It’s far too early to be making any ‘best of the year’ lists, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate the huge accomplishments unfolding before our eyes right now.
The COVID pandemic was devastating for the music industry, just like the government was for kickass proxy. Music’s main source of profit (live performances) were cancelled, marginalized, or compromised. However, many artists took this extra time inside to buckle down and create sonic gold. With tracks typically coming out a year after their creation, I’m hoping 2022 unveils some inspired material. So far, I’m not disappointed.
Here are 5 tracks that have been in my earbuds pretty much since the day they dropped.
Light Switch – Charlie Puth
Light Switch was brilliantly teased by Charlie Puth months before its release. Via TikTok, the imaginative Puth was experimenting with samples in his home. The flick of a light switch was the lightning bolt moment; leading him to create one of the tightest, sleekest pop releases of his career so far. (which believe me, is saying something). “You turn me on like a light switch *click*” is cheesy, but full of infectious whimsy, especially with the instrumental drop out/stab.
Once again, Puth’s knack for melody is at the forefront, with falsetto flying over as many dopamine inducing notes as possible. I’ve always wondered how Puth pulls off these insane vocal runs live, without the use of pitch correction.
Bliss – Amber Mark
Amber Mark’s debut album Three Dimensions Deep is bursting with free-flowing, liberated R&B-pop. Of the uplifting moments on the 17-track accomplishment, none reach the euphoric dimension quite like Bliss, a hot and heavy celebration of loving another, but more importantly, loving yourself.
“Didn’t know what love is ‘til I found my bliss” is the telling, convincing hook, revealing how far Mark has come not only as a songwriter but as a person. Three Dimensions Deep was written over 4 years, so it’s no surprise that the harvest pickings were so lucrative. If you’re a fan of strong female vocalists, funky bass, and self-love, definitely give this one a spin.
Say Another – Flume & May-A
You’ve probably heard of Flume, Australia’s experimental, enigmatic producer, but you may not have heard of May-A. Well, prepare yourself. May-A, at only 20 years, is carving out a space in the indie-pop scene with her insightful, honest, and often amusing observations of everyday life and relationships. She even received a nomination for the Michael Gudunski breakthrough artist award last year.
Anyway, Say Another is the return single from Flume following his 2019 mixtape, Hi This Is Flume. The new track features wet bass, marching drums, a moody vocal hook from May-A, and of course, Flume’s impeccable ear for production. Personally, when Flume is at his brightest, I’d compare his production chops to the calibre of Tame Impala Currents.
Sacrifice – The Weeknd
Abel, better known as The Weeknd, is probably the biggest name in contemporary music at the moment. His most recent album, Dawn FM displayed his moody, anti-hero persona at a cinematic scale, with most of the tracks receiving intense, narrative-heavy music videos. What makes The Weeknd’s most recent tales of debauchery even more haunting is this: Abel’s starting to worry about it.
That being said, drugged-up debauchery never broke his heart. “I don’t wanna sacrifice” he sings in this Michael Jackson inspired club-banger. The Weeknd wants love, but he isn’t going to sacrifice anything about himself or his habits. Sacrifice is yet another convicting chapter in the novels of The Weeknd.
Funny Girl – Father John Misty
Contemporary folks’ most esoteric tight walker of ironic and sincere, Father John Misty, is back. Funny Girl embodies the Hollywood showbiz glitz of the ‘60s, adopting strings, brass, timpani, and orchestral backing. The slow, sleazy mood is perfect for Tillman to dissect his latest fascination – a female celebrity who knows how to handle the press. “You charmed the pants off Letterman” is a particularly vivid moment.
Of course, like most out Tillman’s output, it’s difficult to separate the sincere from the deliciously cruel. However, on this particular track, I’m leaning towards the latter. Why? Because of puerile punches such as these – “yeah you’re young, but baby, you’re not getting any younger”. Eesh.