It’s National Women’s History Month! But we’re also navigating a global pandemic and the constant presence of hovering parents at a time when we should be enjoying the blessedness of college life. What’s going on? I don’t know. That said, we’ve rounded up a list of recently released singles by potently female-centric bands that will hopefully keep you from losing your mind in between Zoom sessions when all your friends have been relocated to terribly distant lands and the spontaneity of fun has been eradicated by the fear of contagion.
“Hold It Together” by The Marías
Ethan Zack, Arts Editor
With their latest single, The Marías have successfully upheld their reputation for solely making music that glows in the dark. Atmospheric, murky synths set the perfect background to showcase lead singer María Zardoya’s impossibly smooth and sultry vocals. “Hold It Together” values this shadowy soundscape above all else, but the lyrics manage to imbue the relatively simple core conceit of falling hard for someone with a sinister undercurrent that compliments the rest of the song extremely well. Ultimately, the band’s new release is far from approaching any sort of stylistic departure from their initial work, but it offers perhaps the most polished presentation of their darkly elegant sound yet.
“Gaslighter” by Dixie Chicks
Izzy Salas, Staff Writer
“Gaslighter” tells the classic country story of boy meets girl, fame and fortune and the ultimate female realization that the dude is the worst. It’s peppy, it has some wonderful mandolin moments and that country twang that gives it a little heartful, comfortable boost while also having a pop element in the strong a capella opening to the song. For a situation that left the Dixie Chicks penniless and heartbroken by a manipulative husband, the song is chipper and serves up a harsh burn: “Repeating all of the mistakes of your father.” “Gaslighter” calls out a rotten husband with a smile.
“XS” by Rina Sawayama
Isabella Armus, Contributing Writer
Continuing on her artistic trend of sparkling diva pop (reminiscent of Mariah Carey and The Pussycat Dolls of the early 2000s), Rina Sawayama dazzles with another exciting single entitled “XS.” Throughout its three minute run time, Rina name-drops flashy items like Cartier jewelry and the latest Elon Musk-developed super cars as she demands for “just a little more” of the titular “excess” during the sticky, earworm of a chorus. All of this is done over a glossy instrumental that features plucky guitars and just a splash of opulent orchestrations. The track isn’t just your average piece of expensive pop pastiche though, as raging industrial metal breakdowns are also spliced in between verses. Altogether, the amalgamation of elements aid Rina with her main message: you can definitely look, but you better not touch her steeze.
“Me Gusta” by Shakira & Anuel AA
Ana Cubas, Contributing Writer
Shakira’s still got it, but she may have lost that gritty touch that had listeners spellbound during the early 2000s. “Me Gusta” is the epitome of Latino pop acclimating to the reggaeton and trap scene. With the rapping virtuosity of Anuel AA clenching to the sampling trend of recent hits, like Bad Bunny’s “Safaera” and his own recent collaboration with the likes of Daddy Yankee and Karol G, “China,” “Me Gusta” stands as just another trap song destined to be lost amongst the annals of Latin pop history. The slight touch of dembow is accompanied by a lush, colorful acoustic guitar that creates a delicate sound for an otherwise mediocre song. Shakira’s voice still remains as sultry and full-bodied as ever on “Me Gusta.” As much as I feel my relationship to the enticingly risky, unorthodox and downright sexy ghost of “Hips-Don’t-Lie” Shakira perishing, my devotion to her remains true … as I hope for a reassuring new album.
“Memory Foam” by The Paranoyds
Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Music Editor
If there’s a band whose name captures the sentiments of the zeitgeist right now, it’s The Paranoyds. Paranoia seems to be running rampant these days and solitude seems to be the only haven for comfort. Well, that and the soothing yet anarchic vocals of the aforementioned punk quartet. Thus, as you chill out at home on your memory foam, I recommend listening to The Paranoyds’ latest single. Short and sweet at two minutes and 16 seconds, “Memory Foam” is a lively ode about the comforting nature of mattresses. The way in which they delicately frame bodies and memories, providing you with a place to rest in such dire times as these.
“Never Worn White” by Katy Perry
Charles Smith, Staff Writer
Katy Perry is pregnant and dating Orlando Bloom. Okay? Now you don’t have to listen to the song. Katy Perry is good at singing about vulnerable, lame topics. It’s hard to top the earnest charm of getting swept up in a teenage dream in your late 20s, or waking up broke in Vegas, covered in glitter. She’s great when she’s out for thrills, not our sympathy or inspiration. In the Perry canon, thrillers include “California Gurls” and “I Kissed a Girl” — these are classics. Sympathy hits include “Firework” and “Roar” — these are snoozefests. “Never Worn White” falls in the second group, the boring ones.
“Famous Monsters” by The Chromatics
Alexandra Bentzien, Staff Writer
The space of night unfolding is the empty dance floor after the party, when the DJ cycles through a mix of familiar synth and lo-fi beats inspired by electronic disco music of any decade since 1980. If you’re falling asleep and want to have a curated exhibition of dreams about celebrities lurking around the valley (picture the L.A. of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”), then “Famous Monsters” by The Chromatics is just the song for you. Calling this single a track instead of a song may be more appropriate, given that singing is replaced by ASMR visions as the voice of a self-help narrator paints each new scene: “Full moon, palm tree, cigarette, hotel lobby;” then: “marble mansion, private party, manicured lawn.” While listening gets a bit introspective, conjuring imagery to go along with the lyrics becomes an individualized experience due to the minimalist descriptions. It’s a story with the ability to alter its plot and its characters in what is a surrealist sidebar to conventional songwriting.
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