Friday 19 April 2024

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE FORTNIGHT 19/04/2024: Drake, Willow, Sia and more...

I discuss Drake's new diss track, Willow's new jaunty jazz single and Sia's surprise new belter. Plus, new tracks from The Fever Haze, Action Forever, Strawflower, Nick Hudson and Meghan Trainor/Jimmy Fallon. 


‘Push Ups (Drop And Give Me 50)’ – Drake

In case you’ve not been keeping up with the beef, Kendrick Lamar randomly decided to diss Drake and J Cole a few weeks ago in a guest verse on Future’s ‘Like That’. J Cole responded with a half-hearted diss track (which he has since humiliatingly apologised for and removed from streaming platforms). Now Drake, who was the main target of Kendrick’s diss, has decided to retaliate on ‘Push Ups’ – and he is not pulling any punches. Did he really just say ‘how the fuck you big steppin with a size 7 mens on’? I can see why everyone thought this was AI, because I don’t think Drake has ever delivered bars this savage before. And it’s not just Kendrick who is feeling Drake’s wrath – Rick Ross, Future and even poor Metro Boomin all get called out too. While Drake is still my least favourite artist of the ‘Big Three’, his pen can be the sharpest on the rare occasion that he’s not trying to write a pop hit. He also has experience getting in beefs, and is used to churning out songs at speed. This puts him in a strong position. I don’t know if Kendrick has it in him to one-up him. Not many rappers can (except maybe Pusha T, but that’s a sore subject…)

‘b i g f e e l i n g s’ – Willow

I haven’t checked in on Willow Smith for a while, but last time I did she was writing pop punk songs. Now she’s singing over erratic prog/jazz pianos, which is pretty much the opposite end of the musical spectrum. The track is lyrically about being overwhelmed by indescribable emotions, which it musically encapsulates by jumping from one wild piano riff to the next – each one creatively syncopated with Willow’s voice. Her pop punk songs were already decent, but this is a league above. I have this b i g f e e l i n g that her new album, Empathogen, is going to be nuts.

‘I Forgive You’ – Sia

I’ve always been impressed by Sia’s crazy voice, but it feels like she’s spent most of her career confining it to formulaic pop songs. This new song sees her truly letting loose. The instrumentation is nothing too special, but holy moley – her vocal performance here is so beautifully chaotic. Those long tortured wails in the verses have so much pain poured into them that I’m surprised she didn’t pass out. It’s one of those songs that leaves you sweating after because it’s so intense.

‘I Love It Here’ – The Fever Haze

This track sounds like if somebody Frankensteined together My Bloody Valentine and The Smashing Pumpkins. The vocals and the riffs have a Billy Corgan flavour, but it’s submerged in bewitching shoegazey effects. Lyrically, the song deals with the longing of being in a long distance relationship. It’s the perfect theme for a shoegaze song –  the vocals and guitars sound like they’re echoing out across the ocean to someone on the other side. It comes off the band’s latest album Moonbow.

‘In The Dead Of Night’ – Action Forever

Toronto indie funk band are back after ‘Loveless Love’ with another gloomy but groovy love song ‘In The Dead Of Night’ (which like the last song is also coincidentally about a LDR). I actually get New Romantic vibes from this one, albeit with slightly updated production. New new romantic? It’s got some fun synth sounds and guitar tones, the chorus is fanatastic and there’s even a brief playful key change towards the end.

‘Haunting of the Hollywood Hills’ – Strawflower

This bluesy riff is so addictive and I’m loving all the psychedelic instrumental jamming over the top. It’s lyrically themed around a spooky house party in which things start to turn weird and sinister, delivered with a subtle haunting echo. The LA band have a new album coming out soon titled Greetings From The Stardust Motel.

‘Khevsureti’ – Nick Hudson

I don’t know what the hell this is, but I’m very much intrigued. The track consists mostly of slow semi-dissonant swells of strings that are both beautiful and full of tension. Eventually some elongated Bowie-like vocals come in to add some extra drama: ‘todaaay I tooouched an iiiiicicle’. The strings then take an eerie turn at the end, accompanied by some menacing percussion, resulting in an unsettling climax. You probably won’t hear it on Radio 1 any time soon, but fans of late career Scott Walker and Bjork will likely be as captivated as I was. The track comes off the UK-Georgia experimental pop artist’s latest record Kanda Teenage Honey.  


‘Sweet Morning Heat’ – Meghan Trainor & Jimmy Fallon

So apparently there’s some Pop-Tart origin story movie out on Netflix and this is a song from the soundtrack. Regardless of whether it’s supposed to sound this cheesy, it has too many Jimmy Fallons and too many Meghan Trainors on it for my liking.