Lana Del Rey continues the rollout to her upcoming album with a nearly-ten-minute new song, “Venice Bitch,” that’s exactly as moody as you’d expect. Chris Cornell’s estate releases the first new posthumous track from the former Soundgarden singer, a tune that’s both haunting and exultant. BROCKHAMPTON tries on the classic boy band ballad for size—but makes it their own with thoughtful rap verses. Harlem’s Melii makes a Spanish-language bop destined for earworm status. And pop singer ABIR finds joy in being young and, well, rude on “Young & Rude.”
“Venice Bitch,” Lana Del Rey
Slip into yet another dream with Lana Del Rey on “Venice Bitch,” the second new song off her upcoming project Norman F–king Rockwell. Del Rey has always been a master of mood; on “Venice Bitch,” she starts off at her softest and lightest, all warm guitar and floaty vocals. But with a run time well over 9 minutes, the track has plenty of surprises in store, from distortion interludes to muted synth lines of varying insistence to eerie electric guitar plucks. The song’s meandering fuzziness is a boon, though. It lets her work her ambient magic without having to stick to a strict song formula. “Nothing gold can stay / You write, I tour, we make it work,” she sings by way of explanation. “You’re beautiful and I’m insane / We’re American-made.” It’s less a love song to a specific person than an embrace of a way of being in love, pretty and messy at once.
“When Bad Does Good,” Chris Cornell
The first posthumous new release from the estate of Chris Cornell, “When Bad Does Good” finds the former frontman of Soundgarden and Audioslave singing longingly over an organ, his raspy-edged voice drawing out lasting notes. “Standing beside an open grave / Your fate decided, your life erased / Your final hour has come today / Lit by the fire of your temples burning,” the song opens in a haunting, prescient image. The song’s arc is toward the light—”Sometimes bad can do some good,” he suggests, with a searing guitar break. In its honesty and classic rock emotion, it ultimately speaks for itself as a document of Cornell’s power.
“San Marcos,” BROCKHAMPTON
In their previous hit “BOOGIE,” rap collective BROCKHAMPTON called themselves the “best boy band since One Direction.” It was a bold claim, but on their new album Iridescence, the group proves they’re doing their best to live up to their lofty goals. While most of their work is swaggering, playful rap, “San Marcos” shows off an unexpected softer side. Over a tender acoustic melody, members take turns with introspective verses; their blanket use of autotune and echoing background hums add distinctive layers to the production. But it’s the lyrics that pack the most punch: “Suicidal thoughts, but I won’t do it / Take that how you want, it’s important I admit it,” raps Joba, while the song closes with a universal plea—”I want more out of life than this”—as the strings come in. In that moment, it feels like the kind of ballad One Direction might once have played, although it comes packaged with a bright BROCKHAMPTON twist.
“Young & Rude,” ABIR
If you’re not into “Young & Rude” at the opening bars, then it will probably hit you at the bass-heavy drop that it’s a real-deal earworm. Abir is a Moroccan-born, New-York-based singer-songwriter who’s just getting started; she’s previously worked on hits with EDM producers like Cash Cash and Masego, but now is putting her voice front and center in the lead-up to a debut album scheduled for an Oct. 19 release. “You know that I’m young and I’m pretty rude,” she shrugs in the song, unapologetic in her confidence; “I’ve been breaking hearts, I’ve been breaking rules / just a bad girl with an attitude… but I can give it all for you.”
“Como Si Na,” Melii
If you’re trying to fill the “Havana”-sized gap in your playlist (or maybe you’ve played Cardi B’s “Be Careful” one too many times), Harlem singer-songwriter-rapper Melii’s latest, “Como Si Na,” will be your next fix. At just 20, Melii’s delivery of slinky Spanish lines oozes confidence over a lilting, sinuous beat. She’s just as comfortable flexing her attitude as a rapper and modulating her vocals with care, turning the track into an infectious display of her talent—all while putting a guy in his place. “You wanna treat me like a toy?” she shakes her head in one of the only English moments of the song. “You be cryin’ like a boy.”
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