Pop Music Roundup #001

Pop Music Roundup is a recap of the latest releases in pop music published twice a month. It’s written by someone who has spent most of his life listening to, talking about, and dissecting Top 40 hits and has no real say in any of this.

Bebe Rexha: All Your Fault: Pt. 1 (EP)

My first question is whether or not this is an EP. I’m considering it one mostly because of the “Pt. 1” in the title. Even with six tracks it’s a mere nineteen minutes. Also, was there any promo for this? The only reason I found it was because I saw a friend of mine listening to it in Spotify’s friend feed.

Regardless, it’s just okay. It’s classic Bebe (has she even been around enough to have a “classic Bebe” anything?): Rap-tinged pop with radio-friendly choruses. Simple, singsong lyrics. More drug references than you can count. Plenty of vocal ticks. The entire EP seems like a more condensed version of Tove Lo’s debut album Queen of the Clouds, which had its own fair share of hits and filler tracks.

My biggest peeve with this EP is the track ordering. The opening track, “Atmosphere,” is skippable. Bebe raps a little bit over a really slow beat and picks up the tempo in the chorus. You’ve heard it before. This should come after something high-tempo like the following track.

The highlight track, “I Got You,” which was released weeks ago, is by far the most fast-paced of the bunch. It’s been on my workout playlist for a while now, and I love running to it.

This video reminds me so much of Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much” video. Which is fine.

“Small Doses” is track three. It uses the trope of comparing a dangerous lover to a hard drug. It’s dubstep-y and sort of a slowed-down version of “I Got You.” I can picture the music video already.

Track 4, “F.F.F (feat. G-Eazy),” which stands for “Fuck Fake Friends,” has really great production and a snappy beat. It has the classic pre-chorus → chorus → rap verse → chorus layout. It will do well on the radio, as it should. It was crafted to do so.

“Gateway Drug,” track 5, is pretty much the sister track to “Small Doses.” Again, comparing someone to drugs.

The final track, “Bad Bitch (feat. Ty Dolla $ign),” pretty much sums up the entire EP. It attempts to paint Bebe Rexha as a bad bitch who loves drugs, rap verses, and safely manufactured pop. Which, I guess is accurate at this point.

Listen to: “I Got You”, “Small Doses”
Feel free to skip: Everything else.

Maggie Rogers: Now That The Light Is Fading (EP)

When I grow up I want to be Maggie Rogers. She seems so cool and confident in her work. She absolutely should be because this debut is phenomenal. Like, cause-Pharrel-to-cry-phenomenal.

It’s worth noting 3/5 of the EP was released as singles prior to the EP’s debut. So, if you’ve been following Maggie since that viral Pharrel video, you’ve probably heard most of this. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth revisiting as a whole.

It opens with “Color Song,” a simple and sweet a capella track that sounds like it was recorded in the woods on a hot summer night. It’s a cute intro that reminds me a whole lot of Bon Iver.

“Alaska,” the track that started it all, takes the coveted second-track spot. I love this song so much. Before it was officially released I was listening to unofficial snippets and recordings on Soundcloud. I was obsessed. It was unlike anything I was listening to at the time. It’s breathy and light in one moment and dark and bass-filled in the next. Oh, and she just made her television debut with it not long ago. She killed it, naturally.

Following a track like that would be hard. But Maggie makes it look easy with “ On + Off.” This one is much more electronic than the previous two. But the back-and-forth synths compliment the lyrics perfectly. The chorus is so, so catchy.

MUNA: About U (Album)

Speaking of great debuts, MUNA released their debut album back in February. l’ll be the first to admit I was late to the game in listening to it. It is phenomenal.

The lead single, “Loudspeaker” is such an empowering break-up anthem. The first time I heard it I stopped what I was doing and sent it to my friends. My favorite part about this track is the bridge, which is typically a hard sell to me with most pop songs. The lyrics, awesome key change, and breakdown blend so well and create this massive swell of emotion.

Another standout track, “I Know A Place,” reminds me of the first time I went to a gay bar. It talks about escaping to a place of safety in a scary world. Timely, right?

And I can tell/
When you get nervous/
You think being yourself/
Means being unworthy/
And it’s hard to love/
With a heart that’s hurting/
But if you want to go out dancing/ 
I know a place/
I know a place we can go/
Where everyone gonna lay down their weapon/

On “Crying On The Bathroom Floor,” which sounds like “Dancing On My Own” 2.0, hard synths make for a heavy-hitting bass that disguise this sad song as a crazy dance track. Don’t skip this one.

This album sounds like something out of an 80's movie’s credits. It’s dance-y breakup record that’s emotion-packed and lyrically wonderful. The songs blend so well from one to the next. Also, it reminds me of a more electronic version of Haim, which is great considering we still don’t have an album release date from them (I’m not bitter). Others might consider MUNA an Indie/Alternative band, but I think they have the chops to become a mainstream pop masterpiece.

Standout tracks: Loudspeaker, I Know A Place, Crying On The Bathroom Floor,

Lorde: Green Light (Single)

She’s baaaaaack. After what felt like forever, I’m so happy to have new music from Lorde that a) isn’t a collaboration and b) isn’t for a movie.

This is the first single in promotion for her sophomore album Melodrama, which Lorde’s (sort of) described as “meticulous pop.”

It’s an entirely different direction than her debut album, Pure Heroine. And that’s about the best I can do to describe it. It’s different. I’ll need to give it a few more spins until I can decide whether I love or even like it. Regardless, it makes me excited to see what else she puts out.

Oh, and don’t miss the video: