Singer and actress Olivia Rodrigo’s single “Driver’s License” broke streaming records and even inspired a Saturday Night Live sketch earlier this year. This month, she released her second No. 1 hit, “Good 4 U”, and her debut album, Sour, made its strong debut on streaming services. The opening of the album, “Brutal”, shows that Rodrigo is more than a one (or two) success wonder. On “Brutal,” she spits teenage disappointments amid heavy grunge guitar chords. âIf someone says to me again, ‘Enjoy your youth,’ I’ll cry,â she exclaims urgently.
“Sun Goes Down”, by Lil Nas X
Rapper Lil Nas X fiendishly sparked controversy earlier this year with his No.1 single, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”, and its corresponding music video, in which he was pictured doing a lap dance to Satan. “Sun Goes Down” shows a tender side of the Georgia rapper. On the song, he confronts his struggles with depression and shares his insecurities about his sexuality and skin color. The clip also contrasts with âMontero,â as a Lil Nas X in a white suit acts like a guardian angel to himself. “And I am happy by the fact / to have taken this leap, this leap of faith,” he concludes.
“Butter”, by BTS
South Korean boy band BTS brings energy to their latest single, âButterâ. It’s a dynamic pop tune, sung entirely in English, that lets Usher down and encourages fans to dance with: “Side step, right, left to my beat.” âButterâ broke the group’s records, achieving 20.9 million global streams on day one of its release, which was the highest total of Day One streams in Spotify history.
“We’re Between”, by Modest Mouse
Pacific Northwest rockers Modest Mouse will release their seventh full-length album, The golden coffin, June 25. The album’s first anthemic single, “We Are Between,” describes the band in its most existential form. âSomewhere between the dust and the stars,â singer Isaac Brock sings in the chorus amid nimble percussion and a buzzing guitar line.
“In Pink (feat. Mndsgn)”, by Chai
Since their debut in 2017, Japanese band Chai have become known for their rampant pop rock. Their third record, Wink, establishes the quartet as more genre-defying, as they explore elements of hip-hop and R&B. “In Pink” expresses the playful character of the group, as an elastic bass line propels a groovy ode to the color pink.
“Bodybag”, by Chloe Moriondo
18-year-old singer-songwriter Chloe Moriondo began posting videos of herself performing on YouTube in 2014, and she has since garnered over 3 million subscribers on the platform. -form. On his first album on a major label, Blood rabbitMoriondo’s spirited, majority songs have pop punk choruses and moody guitar riffs. âBodybagâ confronts the conflicting feelings caused by a crush on someone. “I want to kiss you on the cheeks, but I also want to hit your teeth,” Moriondo sings in the second verse.
“I Like Dat”, by T-Pain and Kehlani
In 2007, the extraordinary rapper and Auto-Tune user T-Pain released a track dedicated to flirting on the dance floor, “Buy UA Drank (Shawty Snappin ‘)”. Now he’s created a reworked version of the hit with R&B singer Kehlani, written from a woman’s perspective. She asserts her independence on the track, singing softly: “I am not the passenger, I am the pilot / You could ride but you are not driving.”
“Homegrown Tomatoes”, by Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert and Jon Randall
A series of intimate writing sessions in Marfa, Texas between country musicians Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert and Jon Randall over the past few years has resulted in Marfa bands, a raw collection of demo-style recordings. The stripped-down nature of the album’s intricate finger pickings and impromptu sides evoke desert heat and sky. “Homegrown Tomatoes” is a cheerful campfire song reminiscent of the song of the same name by country folk artist Guy Clark, with ad-libbing and Lambert laughs throughout.
“Perfect Timing”, by YG, Mozzy and Blxst
“Perfect Timing” is the second offering from rappers YG and Mozzy, the recently released collaborative album, Community service. During an infectious guitar loop, the two rappers recruit another West Coast artist Blxst to reminisce about their beginnings and share their hopes for the future without ever losing confidence. “The timing was perfect / But as humble as I am, I deserve it a bit,” Blxst sings in the chorus.
“Already there”, by Joan Armatrading
Since releasing her debut album in 1972, British musician Joan Armatrading has maintained her introspective writing and soulful vocals while navigating a variety of genres. His work ranges from folk and rock to blues and jazz. On June 18, she will release her 22nd studio album, Consequences, and released the spacious and piano-powered “Already There” as the album’s first single.
“My Life”, by J. Cole, 21 Savage and Morray
May has been a busy month for J. Cole. The North Carolina rapper teased his sixth studio album, Low season, since 2018, and it was finally released this month, along with a new short film, Applying the Pressure: The Off-Season Documentary. The news also broke that he had signed a deal to play professionally with the BBC Rwanda Patriots in the Basketball Africa League. Unlike most of Cole’s previous efforts, Low season is full of guest appearances from other artists, including the highlight “My Life,” which features another artist from Fayetteville Morray throughout and rapper 21 Savage on the second verse. The track was one of four new J. Cole tracks to appear in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and Low season debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.
“Seeing Green”, by Nicki Minaj, Drake and Lil Wayne
Some of rapper Nicki Minaj’s most beloved music exists on her 2009 mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty. This month it became available on streaming services for the first time, with three newly recorded tracks. âSeeing Greenâ is the latest result of the long-standing collaboration between Minaj, Young Money mentor Lil Wayne and label mate Drake. On a looping excerpt from singer Heather Headley’s 2006 R&B song, “In My Mind,” the three rappers boast of their success and wealth, as the title suggests.
“Don’t Go Put My Wishes In My Head”, by Torres
Epic synthesizers and explosive percussion form a sound wall around Mackenzie Scott, better known as Torres, on âDon’t Go Puttin Wishes In My Headâ. âFor a while I was sinking / But from now on I swear I swim,â the New York-based musician wholeheartedly sings over the arena-ready rock jam. The song will appear on Torres’ fifth album, More thirsty, released on July 30.
“Woman,” by Little Simz, starring Cleo Sol
On âWomanâ, rapper Little Simz pays tribute to the women in her life and around the world, from Ghana to Jamaica, via Brooklyn and her hometown of London. The sweet jam features vibrant percussion and robust orchestral arrangements. Little Simz enlisted the help of fellow London singer Cleo Sol to add her feathered falsetto to the chorus. “Woman” to appear on Little Simz’s next album Sometimes I could be introverted, which will be released in September.
“As Before”, by Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen
Two powers of independent rock unite on “Like I Used To”, the first collaboration of Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen. The pair’s electrifying harmonies echo among rattling drums and stadium-sized synths, as they together remember: “Sleep late like before / Cross my fingers like before.”
Listen to the full playlist on Spotify here.
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