Hello and welcome! Are you ready for the Super Bowl? Or are you just planning to hook up with the halftime show? OR are you just not interested because “too much hype?” Either way, we’ve got you for your perfect weekend playlist, welcome to V’s New Music Roundup, where we award you some of the biggest and best releases of the week. , whether singles or albums (oh, also, Valentine’s Day, yes, that).
Here are this week’s top picks:
Hello beauty by Mary J. Blige
Ahead of her halftime performance this Sunday, Mary J. Blige returns with her first studio album since 2017, an offering that deals with confidence, empowerment and vulnerability. Opening in a recent interview about repeating the album title to herself every morning to boost her confidence, the record sees the singer stick to her familiar, polished R&B with a bit more added emotional weight, being more open about herself than ever. It’s deeply personal, in that it does what the phrase “hello gorgeous” is supposed to do: build itself up, tell itself that it’s okay and worth it. And you know what, we believe in it. And I hope she can too.
Pop slut by Kim Petras
Now we are entering a whole other realm here, a love for the lust that Valentine’s Day offers. And this is my way of saying it, this album is basically a running list of Petras’ sexual fantasies in her attempt to reclaim the narrative that surrounds her. To some extent does it work? Simply put, if you want to see it that way, it’s probably best seen as a fun adventure (in more ways than one) that’s just meant to get dirty, infused with a heavy dose of techno-pop from the 1960s. 90. Also, “Throat Goat” is an out of body experience that I’m not sure will ever be repeated.
Bussin by Nicki Minaj ft. Lil Baby
In anticipation of her next album, Nicki Minaj has announced that every Friday will be “Pink Friday”, with a new release every week. Based on these last two singles, however, they sound like they’re anything but pink, more like a darker shade of magenta? Blood red? Minaj comes in tough and more serious, she’s not ready to take shit, and she keeps it much more subdued. With two of these back-to-back offers, it’s safe to say that the next album promises to go in a direction we’ve rarely seen her venture in, and could it be worth the wait? Crossed fingers.
“Closer” by Saweetie ft. HER
From Minaj’s somber atmosphere to upbeat and pop-ish “Closer,” it’s kind of an expected surprise, if that makes sense. It definitely has a beat and vibe that is right up the alley of Saweetie, that kind of sweet and funky track, but definitely a departure from HER’s usual style. And I love that, she proves that she is much more than serious and powerful themes, capable of delivering more dynamic and fun productions, of which we had seen glimmers at the beginning of her career. It’s almost like something is coming out of Pop sluta perfect song to listen to while bouncing on a beach.
Jung Kook’s “Stay Alive” (produced by BTS’s SUGA)
This track, which is part of the HYBE webtoon soundtrack 7FATES: CHAKHO, is a radical and dramatic turn for the members of BTS. Jung Kook’s vocals best match this memoir, able to convey the most emotionally heartbreaking moments with one voice quite skillfully, singing of feelings of isolation and heartfelt companionship. It comes off as an epic tale that really gets you high, just a very well done, very well produced, very well performed track (what if it was on the Unexplored soundtrack though? Now THAT would kill).
“The Joker and the Queen” by Ed Sheeran ft. Taylor Swift
Sheeran continues on the love-as-a-card-game metaphor by inviting friend and former collaborator Swift to add an all-new verse, offering a female perspective. I’m still a fan of this technique, having opposing points of view on a story always makes it much easier to detect the complexity of human emotions. And when your second point of view comes from one of the best songwriters of this generation, hackneyed metaphor aside, what can you even expect? It’s piano and an acoustic melody that soothes you to present a gentle, careful point of view that elevates it even more.
“The Worst Day” by Future
I’ll be blunt, as objective as I try to be, I was ready to dislike this track after the first eight bars. But then I listened more carefully to what he said, and especially how he said it, and I got a good 180 (well, 120, maybe). This Valentine’s Day diss is more vulnerable than we see in Future, and the pain in his voice is quite palpable. Sure, the standard “guns and bitches” line is present, and the production is almost identical to many, MANY traditional rap tracks before, but I appreciate the human emotion present, and I appreciate that on top of all.
“Celebrity Skin” by Doja Cat
I would therefore have been much, much less convinced of Doja Cat’s prowess in producing a flagship cover of Hole if I had not seen and fell for her metal performance EMAs of “Say So”. Sure, some things have to stay the way they are, but… does Doja Cat have another hard rock career waiting for her? What works for her is a dangerous sexiness and swag she brings to this track, which may not be a replica of Courtney Love’s original apathetic tone for the song, but much more in line with her style and his voice. Considering it’s going to be homes everywhere for Taco Bell’s upcoming Super Bowl ad, better be prepared for a wild night.
“MAMIII” by Becky G and KAROL G
Okay, Latin music and pop music stans in general everywhere can rejoice when two major superstars of the genre come together for your new favorite Galentine jam. The two lines exchange on the end of a toxic relationship and find comfort in others, and blend so perfectly into each other that it is often difficult to distinguish one from the other. There’s this symbiotic synergy between the two that comes from their equally sultry takes on fun, boppy vibes. It’s effortless and I honestly recommend it especially for chopping vegetables.
“Billions” by Caroline Polachek
Covering octaves and timbres you wouldn’t expect, the production of “Billions” honestly feels like a very lucid fever dream, like a cross between Ashnikko, Grimes and Sarah McLachlan. It’s ethereal, biting, otherworldly, scientific, metallic, all the adjectives you could think of. Like… like a gunmetal angelic battle cry. Honestly, I don’t know if what I’m saying makes sense, but you can’t really describe a song like this. Listening to it makes you feel things you never thought you could feel about music, and after last year’s brilliant “Bunny is a Rider” there’s really only a supremacy of Polacheck to bow to.
“One More Night” by Saleka
The beauty of Saleka’s music lies not just in its smooth production or evocative lyrics, but in its hypnotic interpretation. She is able to easily move her voice into high harmonies from low growls, soft falsettos and even small belts. She offers variety without feeling like she’s trying too hard to impress and it keeps you tuned in as she guides you through the narrative she weaves for the “Servant” character of Apple TV+, for which this was written. Come for the story, stay for the delivery.