So What Songs DO You Like?

Charli XCX feat. Rita Ora

“Doing It”

I understand why some fans miss broody Charli — a little gray shading does add an illusion of depth. But brattening up her sound wasn’t just wholesome careerism — it was smart for her art. Sucker is a brilliant series of shifting poses, an avant-garde edit of a teen-comedy montage of outfit changes. Taken one shot at a time, though, each single has to (and does) get over on sheer sensation. “Boom Clap” was (unfortunately) maybe too earnest to ascend to the jock-jam canon; “Break the Rules” was (fortunately) too knowing about its arrested adolescence to go the Full Avril. “Doing It” is a cool-strutting respite from Sucker’s wallop, and the truly opulent synthesizers Ariel Rechtshaid amasses for Charli and Rita to luxuriate amidst will coordinate well with chartpop’s current upscale simmer ‘n’ glide. So many songs about dancing are really about doing it, it’s only fair that “Doing It” is really about dancing. I just hope she and Rita aren’t too classy to talk shit about Iggy during their girls’ night out.


Kanye West feat. Paul McCartney

“Only One”

Imagining your mother as an angel  — literally — is no way for a grown man to work through his issues with women. With the climactic “we’ll have wings and we’ll fly” the whole shebang threatens to swan dive so irretrievably into the ick that I’ve even tried to rationalize the lyric as a sly (subconscious?) compliment to Denny Laine’s bandmate. But for anyone even slightly sympathetic to Kanye as a (mediated yes of course but anyway) human being, the modesty and openness of his electro-squiggled singing should bring this bare sketch of a song back down to earth. “Tell Nori about me” just kills me every time. As for Paul, he’s gracious enough to keep mum and play Kanye off with his best Bob James impression.


Nicki Minaj feat. Drake and Lil Wayne

“Truffle Butter”

“Only (Slight Return)” slows down Maya Jane Coles’ hypnotic “What They Say” to a drugged out lope and celebrates an oozy slang term you should make all efforts not to familiarize yourself with. Each verse starts “thinkin’ out loud” (in tribute to the great Ed Sheeran) and Nicki and Drake conversate with the casual charm that disclaimer promises. Then comes Weezy, determined to out-louche himself with a bathroom sex move requiring such limber poise I have no doubt it ends IRL with a call to the paramedics.


Tove Lo

“Talking Body”

“Habits (Stay High)” was a hit because its idea of decadence — authorized voyeurism, daddy-banging and Twinkie-barfing, a truly odd bathtub fixation — was lurid and cartoonish enough to excite the imagination of heartbroken teen virgins without seeming too real and scary. Here Tove works a similar twist with a come-on disguised as a pledge of monogamy. Her opening gambit (“If we’re talking body/ You got a perfect one so lay it on me”) casts her as Sweden’s belated one-woman answer to the Bellamy Brothers, but the clincher is “If you fuck me right/ We fuck for life” — the old death-do-us-part vow turned naughty and transgressive. Though she should have shelved that bit about using bodies up — never know, Marilyn Manson might need a song doctor someday.




Pretentious? That’s just a word jerks use to discourage non-geniuses from being ambitious. Sure, Katie Crutchfield might ease up on the alliteration pedal — “quick to query” is neither quite prosaic nor poetic enough. But not only does “I left you out like a carton of milk” do all the allusive work a good metaphor should but Crutchfield’s expanding voice carries it even further, cradling her consonants with increased care, her dry indie twang crackling into gorgeous brushfires. And remember what David Byrne warned us about the air.

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