Listen to this: Singles from July
In case you missed it, here are new tracks by Bo Burnham, Peggy Gou and more.
Jul 30, 2021
WSN’s music desk is no longer on summer hiatus. While the staff took a short break, the music world delivered hundreds of singles to sift through and enjoy. And yet, through the cacophony of one month’s worth of songs, a few noteworthy tracks play on repeat in our heads — and our playlists — in a much more enduring way. Here is a diverse selection of exhilarating singles from July, by artists ranging from Peggy Gou to Ben Platt.
“All Eyes On Me (Song Only)” by Bo Burnham
Caitlin Hsu, UTA Managing Editor
If you’ve been on the internet at all this past month, you’ve heard this song from Bo Burnham’s film “Inside.” Burnham’s vocals, which are pitched down to a deeper baritone, are the star of this track — his layered harmonies ebb and flow like waves over the mantra-like refrains of “We’re going to go where everybody knows/Everybody knows.” The lyrics are introspective and self-conscious, directly telling the audience, “Don’t overthink this/Look in my eye/Don’t be scared, don’t be shy/Come on in, the water’s fine.” A crowd cheers sporadically throughout the track, contrasting sharply with the visual of Burnham singing alone in his studio. The real emotional kicker is the bridge, reflecting the despair experienced by a generation growing up beneath the threat of climate change. When Burnham sings, “You say the ocean’s rising, like I give a shit/You say the whole world’s ending, honey it already did/You’re not gonna slow it, Heaven knows you tried,” it resonates particularly with young people on TikTok, where the audio started trending as Gen Z’ers used it to express their anxieties about the future.
“13 IVI” by BM
Alexandra Chan, Managing Editor
“13 IVI” is one of three dynamic singles on Big Matthew’s solo debut “The First Statement.” With BM’s co-ed K-pop group KARD teammate J.Seph heading off to military duty and halting group activities, the Korean-American rapper shows off his individual style in this aggressively masculine title track. Reminiscent of other unexpectedly addictive KARD tracks he’s worked on, such as “Dumb Litty” and “Red Moon,” the heavy bass balances his endearing, swaggering confidence to create a groovy summer banger. On “13 IVI,” he declares, “Sleep on BM, that’s a borderline crime” — a bold statement and potential hint that future releases will be as electrifying as this track, as chaotic and brilliant as he is.
“Bunny is a Rider” by Caroline Polacheck
Isabella Armus, Deputy Arts Editor
After the success of her breakout solo record “Pang,” former Chairlift member Caroline Polacheck has returned with a track that sounds declaratively of summer. Taking her PC music roots to the fizzier realm of pop, “Bunny is a Rider” incorporates an array of electronic whistles, snaps, whoops and chirps to create an elusive narrative of a woman who can’t be held down. Polacheck describes the titular “Bunny” to be as skittish as her namesake, characterizing her as someone impossible to find even by satellite who goes AWOL whenever she pleases. The song’s structure also assumes a more restrained approach, with Polacheck outlining only these images of Bunny in sharp staccato refrains that both intrigue and mystify. Although the track feels more obscure than her previous artful gut punches, ”Bunny” is just plain catchy and can make anyone dance the night away.
“Happy to be Sad” by Ben Platt
Sasha Cohen, Arts Editor
From boyish “Dear Evan Hansen” star to sophisticated pop artist, Ben Platt reaches new heights with his single “Happy To Be Sad.” When Platt sings, “This time there’s no hopeless nights/No losing sleep, no pointless fights/Just missing you ’til you come back and hold me/I’m happy to be sad,” his emotionally-charged falsetto illustrates the bittersweet feeling of loving another so much that their absence generates a painful longingness to be reunited and together again. Ditching the usual piano and guitar, Platt experiments with muted, punctuated synths and saxophone that harmoniously mesh with his velvety vocals. This new electronic sound shines a spotlight on an unfamiliar, intriguing and mature side of Platt, leaving listeners craving more before his album release on August 13.
“u v v p” by illuminati hotties
Ana Cubas, Arts Editor “u v v p” is a surf-rock and country-tinged track full of refreshing contrasts. The song cannot be represented better than by a breezy image of the beach, where rich, gritty sand meets the grace of tranquil waves, coexisting, despite the roughness of one and beauty of the other. In “u v v p,” the lingering reverb of guitars and deep, hearty instrumentation is the sand, while Sarah Tudzin’s free-flowing, breathy vocals are the waves. At times, it seems like Tudzin is gasping for air; but her vocals, rather than drowning, are only more heavenly, as if they’re floating above every other sound. Midway through, the waves slam into the shore and abandon surf-rock for a punk-inspired twist, only to separate again and return to the more pleasing tropical sounds. There’s more pull than push, as the lyrics illustrate the end of a relationship. The sandy, western influence on “u v v p” comes into full force at the end, as Buck Meek of Big Thief emerges and emulates a cowboy with “too much tumbleweed in my blood to ever settle down.” Much like Meek’s spoken word, “u v v p” is a sincere, entertaining track that only could be achieved with the wit and creativity of illuminati hotties.
“I Go” by Peggy Gou
Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Abroad Arts Editor
Inspired by a motivational note she wrote to herself while reflecting on her exhaustion in an airport bathroom, Peggy Gou’s “I Go” is a defibrillator as a beat, full of rejuvenating electricity meant to keep you alive and dancing. Approximately six minutes long, the song never deliberates, thrusting itself directly into a groovy drumbeat that anchors the cheery nature of the track. “I Go” is happiness in a bottle with a dash of rebelliousness as its pulp, a true tribute to rave culture, but also the development of something entirely new. With “I Go,” Gou manages to refashion the familiar into a more modern and perhaps timeless sound, much like she did with her previous tracks “Starry Night” or “It Makes You Forget.” Dense beats and pop-like refrains are there, but rather than coming across as regurgitated, they feel resurrected in Gou’s hands, transforming into anachronistic packages of fun that carry the familiarity of an old pop song while still announcing newness.
“Creep (Very 2021 RMX)” by Thom Yorke feat. Radiohead
Ashley Wu, Editor-in-Chief
The first time I heard Radiohead’s “Creep,” I was a 12-year-old at a cruise ship karaoke night. A small Asian man wielded the mic between his fists as he serenaded another man’s girlfriend. He did not possess the vocal power of Thom Yorke, but the light-drenched stage was heavy with an atmosphere of longing. “I want a perfect body/I want a perfect soul,” the man crooned. His soul crystallized into an orb of light that hung in the air for a minute before dissipating. After the last chord, he retreated to his table in the corner while the woman he sang to clapped politely. In Yorke’s “2021 RMX,” the palpability of the song’s mystery seems even more potent. With a droning synth and slowed vocals, the sound is updated for a new audiosphere, where electronic influences hybridize with old-school acoustics. Clocking in at nearly 10 minutes, the single climaxes in a bright glare near the middle before diluting into echoes by the end. Revisiting the moment on the cruise ship and the song, both seem to be artifacts of a bygone area, but the same core remains: the need to not only be visible, but also desired.
“could cry just thinkin about you” by Troye Sivan
Julian Hammond Santander, UTA Exposures Editor
The latest release from Australian popstar Troye Sivan, “could cry just thinkin about you,” is a spacey heartbroken diary entry following a weepy Sivan lost in the life he built to share with his first love. Following the unraveling of their intertwined lives, everything in Sivan’s life reeks of his loss; there are few places to escape to, his work excluded. “Every line I write is something about you/Every book I read, I only read for you,” he sings in the chorus. The half-empty-home feeling reverb abruptly pulls back as Sivan is confronted by his own words: “I don’t know who I am with or without you.” The final chorus features spacious drums, turning his uncertainty about the man that remains into an anthem for the future. Desolation provides the blessing of rebirth. Turning the page at the end of a chapter, the rest of the book waits to be filled. The future is exciting, with Sivan — and all the rest of us — thrilled to keep writing the story.
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