Listen To This: 100 gecs teams up with Skrillex on ‘Torture Me’

Read about this week’s most notable singles by David Byrne, Caroline Polachek and more.


Susan Behrends Valenzuela

(Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

“Torture Me” by 100 gecs featuring Skrillex

Ethan Beck, Contributing Writer

Over the last 10 years, Skrillex has been able to transform his status from being an Internet sensation on Beatport into a Grammy winner, a Justin Bieber collaborator and finally, an elder statesman of noisy, compelling dance music. As hyperpop mainstay 100 gecs makes the jump from viral oddities to one of the most fascinating acts currently working, their new collaboration with Skrillex, “Torture Me,” almost seems too easy. But what bonds 100 gecs and Skrillex is not just garish vocals and brash production — it’s both artists’ clear debt to bubblegum pop music. By taking catchy, prickly synthesizers for the verses and adding them to the infectious vocal melodies, “Torture Me” recalls the synthpop of the early 2010s with ease. By the end of the song, we’re given a classic Skrillex hook of metallic clangs and stuttering synths, making the lineage from dubstep to hyperpop self-evident in a matter of seconds. 

“The Fat Man’s Comin’” by David Byrne

Holden Lay, Staff Writer

The holiday season has officially begun and David Byrne has christened it with an ominous ode to Santa himself entitled “The Fat Man’s Comin.’” Unusually baroque for a Christmas song, the multi-part miniature epic — which is only available on Bandcamp — darts from style to style. It playfully ranges from a salsa-ish, güiro-led chorus, orchestral multi-octave flute section and a romping marching band-style trumpet and snare break. Byrne asserts his faith in the jolly gift-giver, singing, “Ev’rybody says that you can’t be real / People say it’s just my imagination / Ev’rybody claims that they don’t believe” and “His hair as white as the snow / The funky man with the fur trimmed collar / Comin’ in from the cold.” In typical Byrne fashion, it’s cheerful, irreverent and a little bit scary — he could not have been expected to drop a traditional Christmas song. Everything is tied together nicely by a charming DIY music video that features Byrne’s hand-drawn storyboards and an off-putting stock image of a Yeti. Every dollar put toward the track on Bandcamp goes to his nonprofit, Reasons to be Cheerful, which supports activists from across the world.

“Welcome To My Island” by Caroline Polachek

Yas Akdag, Music Editor

Caroline Polachek announced her forthcoming album, “Desire, I Want to Turn Into You,” with her bratty and sassy new single “Welcome To My Island.” A sonic departure from her recent releases, Polachek oscillates between operatic runs, spoken verses and infectious hooks. “Welcome to my island / See the palm trees wave in the wind / Welcome to my island / Hope you like me, you ain’t leavin,” she sings in a stuttered rhythm over sparkly arpeggiated synths, grand ’80s electric guitar and a snare-driven beat. While someone like Charli XCX might have sounded more convincing speak-singing than Polachek, it’s still an exciting stylistic shift for the electro-pop artist. On the third chorus, that slightly stiff, but nevertheless captivating guitar solo is played by Polachek herself, who does not consider herself a guitar player by any means. In an Instagram post, Polachek described “Welcome To My Island” as “the worthy soundtrack for an epic walk of shame” — consider listening to this next time you walk home at 9 a.m. wearing the same clothes as the night before.

“Pointless” by Lewis Capaldi

Paree Chopra, Staff Writer

Lewis Capaldi knows how to make and market his songs in both ear and eye-catching ways — he co-wrote with Ed Sheeran and seemingly leaked his own phone number to promote this song. But it’s his voice and the emotion it possesses that draws everyone in. “Pointless” is the latest single from his upcoming album “Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent,” which will be released on May 19 of next year. The single is a beautiful piano-led ballad where Capaldi’s raw vocals embrace the power of love and the way it lights up every moment of life — “From all my airs and graces / To the little things I do / Everything is pointless without you,” he sings. The strings and percussion naturally build up through the second verse, pushing the sentimentality of the song to portray how one person can change your world. In the same breath, Capaldi can mend your heart or break it with his lyrics, raspy vocals and elegant instrumentals — “Pointless” exemplifies just that. The bridge defines the wait for the love of your life as worth it, as he unleashes his voice’s power to reach a stunning falsetto, singing “I’ll wait for you / You’ll wait for me too.” A heartfelt reflection on the profoundness of moments, Capaldi prepares us for another epic album that we’re bound to fall in love with and cry to all at once.

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