The transition to March and change in weather beckons a sonic shift. Thus, this edition of Weekly Radio Roundup showcases musical experimentation on behalf of well-known artists like Lady Gaga, Car Seat Headrest and The Gorillaz. This week, we celebrate experimentation and evolution, qualities exhibited by every song below.
“Stupid Love” by Lady Gaga
Ian Reid, Staff Writer
“Stupid Love” is not subtle. Everything from the title to the power-metal-lipstick-ad cover art to the Max Martin production credit screams hot pink pop kitsch of the highest order — a change in pace for Lady Gaga, given her recent flirtation with heartland, wood-and-string aesthetics on her 2016 album “Joanne” and Academy Award-winning single “Shallow.” Sure enough, “Stupid Love” is a return to Gaga’s Tisch student roots: yelping vocal chops, pulsing, wiry synths and a stomp-clap drum machine, while Gaga’s defiant (if repetitive) chorus calls to mind her now-iconic string of singles in the late 2000s. Recent interviews with Gaga depict her return to pure dance-pop as a bold, pro-love statement — a refreshing change from the gloomy, trap-saturated Top 40. But at a time when outsider artists like 100 gecs draw crowds with hyper-pop maximalism and newer stars like Dua Lipa deliver earnest pop throwbacks that still function as excellent songs in their own right, “Stupid Love” feels redundant. It may be fun for a few listens, but it isn’t the statement Gaga seems to think it is.
“Can’t Cool Me Down” by Car Seat Headrest
Ashley Wu, Deputy Arts Editor
Will Toledo is a legend. Car Seat Headrest has made a name for themselves as an indie rock tour de force with their raw, unrestrained sound and witty lyricism. However, their new single “Can’t Cool Me Down” abandons their established sound and forays into new territory. The music features a xylophone-like twanging that alludes to pop music. I had to keep asking myself whether or not this really was the Car Seat Headrest that I know and love. Nevertheless, change is not necessarily bad. This departure from their house style just proves how dynamic Car Seat Headrest really is.
“bloodstream” by Soccer Mommy
Henry Carr, Contributing Writer
Anxiety is visceral. It monopolizes our bodies, builds homes too large in scale to fit in our veins. We want to — need to — get it out, a mass eviction, but sometimes we do so in ways that hurt us further. In her latest song “bloodstream,” we see Sophia Allison’s Soccer Mommy, “knuckles [bleeding] into the sink,” an image showing the aftermath of one’s self-harm as a form of release. She may “[cover] up the wounds,” find brighter days filled with “hydrangeas blooming,” but these are but a mere distraction, momentary bliss before the inevitable burst of the geyser that is her pent-up anxiety. This state of mentally existing in a doomed future is something she’s experienced “since [she] was 13.” This is also the age when the music landscape of Allison’s time reflects that of who she’s referencing here: Avril Lavigne and Ashlee Simpson –– all of that young, female angst wrapped in acoustic guitar strums and layers of vocal whines. This isn’t an indication of immaturity, rather an informed reminder that youth’s emotional turmoil doesn’t cease to exist once you cross a finish line that says “21.”
“NTE” by Buscabulla
Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Music Editor
Buscabulla’s back and it seems their sound has changed for the worse. Abandoning the ethereal tones of their earlier EPs in favor of louder percussive patterns, all the subtlety of their work seems to have been traded for pop triteness. It’s sad to see a band that made such a big deal out of trying to rekindle their Puerto Rican roots fall flat in doing so. What should play out like a graceful ode to the liveliness of Puerto Rico’s burgeoning independent music scene simply sounds like a failed experiment. Raquel Berríos and Luis Del Valle’s attempts at making themselves into popstars contradicts everything they set out to do when they started making music. Simply juxtaposing “NTE’s” music video versus that of “Métele’s,” there’s a clear artistic simplification the band seems to have undergone as a whole. Where “Métele” saw them pushing against archaic views of sexual expression in Puerto Rico, “NTE” is but mere diegetic noise for an afternoon at the beach.
“Fast Learner” by Shabazz Palaces & Purple Tape Nate
Charles Smith, Staff Writer
Play this loud, really loud. The wooziness really starts to glow with the volume turned way up on headphones or big speakers. It’s great retrofuture background music, good for speeding down the highway in a DeLorean or selling drugs to a fax machine. Inspirational lyrics from first-timer Purple Tape Nate liven up the song’s frenetic appeal, adding a sprightly feel to the age-old oddness of Shabazz Palaces. As a whole, the track cements A$AP Rocky’s statement: “I’m like Sabazz Palaces’ last acid hit, elaborate.” In short, the song is a trip, and it loops on.
“Describe” by Perfume Genius
Ian Reid, Staff Writer
“Describe” is a slow burn. The newest single from Mike Hadreas starts forcefully, with brawny, smoldering shoegaze guitars that add some bite to Hadreas’s usually delicate voice. Jangly acoustic guitar and punching snares come in, providing the perfect backdrop for Hadreas’ sparse, impressionistic lyrics. “Can you describe them for me? / Can you just find him for me?” he pines, his voice dripping with lethargy and yearning as he calls out into the void. And the void answers back. Halfway through “Describe,” the sturdy riffs dissolve into a vast, spacey, molasses ambience, and Hadreas goes silent, awestruck by the universe he’s floating in. It’s alien, distant, yet undeniably warm, glowing in the darkness like bubbling magma on the surface of a primordial love.
“Désolé (feat. Fatoumata Diawara)” by Gorillaz
Emily Nicole Glass, Contributing Writer
The virtual band is back in with Song Machine, a bold project that has the group collaborating and releasing music as it’s created. The project’s second song, “Désolé,” features one of the band’s trademarks: a multimedia music video. Masters of many genres, this Gorillaz song features a groovy bossa nova vibe despite its remorseful lyrics. Lead singer 2D (voiced by Damon Albarn) sings in both French and English alongside Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara. Guitarist Noodle and drummer Russel Hobbs also make appearances, as fantastical creatures lurk in the distance, highlighting the whimsical feel of the sounds on display.
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