Thursday, May 28, 2015

Singles Summary: May 2015

Becky G // "Lovin' So Hard"
TBA, Kemosabe

Three pre-album singles in a one year period, yet there are still no definitive plans for Becky G's debut studio album. The infectious jams "Shower" and "Can't Stop Dancin'" were dropped this year, followed by the uninspired "Lovin' So Hard" this year. This new love song lacks the infectious kick of her past singles, but she tries to mask that fact with a mushy video full of scenes featuring her boyfriend, Austin Mahone.

Hilary Duff // "Sparks"
Breathe In, Breathe Out, RCA

After two ill-fated single releases last year, Hilary Duff is back to promoting her upcoming fifth studio album, Breathe In, Breathe Out. "Sparks" was released last month, with the music video making its appearance this month. The video is much more of an ad for Tinder than a music video, but the cut-away dance scenes actually look nice. The song, on the other hand, is an amazing nod to '90s and early '00s synthpop with an ear-catching whistle post-chorus.

M.I.A. // "Platforms"
TBA, released demo

M.I.A. is back in the studio and is already leaking demos out to her fans. She dropped "Platforms" on Soundcloud this month, a song that delivers next-level production and slow-paced rap-singing. The ambient, futuristic backdrop impresses, while M.I.A. makes a statement on the progression and availability of the Internet and media, among other things: "Rolling by scrolling for the future on the app / Data mine my mind like a diamond in the rough."

Sia // "California Dreamin'"
San Andreas (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), WaterTower

After she penned Jessie J's piece for the second installment of the Pitch Perfect franchise and released a track with Giorgio Moroder last month, Sia has dropped a new track. Her unique spin on the Mamas and Papas' "California Dreamin'" was tagged on the end of the soundtrack to San Andreas. The original piece has been transformed into a somber, dramatic piece to match the movie it accompanies. Sia's vocal is stunning (per usual), and the haunting direction that she took the song is perfect for the theater.

Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar // "Bad Blood"
1989, Big Machine

Watch yourself, Katy Perry. Taylor Swift is back for blood and called in all of her friends for back-up. At the Billboard Music Awards, she premiered the star-studded music video for a new remix of "Bad Blood," which features rapper Kendrick Lamar. This version strips off Swift's verses in favor of Lamar's raps, adds some bass, and only allows Swift the choruses and bridge of the song. Considering that 1989 has already effortlessly sold millions of copies and should be losing steam, a revamped remix with a huge star is just the right move for Swift.

Britney Spears & Iggy Azalea // "Pretty Girls"

Put one of the most prominent artists of the new millennium and one of last year's biggest artists together in one song, and what do you get? A short hip-hop infused track titled "Pretty Girls." 

Britney Spears has given up on the Britney Jean ideal of helping write her own music; instead, she hands the writing credits over to the girls of Little Mix and the production trio The Invisible Men. Along for the ride is Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, who gets to sing along Spears in the chorus and makes a short rap appearance. 

The song lacks the certain pop bite of many of Spears' other pieces, but it is a sufficient addition to her discography. It is reminiscent of Azalea's own "Fancy" and Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl," but it has just enough spark to set itself apart. Spears' vocals are still heavily edited (as expected), giving her a youthful sound that counteracts with Azalea's deeper approach as they chant, "All around the world, pretty girls wipe the floor with all the boys." 

As for Azalea, this could be just the right ticket to get her back on the bright side of pop culture. An unflattering Vine meme of her rapping at a SXSW performance circulated the web earlier this year, making her the butt of many jokes. Azalea's rap verse is not her best (there's still a lot of "Iggy, Iggy, Iggy-Iggs, Igg, Iggy, Iggy" in there to fill her gaps), but it's nice to hear her in the hook of the song. 

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