Weekly Radio Roundup: Sept. 15 – Sept. 21

Read about the most notable singles released this week.

The arts desk is back with some recommendations of singles you may have missed this week. (Staff Illustration by Charlie Dodge)

This edition of Weekly Radio Roundup exhibits singles released by old and new artists, reminding us that good music remains relevant regardless of its release, and feelings of reassurance and warmth never become outdated. So take a break from your homework and explore the most fulfilling, and conversely, disappointing music released this week.

“OK Not To Be OK” by Marshmello and Demi Lovato

Anastasia D.S. Johnson, Staff Writer

What happens when you combine Billboard Top 30 DJ Marshmello and GRAMMY-nominated singer-songwriter Demi Lovato? The world gets the mellow, relatable yet reassuring anthem it has been waiting for. The powerhouse duo released their single, “OK Not To Be OK,” on Sept. 10 to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day. The song’s message that struggling with self-doubt, helplessness and depression are natural, though packed into a brief two minutes and forty one seconds, is clear, honest and serves as the perfect reminder to break stigmas around mental health. The collaboration successfully showcases the strengths of both artists, with Lovato delivering her usual solid, albeit more subdued, radio-friendly version of an emotive performance, and Marshmello combining his somber synthesizer sounds with an uptempo beat. Might the chorus be too uptempo for the severity of the subject matter? Perhaps, but there is no harm done if the track fulfills its purpose of encouragement. 

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“Letter to You” by Bruce Springsteen 

Izzy Salas, Staff Writer 

Springsteen’s latest single, “Letter to You,” is, as always, rich in sound, employing his classic cross between rock and roll and country class.  His voice has developed remarkably well: it’s always been raspy, but it’s still clear and strong as ever. Although the sound of this single fits with his previous work on a surface level, the lyrics fall short. The first line is promising, “Neath a crown of mongrel trees / I pulled that bothersome thread,” but the rest of this engaging detail evaporates as the song progresses. The lyrics are unvaried and vague, with Springsteen repeating the same line, “All the hard things I found out / In my letter to you / All that I’ve found true / And I sent it in my letter to you.” The storytelling element of his previous work — like “Born in the U.S.A” — is missing. Where usually Springtseen’s songs linger, dive deep and portray an entire world of hardship, freedom and wisdom within the lyrics, “Letter to You” offers little context, little emotion and ultimately alienates the listener.    

“Kamikaze” by Omar Apollo

Claire Jones, Contributing Writer 

Omar Apollo’s newest single,“Kamikaze,” reflects on an old relationship that seemingly had a crash-and-burn ending. The rhythmic beat and catchy melody are paired with lyrics that are clearly something Apollo has been waiting to get off his chest. Apollo is angry, even comparing himself and his old lover to the Kamikaze, an Japanese explosive aircraft that had made a suicidal crash on its enemies during World War II. The lyrics are long-winded and mad, perfect for anyone who has gone through a bad breakup. Even if you don’t have a horrible ex you want to scream the lyrics at, the song itself is fun, catchy and the perfect jam for the end of summer.

“Confusion Wheel” by Tom Petty 

Ana Cubas, Music Editor 

I miss Tom Petty immensely. His music is down-to-earth and he consistently reimagined his Southern rock roots with a deluge of emotion within any song he wrote. “Confusion Wheel” is a folk-rock song that finds himself doing just that. This unreleased track is from his 1994 “Wildflowers” sessions without his bandThe Heartbreakers, and it’s Petty at his most simple. His gritty voice is only accompanied by simple chords on an acoustic guitar and modest drums. “Confusion Wheel” feels like a hug, as he sings, “One of these days my old friend / You and I won’t worry no more.” His message is as timely as ever, as he sings about retaining optimism in a time of isolation. “Confusion Wheel” is not a new side of Petty, but it’s a perfect showcase for his vulnerable, intimate side that we all need and cherish.

“Frequency” by Sylvan Esso

Henry Carr, Contributing Writer

On their third single this year, “Frequency,” Sylvan Esso once again proves why their sonic contradictions work so well. Amelia Meath’s folksy vocals juxtapose Nick Sanborn’s modern, glitchy production to make a listening experience that fascinates and bends expectations. Here, the formula is a success. Patterns of short, electronic breaths and sighs backdrop a story of a woman who holds a certain seductive possession over the narrator. Meath sings, “She’s got a frequency / and I caught it all over me.” The frequencies of sound featured here are just as pleasurable as what it must feel like to “bathe in [my] new love.”

“Nobody Gets Me (Like You)” by Wallows 

Claire Jones, Contributing Writer

While the band Wallows typically hits the mark, their newest single “Nobody Gets Me (Like You)” wasn’t quite there. The song started out with a fun beat, making the listening experience open up with a positive outlook. However, there was no build or excitement throughout the rest. The lyrics are cute — they’re an adorable love letter from Wallows’ founding member Braeden Lemasters to his girlfriend — but the lack of musical variation backing them causes them to get lost and sound repetitive. The vision the band had was good, but to me, the single sounds like a skeleton of a song that would have had much more potential if they had crafted it a bit more. I’ll allow myself to say the song is still good, but with Wallows I expected something great.

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