Singles round-up: Beats of many sizes

Honest, I tried to embed a Meghan Trainor video, but she’s DMCA’d them all clean off YouTube.

Azealia Banks
“The Big Big Beat”

Roll over Rick Rubin and tell Billy Squier the news. Clipped electro-bass below, Biggie chopped to the edge of coherence above, insouciant house beat running straight up the middle — that’s all Ms. A to Z requires to coast along on impure attitude, from the soft-spoken bad-bitching of her verses to the jazzy look-ma-no-gravity runs on the chorus. Hope she won’t hop back on social media to explain the bit about the pricey Jesuit medal. But if she keeps dragging producers like An Expresso out of the underground, she can tweet any dumb shit she wants — Ted Cruz dick pics, my credit card number, plans to bomb a preschool, w/e.

“It’s You”

“Like I Would”

“Hey, what’s up, it’s been awhile” is a fib at best on your third track of the young year, but the phantom chorale and when-I’m-damn-well-ready beat of the resentfully arrogant “Like I Would” would be a nasty kickoff to that solo full-length. And the postcoital you-still-awake? falsetto on “It’s You” would provide a sweet coda to an album of bangers. I’m disappointedly suspecting that “Zayn Malik, newly grown-ass man out to get what he deserves” will win the narrative tug-of-war with “Zayn Malik, dreamy fuckpet that newly grown-ass women deserve” when it all shakes out. Then again, “It’s You” is track 3 and “Like I Would” is #17, so what the hell do I know?

5th Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign
“Work from Home”

If the latest installment in the grand pop tradition of oh-shit-they-already-called-a-song-that? hardly clears the hurdle set by the Pointer Sisters’ “Jump (For My Love)” it doesn’t punch the clock like Sheena Easton’s “9 to 5 (Morning Train)” either. Even Ty plays his part when it comes time to free his lance. Sexier than configuring a VPN, not to mention Jordin Sparks’ 2015 B.O.B.-abetted application for the same job. But that’s not saying much, and aside from the A+ “No getting off early,” neither are they.

Gwen Stefani
“Make Me Like You”


Her likable band uncoincidentally accredited cachet just around the time that the alternative (as we used to say) was nu-metal, and though I appreciated how her solo bow accentuated her hyper-girlishness too loopily to fit anyone’s pop feminist paradigm, that shit got annoying (A-N-N-O-Y-I-N-G) pretty quick — and that’s coming from a guy who loves echoing her Akon song at ballgames. She’s had to try twice as hard as Dave Grohl to survive the biz, and that ain’t fair. But both of her recent Swedepop makeovers fall back on that huskyperkycool vocal affectation that’s been rubbing me the wrong way for two decades, modulated to a pout or puckered to a sob as the mood requires. She sounds more at home in her Target ad than she does as a Gen X Sia.

Meghan Trainor

What’s wrong with being confident.

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