I hate to say it, but each other’s all we got.
“I Think She Like Me,” Rick Ross ft. Ty Dolla $ign (JH)
“Pure Comedy,” Father John Misty (EJ)
At last, we see some schism! After weeks of bland agreement, Jake and I ventured down wildly different avenues this week for both our weekly noms and honorable mentions. This is good; variety is essential. It will, however, provide our first true test: can we come to a respectful agreement on who wins the week?
From Jake, regarding his pick:
I’m a sucker for a good sample on a hip hop song. Rick Ross tapped “People Make the World Go Round” by The Stylistics for this one. Pair that with the classic video of an overweight rapper partying with models in a pool and you have my winner of the week and nomination for Belt Holder.
Rick Ross has been a ubiquitous staple in hip hop for the last decade. The Miami rapper knows who he is and has certainly perfected his craft. His latest release features a great hook from Ty Dolla $ign, high-level production by Rozay’s own Maybach Music, and expert use of the aforementioned Stylistics sample. All in all, an offering of the highest quality from Rick Ross da Boss.
If this song is missing anything, it’s obviously that classic Rick Ross “hugghhh.” Despite missing that quintessential grunt, there is some solid fire being spit on these verses. As a teaser for Ross’s upcoming Rather You Than Me, this track serves its purpose with expert efficiency.
Father John Misty is once again doing Father John Misty things.
The ever-outspoken alter ego of former Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman is back with the first release from his latest album, Pure Comedy, its title track. This song is everything FJM: politically charged, topical, lilting vocal melodies with lyrics of a certain rambling quality, and a bit self-indulgent. The six-and-a-half minute length is gaudy, and the song’s content may be hard to swallow for some. It’s harsh, judgmental, and very on-the-nose for this moment in our nation’s history (especially when accompanied by its video).
Musically, the song changes tempo and meter like Willie Nelson on a normal day for Willie Nelson. The piano is simple yet effective. It’s strongest suit is its dynamic shifts. The song builds, swells, hushes, and pauses at precisely the correct moments.
To truly appreciate this song, IMO, one must be familiar with the persona that is Father John Misty. I was fortunate to see him live at a couple festival performances a few summers back. His stage presence is larger than life, sauntering from corner to corner with an arrogant air. He almost scoffs at his audience while delivering his diatribe. Yet somehow, through all his snark, he delivers an incredibly intimate and vulnerable performance. He bleeds on the stage just enough to assure you that he does feel, he does care, he does just want to love and be loved.
And that is why this song is so very Father John Misty. After spending over six minutes hammering the ills of mankind, from a whisper to a scream, we are left with some final solace: “I hate to say it, but each other’s all we got.” Whether you find the sentiment hopeful or damning, that’s up to you.
The start contrast between these tracks makes it somewhat difficult to compare the two. Jake put it best: The Rick Ross is fast food, while the Father John Misty is a sit-down meal. “I Think She Like Me” will surely be on many a party playlist in the year to come; it’s familiar, has more than enough flavor to keep your interest, and it’ll sustain your needs. “Pure Comedy,” on the other hand, is a lot to chew on. It takes some serious time and consideration to appreciate all of its nuance and preparation, and there are certain aspects that might not be pleasing. But the payoff is great.
Each approach has its merits, for sure. The question is, what are we looking for in a winner? This week, which has seen all manner of social unrest and division in the real world, it’s tempting to swallow the easy pill. Music can be a great distraction from life; it’s supposed to be fun, right? But as much as we might yearn for an easy escape, in trying times it’s essential that we take a long, sober look at ourselves and how we relate to and treat one another. And if one message should win out, it’s that we’ve got to stick together; after all, each other’s all we’ve got.
Your weekly winner,
Father John Misty ::: Pure Comedy
“I Remember This Place Being Bigger,” Dead Man Winter
- The latest from the Trampled by Turtles frontman’s solo project, Duluth’s own Dave Simonett combines rich lyrical imagery with a warm yet haunting instrumental tone on this track (not to mention some impressive production value). Close your eyes and you might find yourself on the shores of a frozen Minnesota lake, surrounded by snow, trees, and painful memories.
“Look At What The Light Did Now,” Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White
- This delightful little duet has been stuck in my head all week. I really enjoy the blending of each singer’s unique vocal timbre. I don’t know who these two are–their only release is an album of covers, this one of a song originally from Little Wings and Feist–but I’ll be keeping an eye out for more in the future.
“Big on Big,” Migos
- The Migos are getting tons of buzz in and around hip hop right now, riding the wave of success Atlanta-based artists have seen in the last year. The obvious choice from Culture would have been “Bad and Boujee,” but for my money, I’ll take this deeper cut. Producer, pianist, fellow Atlantan, and frequent Gucci Mane collaborator Zaytoven lays the beat for this track.
“Run,” Bell Biv Devoe
- Yes, a song from Bell Biv DeVoe is one of my favorites in the year 2017. I’m as surprised as you are. This whole album is like a time machine back to 1992, and a great reminder of how excellent R&B was in the 90s. This track features a very well-executed Notorious B.I.G. sample that is, dare I say…(don’t do it) (seriously don’t) (STAAHHHPPP) (you’re gonna do it, aren’t you)…JUICY. (Yeah, the sample is from “Hypnotize,” but juicy is a better descriptor than hypnotizing.)
“High Ticket Attractions,” The New Pornographers
- This song is fast paced and full of arpeggios and neat vocal harmonies and overall just pretty fun. My playlist for songs in consideration for this week was over 90 minutes, and any of a dozen songs could have ended up in this spot. The energy this song brings propels it slightly to the head of the pack.
“I’m Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner),” Japandroids
- I’m not sure what it is about this song that does it for me but I dig it. All the static really adds to the sad tone and it builds really well.
“13,” Allan Rayman
- This is another recommendation from my friend Kylie. Here’s what she had to say:
“The raspiness of Rayman’s vocals fused with his mesmerizing melody is pure sex. I’m not sure where the hell this guy came from, but I’m really excited to see what he puts out this year.”
- EDM Steel Drum? EDM Steel Drum.
“Run Up,” Major Lazer ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR and Nicki Minaj
- If pop music was a game of basketball and I was coaching a team in a 3 on 3 pop music tournament, Major Lazer, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and Nicki Minaj is definitely a threesome I’d be happy to have as a team.
“Move Your Body (Single Mix),” Sia*
- This came out earlier in the year and I missed it, but it’s legit so I’m including it now. I’d imagine we’ll be hearing more of this song.
*Editors note: While this is a new remix, “Move Your Body” was released over a year ago and is (in my mind) old news. There will be a discussion regarding the appropriateness of song remixes as “new music” moving forward.
Showdown for the Belt
As much uncertainty as we had in picking a weekly winner this time around, there was little debate over whether the belt would pass. Week three saw no clear, smack you in the face, shake what your momma gave you, wham bam thank you ma’am, runaway winner. While there was lots of quality to be consumed and an excellent playlist generated from this week’s offerings, the fire emoji heat of “Hot Thoughts” could not be extinguished.
Spoon remains your 2017 SOTY Championship Belt Holder. Those hot thoughts keep melting my mind. Can I get a hell yeah?