Well Strangers, it’s almost the end of May, which means it’s time to talk about my favorite music releases from throughout the month. May was another month of excellent music and I’ve been eager to talk about each and every one of them. The only release I will not be discussing today is Paramore’s After Laughter since I already reviewed it. And so, here are the songs that were my soundtrack for May.
- “Dead” by Madison Beer- This song is very pop-meets-R&B. Madison sings like a young(er) JoJo, her voice gracing the track with ease. The song is about a disappointing ex who has come back into her life, begging for another chance. Madison rejects him with a clever twist on an old turn-of-phrase, saying, “If you say you can’t live without me, why aren’t you dead yet?” It’s savage in a strangely elegant way.
- “Slow Hands” by Niall Horan- If you had made me guess which One Direction alum would release a song I love, I would never have guessed Niall. And yet, here we are. He looks like if Rupert Grint and Ed Sheeran had a baby and his music is like if Ed Sheeran and John Mayer had a baby. It’s a little bit earnest and a little bit sexy. And you can’t un-convince me that this is a response song to Demi Lovato’s “Body Say.” Niall has harbored a long-time crush on her and there are too many lyrical parallels (not the least of which, the phrase “slow hands”) for it to be just coincidence.
- “I’m Not Famous” by AJR- If you’ve listened to any music in the last ten years, you know that there are countless songs bragging about being famous. Well, this one is bragging about not being famous. The band celebrates that nobody knows who they are and that the paparazzi doesn’t care about them. They even have the great plot twist of a line, “Where my haters?/ I don’t got ‘em./ I’m not famous.” It’s goofy and silly, a real breath of fresh air among so many brag tracks. It’s the Millennial attitude at its finest.
- “Eyes Closed” by Halsey- In the next release from hopeless fountain kingdom, Halsey laments the loss of an ex. She wishes the man she is with now were him. This is her poppy-est release to date, serving as a heartfelt power ballad.
- “Aftergold” by Big Wild featuring Tove Styrke- This is a great dance track with a lot of Indian influence. At first listen, it’s a song about wanting lots of money and a lavish life. Upon closer inspection, you realize Tove is actually saying it’s not worth it. While I don’t share that sentiment (being in the position of not having a lot of money), this song is still a bop. And, in a way, it expresses that, even if wealth beyond your wildest imagination isn’t good for you, you still can’t help but dream of it. In that way, this song is this year’s “Royals.”
- “Heaven” by PVRIS- PVRIS returns with an epic jam of woe, guitars and drums dominating the tune. The vocals soar and screech, filled with pain. With the decline of genuine rock music in the last few years, this anthem is a welcome break. It promises another great album from the band.
- “Over You” by Rotana- If I were a stripper, this would be my signature song. While the song is about not being able to get over an ex, it is worded in such a clever way where every line implies something else. It’s a sensual vulnerability that makes for a great track.
- “Bout You” by VÉRITÉ– VÉRITÉ became a fast favorite when she released a cover of “Somebody Else” by The 1975 (which I, at the time, did not know was a cover). Since then, I have loved everything she’s released and this song is no exception. This song is about a relationship heading toward its inevitable end. The medium speed emphasizes the reluctance to both continue the relationship and to let it go. It has beautiful lyrics and VÉRITÉ’s delicate vocals provide just the right amount of vulnerability. I can’t wait to hear what the rest of the album sounds like.
- “Strangers” by Halsey featuring Lauren Jauregi- At long last, we receive the F/F song from Halsey we’ve been waiting for. And, holy hell, it’s a duet. As sexy and emotional as it is, it is not a love song. It’s a tension-filled jam between two exes who want different things out of the relationship. It’s one of Halsey’s best songs to date and definitely the best song released off hopeless fountain kingdom so far.
- “ Cannonball” by ZZ Ward featuring Fantastic Negrito- The song marks ZZ Ward’s true comeback, the second single from her first album since her 2012 debut. It is bluesy, telling the story of a messy, toxic relationship. Ward’s vocals soar and whine over the music, fitting with the genre. But what really amps up the bluesy-ness of this song is Fantastic Negrito with his deep, rough growl of a voice. The bridge is a killer instrumental, a harmonica and electric guitar in a battle of epic sound. This song deserves to be big.
- “To Be Human” by Sia featuring Labrinth- Yes, this song is cheesy and filled with clichés. But I still love it. It’s a return to her roots for Sia, abandoning the party anthems of late. It’s a frank look at what it means to be human. The harmonies are lovely and the bridge is just breathtaking. It’s a great addition to the Wonder Woman soundtrack.
- “Cut to the Feeling” by Carly Rae Jepsen- This is Carly Rae’s triumphant return from her fan-favorite 2015 release E•MO•TION. She sticks with the ‘80s vibe in an adorable song about wanting to already be in the part of the relationship where you’re totally in love. She even hits some great high notes. If this new era is going to sound like this, I can’t wait to see what else will be on the new album!
All righty, Strangers! These were the songs I’ve been jamming to all month long. Have you heard any of these? Do you like any May releases I didn’t include? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time, Strangers!