This week, love was in the air as Paris Hilton made a doo-wop comeback to original music on a Valentine’s-themed single. And then there was Frank Ocean, gifting fans with a much subtler love song, also a throwback, in the form of a searching cover of “Moon River.” Haiti’s voices find a dance-ready platform in “Bayo.” L.A. rock project Lord Huron contemplates mortality — in a good way. And pop singer ROZES finds a good partner in DJ Nicky Romero’s beats.
"Moon River," Frank Ocean
It’s the cover we didn’t know we needed. Frank Ocean’s subtly mesmerizing take on the 1961 Henry Mancini classic is a haunting — and haunted — moment of introspection, vocal layers piled off-kilter over a minimalist synth base. Audrey Hepburn made “Moon River” iconic in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and nabbed the song an Oscar for her performance. Ocean’s take is just as searchingly reflective, but updated for 2018. An extended outro — there’s a good 20 seconds of near-silence that tapers it off — gives us the space to pause and consider. “There’s such a crazy world to see,” Ocean has just reminded us. “We’re all chasin’ after all the same.” The “Huckleberry friend” of the original remains unsaid, but no matter: that elusive rainbow’s end is a shared dream across the generations.
"I Need You," Paris Hilton
If you were expecting Paris Hilton’s return to music to come in the form of frothy pop or edgy EDM, think again. The reality-star-turned-singer-turned-DJ dabbled in dance pop on her 2006 album and has been ruling club floors around the world from behind the decks for years. But her long-awaited new release is an entirely different sound. “I Need You” sees Paris throwing it back to a sugary doo-wop vibe with breathy vocals and fittingly sweet lyrics: it was released on Valentine’s Day, after all. As she croons lines like “I wanna be the bunny in your Easter,” you can feel the wink. Consider this one as another episode in Paris’s ongoing reinvention.
"Bayo," Michael Brun
Premed-student-turned-festival-DJ Michael Brun returned to his roots for “Bayo.” For Haitian-born Brun, that means he headed back to his island home, working with local artists to craft a dance-ready sound inspired by Haitian musical traditions. “Bayo” bubbles with exuberant spirit, helped along by his collaborators Strong G, Baky and J. Perry, fusing Haitian sounds with Brun’s electronic beats. The result is a celebration song brimming with confidence.
"Wait by the River," Lord Huron
Take a deep breath. Now press play on “Wait by the River,” the lead single off L.A. rock band Lord Huron’s upcoming album Vide Noir. “Wait by the River” is more a mood than a song, a meandering moment that thrums with thoughtful production. The dreamy lo-fi rock tune feels like a reverie: a soundtrack to nostalgia and regret, given a sweet musical touch that belies its darkness, inspired by solo wanderings around nighttime L.A. “I’m a fool, I’m just a man,” lead singer Ben Schneider admits despondently. Sometimes, just that simple message is worth remembering.
"Where Would We Be," ROZES and Nicky Romero
“Been a minute since high school, and I still kinda miss you,” singer-songwriter ROZES admits off the top of her new pop-EDM track. “Is it weird that I do?” It’s not weird at all, ROZES; it’s deeply relatable. As “Where Would We Be” outlines an alternate reality over the electronic beats of popular Dutch DJ Nicky Romero, listeners will find there’s a lot to nod along to. ROZES was the voice behind early Chainsmokers hit “Roses,” but since then she’s found her own lane in emotion-friendly dance tunes, with “Where Would We Be” a catchy addition to her collection.