A mere glimpse of Justin Timberlake dressed as a rural woodsman in the trailer for his forthcoming album, Man of the Woods, prompted accusations of “[w]hite colonialist fantasies” and pandering to Trump’s America. The Memphis-born artist’s foray into what his record label describes as “the sounds of traditional American rock,” however, could be interpreted as a return to his roots. He’s been setting the stage for it since at least 2015, when he performed with Nashville crooner Chris Stapleton and even cracked the country radio charts with his single “Drink You Away.”
Music (#1–10 of 519)
Even the resilience of retroism was, this year, tinged with the irony of watching those not knowing the past being doomed to repeat it. But in a grasping-at-straws moment, grim reality checks, bubblicious-pop contraptions, stripped-down folk-soul, and, yes, Old Music 2.0 seemed to coexist on a playlist sending signals of life from the Upside Down, or at least one designed to help us feel some type of way. So even though, as our list of the year’s top singles reveals, we more often than not had to travel all the way to Japan and England to satisfy our memories of hip-thrusting better days that we may never see return, the pleasure of the perfect three- or four-minute escape will never be quashed. Though we’re at the point where even Katy Perry knows we’re all metaphorically in chains.
- birds of chicago
- cardi b
- carly rae jepsen
- Childish Gambino
- craig finn
- father john misty
- hercules and love affair
- hurray for the riff raff
- Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
- katy perry
- kendrick lamar
- lil uzi vert
- luke james
- mondo grosso
- Rodney Crowell
- sheer mag
- st. vincent
- taylor swift
Icelandic pop goddess Björk has released what is, perhaps, her most melodic song in years with “Blissing Me,” the second single from her forthcoming album Utopia. A thematic descendant of the artist’s 1995 electronic hymn “Headphones,” the track is composed of a series of verses but no traditional hook, as Björk sings of trading MP3s with a fellow “music nerd” over a spare arrangement of harp and digital programming. The music and vocals grow more intricate as she becomes increasingly filled with doubt: “My woe and longing are too visceral/Did I just fall in love with love?”
Just a week before his ninth album, Revival, is set to be released, Eminem is finally giving us a preview of his first solo effort in four years. Produced by Rick Rubin, “Walk on Water” features a sparse arrangement of keyboards and strings and a gospel-influenced hook courtesy of Beyoncé. The single is both contemplative and combative, with Em offering a glimpse into his creative process: “The rhyme has to be perfect, the delivery flawless/And it always feels like I’m hittin’ the mark/’Til I go sit in the car and pick it apart.” The rapper chronicles his battles with success, drug addition, and inevitable “sales decline,” growing more bellicose as he declares he’ll be the one to decide when he takes his final bow. Even at 45, Eminem admits he’s still “at times juvenile,” eschewing political correctness with epithets like “retarded” and boasts about his writing credits (“Bitch, I wrote ’Stan’!”).
The moment the teaser for Taylor Swift’s new music video for “...Ready for It?” dropped earlier this week, fans began dissecting the merely 15-second clip and spinning elaborate theories. Her nude bodysuit could be a response to Kanye West’s “Famous” video! The copious lightning featured in the video must be a reference to the artwork for ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris’s single “This Is What You Came For,” which Swift co-wrote under the pseudonym Nils Sjoberg (who, along with the Old Taylor, is now dead)!
The new music video for St. Vincent’s “Los Ageless,” the second single from her upcoming album, MASSEDUCTION, is a vibrant, sci-fi satire of Hollywood superficiality. The video, directed by Willo Perron in partnership with Red Bull Music, finds singer-songwriter Annie Clark going to the extreme in her quest for Tinseltown perfection, enduring an ectoplasmic pedicure, swallowing slug sushi, and, in a nod to a scene from Terry Gilliam’s dystopian 1985 film Brazil, getting skin-stretching plastic surgery.
“The Gate,” the first single from Björk’s follow-up to 2015’s Vulnicura, was scheduled to premiere next week, but according to a post on the Icelandic artist’s Facebook page today, she was “too excited to wait” and took to Twitter to announce a “midnight treat.” (The bump might have been a preemptive move, as the track leaked online just a few hours later.)
The latest piece in the surprisingly swift rollout of Taylor Swift’s Reputation is the album’s opening track, “...Ready for It?” The release comes just one week after the music video for lead single “Look What You Made Me Do,” which dropped just days after the song’s premiere and broke Adele’s record the most views on YouTube in 24 hours.
“Um, I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative?” says one Taylor Swift to a dozen-plus others at the end of her decadent new music video for “Look What You Made Me Do.” The video is an expression of melodramatic outrage tinged with the macabre that offers a better indication that Swift is in on the joke than the song itself does.
Last week, Taylor Swift sent shockwaves through the Twitterverse when she scrubbed her social media accounts, prompting fans to speculate that the country singer turned pop star was preparing to make headlines for something other than the liberal use of the word “ass” in a courtroom. Then, on Wednesday, Swift posted a series of short, cryptic videos of a snake on her Instagram account, followed by the announcement of Reputation, the long-awaited follow-up to 2014’s blockbuster 1989.