Susan Behrends Valenzuela
August may have slipped away into a moment in time — and sipped away like a bottle of wine — but that doesn’t mean August releases have to! If you feel like refreshing your playlists, here’s a round-up of singles that came out last month, from K-pop to country to DnB.
“Coastin” by Victoria Monét
Isabella Armus, Deputy Arts Editor
Summer, sex and synths — it must be a new Victoria Monét track. For the past few years, she’s been focusing on her solo career after penning monster hits for artists such as Ariana Grande and Ciara. Exemplified by her 2020 EP “Jaguar,” Monét’s distinct sound has been blossoming. The streak isn’t stopping with her new late summer single “Coastin.” Dripping with slinky riffs and velvety percussion, Monét spells out her desires. Demonstrating confident autonomy over her body, she confides in the chorus that she can “make it go North, South, East, West coast,” creating a playful innuendo on the track’s title. This isn’t your grandma’s R&B though; the song’s funk-inspired riffs and chilled-out bassline ensure the lyrics never fall into hokey territory. The single feels modern throughout, proving that if anyone can make summer last just a little bit longer, it’s Victoria Monét.
“Buzz” by PANTHEPACK
Jennifer Ren, Performing Arts Editor
Up-and-coming hip-hop group PANTHEPACK’s third single, “Buzz,” is a surprising listen, with a catchy chorus that will give you stuck-song syndrome. Revolving around synth drums, the exhilarating beats and fierce lyrics contrast with the cartoon-like teaser video. Launched under Jackson Wang’s record label Team Wang, PANTHEPACK includes Wang, singer-songwriter Karencici, hip-hop artist ICE and producer J.Sheon. The song reflects the group’s authentic and sometimes hardcore style. “Buzz,” sung in both English and Chinese, is full of empowering messages of self-affirmation that encapsulate the team’s ambition. When Wang sings huskily, “Tell them haters that we made it / From the ground we levitated we made it,” it is clear just how far they have come — the filtering effect on “made it,” emphasizes that they have, in fact, made it. With the quartet’s shared Chinese heritage, they sprinkle Mandarin lyrics throughout the song, weaving their culture into the music. Especially notable is Karencici’s melodic rap, whose laid-back cadence makes you groove. The pulsing track melds polytropic flows with dense and rhythmic beats, resulting in a party atmosphere that contrasts with Wang’s latest romantic, melancholic “Drive You Home.” Much like Wang himself, PANTHEPACK not only woos listeners with their distinct charm but also ignites listeners’ curiosity about this new hip-hop group’s future.
“Just for me” by PinkPantheress
Yas Akdag, Music Editor
Until a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea who PinkPantheress was. But that was all before PinkPantheress’ latest single “Just for me” exploded on TikTok. Leading into the chorus, she sings, “I’m obsessed with you in a way I can’t believe / When you wipe your tears, do you wipe them just for me?” The song is an instant earworm crafted by British electro-pop producer Mura Masa, who was behind the hit song “Love$ick” featuring A$AP Rocky. Together with PinkPantheress, the pair bring back DnB – drum and bass – a British genre heard at clubs and raves. “Just for me” sticks to the rules of the genre: the song consists of a simple looped bassline and drum beat, accompanied by light acoustic guitar and ambient synths that swell and swirl across the sonic field. With a short runtime of 1 minute and 55 seconds, it’s no surprise this song has now been used in over 1.5 million TikTok videos and racked up millions of streams. PinkPantheress is certainly an artist to watch in the coming months.
“Paint Me Naked” by Ten (NCT)
Alexandra Chan, Managing Editor
In an interview with Dive Studios, Ten shared that his third solo release, “Paint Me Naked,” was the first song he’d had creative control over. Following two emotional and gentle releases, the self-proclaimed “alternative pop-rock” track is most easily summed up as fun. While the verses are light, highlighting his vocals, the choruses pack more punch. Driven by distorted electric guitar and a bouncy beat, the chorus compels you to get up and dance — a consequence of Ten’s dancing background. It’s clear Ten is having fun with his comeback: wearing loud and colorful outfits in the music video to complement his bright and dynamic choreography. “Paint me Naked” is supporting evidence that Ten’s solo releases are reliable and of great quality.
“How Can You Live If You Can’t Love How Can You If You Do” by Wednesday
Ana Cubas, Arts Editor
Yes, I know this single was released in late July. But Wednesday’s sophomore album, “Twin Plagues,” was released in August, and I was reminded of just how graceful this track is. The group’s shoegaze-tinged sound takes on a country twang with “How Can You Live…,” a Big Star-sounding ballad of love and loss. Lead singer Karly Hartzman’s voice flips, dips and weeps in an unhurried, cathartic manner, melting into the pedal steel guitar-graced melody. For a track so subdued, “How Can You Live…” holds as much emotion as it has words in the title. Hartzman sings, “Rooms would look much better if they had you standin’ in them / Jealous of the rooms whose floors can feel your weight upon them.” The lyrics are intimate and surreal, encapsulating a whimsical haze of emotional vulnerability. Listen to this track — you’ll see why it’s an honorary August mention.
“Butter (Remix)” by BTS ft. Megan Thee Stallion
Annie Williams, Contributing Writer
Resident hot girl Megan Thee Stallion has teamed up with global sensation BTS on a remix of the latter’s hit summer song “Butter.” Amidst recent claims that her label, 1501 Certified Entertainment, was preventing the release of new music, Megan sought emergency relief from Texas courts to put out the track, which was granted. The vocals seem rimmed with gold as the group’s members utilize their trademark high range, which contrasts against beaming synths and a bouncing beat. As a queen of the summer song, Megan slots naturally into the sunny glow of BTS’ groove, contributing a mid-song rap and a later subtle vocal accompaniment. She delivers her verse over a pulsing rhythm, declaring herself “Houston’s finest” and “smooth like cocoa butter.” It is evident her signature rap blends perfectly with BTS’ lush stylings. The “Butter” remix marks further progress for BTS’ integration into the Western music landscape. Their collaborations with the likes of Steve Aoki, Halsey, Ed Sheeran and Nicki Minaj are testaments to their success so far; there is more to look forward to from them in the future.
“justified” by Kacey Musgraves
Elizabeth Moshkevich, Contributing Writer
Kacey Musgraves released the music video for her new single, “justified,” this past week, and it immediately got me in my feelings. Approaching her fourth studio album, the six-time Grammy-winning country star took a sharp turn away from her thematic lowkey country ballads like “Rainbow,” “Star-Crossed” or “Space Cowboy.” On “justified,” she transitions into a more upbeat and rhythmic yet still easygoing country-pop sound that will make listeners nostalgic and reflective. The chorus itself is fun and catchy, despite the lyrics’ self-assuredness, as Musgraves experiences the tribulations of heartbreak. She sings, “If I cry just a little, and I laugh in the middle, and then I change my mind,” with a sweet assertiveness mixed with a tinge of longing, highlighting her ability to convey important messages through her words, compelling tone and cadence. This is not the first time she has done so — she employs a similar dynamic between her lyrics and vocals in “Star-Crossed.” But in “Justified,” she offers the listener something new by fusing this dichotomy with a new genre and stepping out of her comfort zone.
LO$ER=LO♡ER” by TOMORROW X TOGETHER
Alexandra Chan, Managing Editor
“LO$ER=LO♡ER” is the electrifying lead single on TXT’s latest repackaged album “The Chaos Chapter: FIGHT OR ESCAPE.” Drums crash and basses riff to trigger listeners’ memories of their middle school emo phase. The music video is also reminiscent of the 2000s pop-punk craze: TXT don torn black outfits, dark eye makeup and windswept hair. The choreography involves mic stands and the back of a flatbed truck careening through the countryside. How could one not be reminded of Green Day? TXT continues to grow their youthful punky sound as “LO$ER=LO♡ER” follows their last title track “1×0=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You),” where the band uses hand-held microphones to sing about the desire to be loved. This new track, however, is about fighting for their love. “I say run,” they roar as the chorus kicks in and “run” from this world together; even if they appear as losers in the world’s eyes, they want to be lovers to the ones they hold dear. TXT is unafraid to embody young, agonizing love and to embrace the emotions that resonate with their fans.
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