where you roll over and offer 60 bucks for a happy ending).

The third single from his forthcoming seventh album All the Light Above It Too, “You Can’t Control It” is not only pure calming pleasure sonically – featuring sweet, gentle guitar melodies married with Johnson’s reverb-drenched croon – but there’s something so freeing about hearing that phrase, “You Can’t Control It”. ‘Cause when you walk around feeling like everything is up to you, and everything is your responsibility, you apply this immense pressure to yourself that can be suffocating at times (for instance, I didn’t sleep a wink a couple nights ago because, well, I did just that). Perhaps this song is Johnson’s best cure for what he refers to here as “the war within your head; one that you could never win.”

Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift

As the Internet has already redundantly established, T. Swift’s first solo track in nearly three years is fucking terrible. Why have I – and thousands, if not millions of other irritated eardrums – come to this conclusion? Well, there’s a lot of reasons. I will outline three of them:

Reason 1: the unbearable corniness of the “Kanye West diss” that’s at the heart of it. “I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined”……oooo, no you didn’t Taylor! Or how about my personal favorite line, when Taylor defiantly chirps: “I got harder in the nick of time”? Hey, it’s always good to know that T. Swift can come through with some clutch erections down the stretch.

Reason 2: the obnoxious hook. Which, by the way, I was so busy being angry at it that I didn’t even pick up on the fact that it was an interpolation of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”. Shame on me. But it still sucks. And it’s about as likeable as Meaghan Trainor’s “Me Too”. Yeah, I went there.

Reason 3: worst of all, this song is attempting to be some sort of Dance-Pop. Meaning it might start getting played in bars….meaning after paying some bullshit cover charge, I might have to turn around and walk out on all of my friends if it comes on. Either that, or I’ll have to stay home for the next 15 months until the coast is clear.

But who knows, maybe the album will be decent. It’s still early.

You Already Know (feat. Nicki Minaj) – Fergie

After over four years of rumors and eleven total years of elapsed time since her solo debut, Fergie Ferg is finally dropping her sophomore LP Double Dutchess on September 22nd. One of its singles (“L.A. Love”) is three years old. Two more of them we already heard a while ago too. Can’t say I’ve got much going on in the anticipation department when it comes to this record.

Stylistically, Fergie’s been trying a lot of shit. I already gave my mixed two cents on her tropical house adventures on “Life Goes On”, and I think we can all agree that “M.I.L.F. $” (which will also appear on Double Dutchess) is a tasteless Hip-Pop attempt. As for “You Already Know”? It’s a little better, but not by much. It’s obviously crafted for high-energy dancefloor type situations, but Fergie’s obnoxious and completely overcooked rapping steps all over the beat. Nicki Minaj brings a bit of genuine lyrical finesse to offset it, but ever since the record-shattering horror that was Fergie’s “All of the Lights” appearance, I just can’t take her seriously when she tries to rap.

 Tell Me You Love Me – Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato is yet another A-lister ramping up for a late-September album release. “Tell Me You Love Me” is our second taste of her forthcoming sixth record of the same name, and I gotta say, this is one of my favorite Pop songs of the Summer.

I hate using the term “empowering” – in my mind, it often equates to corny Liberalspeak – but this track does have such an uplifting sound that it’s tough to squeeze in any other adjective. The instrumental during the chorus absolutely KNOCKS – those triumphant horns and the booming snare and bass are a hell of a combo. And lyrically, if you ask me, there’s something so sweet and so romantic about admitting to a (SMALL) degree of co-dependence – strong relationships are, after all, partially built on a mutual feeling of importance in each other’s lives, and that’s something Lovato captures beautifully here. Hopefully this one doesn’t get beaten to death by radio.

Pizza – Martin Garrix

Bookended by a sweeping cinematic build-up and comedown, the latest single from this Dutch EDM Wunderkind is a sunny, rapturous burst of energy. What I first saw as cheesy and cookie-cutter has evolved into a fun, simplistic escape and a slight guilty pleasure for me. Truth be told, this song breaks exactly ZERO ground as a stereotypical House track (don’t let the intro and outro distract you into thinking otherwise), but it continues to grow on me with repeated listens. Gonna be a great tune to soundtrack some end-of-summer hangouts.

Fergie’s “Life Goes On” Single

It’s now been a decade since Fergie Ferg’s fergalicious debut The Duchess had mainstream Pop radio in a strange hold. I remember it vividly – I was in 7th grade and still at the mercy of popular music (though to this day, whenever I decide to “socialize” and waste my hard-earned money at the shallow bar and club scene, I guess I still am). I was trying to attract girls and repel acne, but I of course did the opposite. And The Duchess, whether I liked it or not, was my soundtrack to that mess. In retrospect, “Glamorous” still holds up as a fantastic Pop single (shout out to Ludacris for ALWAYS playing his part flawlessly when he guests on Pop songs), and the rest of the record was obnoxious. But that’s neither here nor there.

Fergie’s back with another single, presumably from her rumored Double Duchess LP. I’ll give her a pass on that “M.I.L.F.$” single that she dropped earlier this year and give this one a fair shot.

Not so shockingly, “Life Goes On” benefits from glistening production. The intro pairs bouncy, plucked guitars with finger snaps, setting a lighthearted mood and giving Fergie’s vocals most of the spotlight. Then, for the chorus, she hops on that ever-so-crowded Tropical House train. I, for one, love the Tropical House beat, but isn’t this the wrong season? I’m not sure people are looking for this type of sound heading into heart of winter. But hey, I could be wrong.

Here’s the thing about Fergie –she is actually a legitimately great singer, and people tend to forget that, ‘cause she had a prominent role in a song called “My Humps”, which will go down as one of the worst songs in the history of mankind (just figured I’d gently remind you that that song exists– don’t worry, I repress the memories too). But “Life Goes On” gives her room to showcase her talents – she uses her pipes to put forth this blissful apathy that’s wrapped up in the lyrics. “Who cares anyway?” she sings. Ferg’s warning us not to overthink things or run ourselves in the ground with stress, because life’s gonna keep moving regardless. ““In the midst of all the madness/remember life’s beautiful”, she reminds us in the second verse.

Unfortunately, “Life Goes On” provides us with a sizable intermission from the whole Fergie The Singer thing, and Fergie the (Apparently) Rapper shows up. I guess instead of getting an A-lister to interject and spit a few horribly dumbed-down bars (a la Kendrick Lamar on Maroon 5’s “Don’t Wanna Know”) Fergie has chosen to be a utility player. And how could we forget her magical appearance on Kanye’s “All of the Lights”, one of the worst four bars Hip-Hop has ever seen – seriously, some people STILL don’t realize that’s even her!

Joking aside, her verse here isn’t actually that terrible. “Speed your loyalty up like Bugatti”? Ok that blows, but I can tolerate the rapping because the rest of the song is pretty decent. Kinda fluffy, but decent. Keep in mind, I’ve been unable to escape The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” for three months now, so my standards have gotten low as fuck.

But I wouldn’t mind one bit if “Life Goes On” takes off as a single. It’s passable, and I’m totally gonna give Double Duchess a chance. Especially since Fergie is secretly a Rock singer and appeared on Slash’s self-titled record back in 2010.

OH, and I swear at 1:25 she randomly ad-libs “TWO CHAINNZZZZ”. But the more likely scenario is that my feeble mind is slowly deteriorating. 🙂