Listen To This: Cola Morgan on the trials and tribulations of dating in the city

Listen to this week’s most notable singles from Zack Keim, Foo Fighters and more.


Susan Behrends Valenzuela

(Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

To close out the semester, this week’s edition of Listen To This features singles from veteran artists like Foo Fighters, to up-and-coming acts like Cola Morgan. Read on for songs to add to your summer 2023 playlists.

“Care If You Could” by Cola Morgan

Sandy Battulga, Music Editor

Indie sleaze is making a comeback, and Cola Morgan is more than ready. 

Formerly known as paperdreams, Morgan, a film production student at NYU, has released “Care If You Could,” the first single from his rebrand. From a guitar riff reminiscent of the one in “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” by The 1975 to lyrics that muse over a toxic relationship, the track is sure to please fans of the band.

The music video follows Morgan around as he sings about a fickle love interest who seems to be self-contradictory at every turn: “You say it’s late and that I should leave / But you won’t stop kissing me / Cause nothing with you’s ever like it seems / You disagree just to disagree.” There are shots that feature Morgan doing instantly recognizable lower-Manhattan-breakup things like taking shots of Fireball in Washington Square Park or using a fire escape to make a quick getaway from a lover’s apartment.

With a stickiness that resembles the sounds of COIN and Owl City, the chorus of “Care If You Could” is what makes the track a complete earworm: “Cause you wanna break up but you want me to come through / And you want a complex guy, one you can see through / You wanna be better but you hate being good / You long for the love but you wouldn’t care if you could.”

“Better Days” by Zack Keim

By Ethan Beck, Staff Writer

Zack Keim sings “I’m too young to feel this old” on his new song “Better Days,” just a hint of the nostalgic vibe in the track. “Better Days” is a bright, memory-inducing indie-pop single from the youngest veteran of the Pittsburgh music scene. Known originally as the frontman for bluesy garage-rock quartet Nox Boys, Keim has spent the past few years releasing a solo folk album and moving to Washington D.C. right before COVID-19. Now, at 26 years old, he seems refocused and inspired.

“Better Days” is his strongest song in ages, full of relatable and gritty imagery in the lyrics — unpaid parking meters, chipped teeth, cold coffee — and sparkling production work from Matt Costa. “Better Days” sounds like a Peter Bjorn and John song that’s been in a time capsule since the late 2000s. If it had come out 20 years ago, it would be associated today with low-budget rom-com trailers, Myspace and iPod commercials. In 2023, though, “Better Days” works as a wistful throwback, both familiar and infectious.

“Rescued” by Foo Fighters

Katherine Manatos, Contributing Writer

Foo Fighters released its first new single since the devastating loss of Taylor Hawkins, the band’s drummer, about a year ago. “Rescued” is intended as the first single from the band’s upcoming album “But Here We Are,” which is set to drop on June 2.

Instrumentally, the single reminisces of a classic Dave Grohl track, with contrasting guitars, punching drums and melodically strained screaming. However, the song’s main purpose is to confront the deeper themes Foo Fighters experienced amid the aftermath of this tragedy. Beginning with “It came in a flash / It came out of nowhere / It happened so fast / And then it was over,” it is heartbreakingly apparent what the track is about, setting an honest tone for what the band will be exploring in “But Here We Are.” Grohl cleverly utilizes bouts of repetition, screaming the lines, “I’m just waiting to be rescued” and “Rescue me tonight” in an emphasis of the grief the musicians have felt over the sudden passing of their bandmate.

While the song is evidently personal, it seems Foo Fighters is not just alluding to the band members’ own pains, but is crying out to the universalities of these devastating realities. “Rescued” sets an explicit stage for what fans can expect from “But Here We Are,” allowing Foo Fighters an outlet to both call attention to what happened and openly mourn together. 

“Alone (with Nicki Minaj)” by Kim Petras and Nicki Minaj

Ana Marks, Contributing Writer

Following her 2023 Grammy win, Kim Petras released the third single off her highly anticipated album. Clues on TikTok led fans to believe that Petras’ new song would feature a fan-favorite artist, which many correctly guessed would be Nicki Minaj. The partnership seems to have produced mixed results, if “Alone” is any indication.

The catchy chorus sung by Petras, along with Minaj’s verse, are the only parts of the new single that seem to secure it the “song of the summer” status that Petras claims it has. The use of the “Better Off Alone” Eurodance style sample proved to be a success and makes it stand out from other pop tracks being released today. But, it isn’t quite as successful in inspiring the 2010s nostalgia it sets out to do with its usage of last decade’s EDM-infiltrated pop music trend. The track’s instrumentals are almost entirely from Alice Deejay’s original song, “Better Off Alone,” with the only new contribution being a more trap-like beat. The addition of the electronic drum in the back only made the single lose even more potential originality. 

Petras’ light bubblegum-pop vocals are, admittedly, infectious as she sings, “I’ve been tryna give it to you all night / What’s it gonna take to get you all alone? / I just want you here by my side,” a nod to the chorus of the sampled track. Additionally, Minaj’s verse rises to the challenge, standing out thanks to its melodic flow.

“Mermaids” by Florence + the Machine

Afnan Abbassi, Staff Writer

The latest addition to Florence + the Machine’s “Dance Fever: Complete Edition” album, “Mermaids” portrays the fear and admiration that the song’s narrator feels toward the mythical creature and what it represents. The echo in lead singer Florence Welch’s voice fuses with dreamy piano arpeggios and a steady, yet unsettling, trumpet-sounding instrumental. 

Lyrically, there is an unnatural clash between the glamorous  outward perception of a mermaid and the concealed viciousness of her true personality: “And with your mermaid hair and your teeth so sharp / You crawled from the sea to break the sailor’s heart.” The latter sentiment appears to dominate as the song nears its end, with the beat of the trumpet slowing down and intruded by a louder beat. A sense of confusion is brought into the track too, with references to things like the rainy English countryside, drunken parties and Britney Spears. Even so, there is a consistent chorus enunciating the “cheerful oblivion” that is permanently present. 

Contact the music desk at [email protected].