Pop Songs Gone Right With Maroon 5 — & Wrong With Noah Cyrus

After my first job MTV working as a music programmer, I can't stop trying to matchmake people with music they might like. So, I wrote a book called Record Collecting for Girls and started interviewing musicians. The Music Concierge is a column where I share music I'm listening to that you might enjoy, with a little context. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or leave me a comment below and tell me what you're listening to this week.
Maroon 5 ft. SZA "What Lovers Do"
This song is MY JAM (forceful all caps with a bro chest bump) so I have to talk about it, despite the cheesy Joseph Kahn (yes, Taylor Swift's guy) directed video. Maroon 5 have long been practicing some dark magic that makes Adam Levine's falsetto the catchiest thing you hear when you turn on the radio — possibly because it's the only falsetto you will hear. But the addition of SZA, whose album Ctrl is the best of the year and don't @ me to argue about it, elevates this song into a magical piece of perfection. I love songs that simply make me smile. This is one of those songs.
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BLVK JVCK f/Dyo "Mind Games"
So this is a track by a production duo, and the music is catchy. That's their specialty, and if the proof isn't in the pudding, ask Rihanna, DJ Khalid, Justin Bieber, or any of the pop stars they've created tracks for. What grabs my attention here, though are the vocals on the track by London singer Dyo. Funnily enough, she as a writing credit on "What Lovers Do," above, which I didn't know until I started Googling around to see where she's been all my life. Guys, I think Dyo's aesthetic may just be my aesthetic. It is not often that this musical kismet happens, but when it does you don't try to go against the stars; I'll be keeping an eye on Dyo.
TORRES "Skim"
I'm listening to the full album (hear it on Spotify), which just came out on September 29, rather than just this track. Mackenzie Scott, who performs at TORRES, has evolved into exploring art rock as a personal statement and I can't get enough of her. She's got a Bowie-esque vibe, mixed with a dash of PJ Harvey's sexuality and the self-aware but ironic songwriting style of Lou Reed. A lot of artists release a first album that blows everyone away and leaves them nowhere to go but flat...or down. Listening to Three Futures affords the rare opportunity to hear an artist truly evolve into the next, and more powerful, era of their talent.
Noah Cyrus f/ XXTENTACION “Again”
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The song itself is great, very moody and sulky. The video is ideally shot in a graveyard because Noah's love is dead and that's where we're at. That said, I want to talk about the XXXTENTACION feature on this track. You are undoubtedly aware of the allegations of domestic abuse against him and (trigger warning on the link that follows) exactly how severe they are. Noah is far from the first pop star to have someone problematic on their track, see also Katy Perry with Migos and Lady Gaga with R. Kelly for two of the biggest controversies in recent memory. These two choose the most commonly used routes to fix the issue: Katy replaced Migos with Nicki Minaj, and Gaga straight up buried her duet and scrapped the video for it. Noah undoubtedly recorded this track well before the claims against XXXTENTACION were fully reported on. He is not in the video. But it is problematic that he's still on the track. I'd love to know if this was a decision made by her label for her. Despite being a Cyrus, she is a new artist. Either way, that's a bad look on a good song.
The Horrors “Something To Remember Me By”
Wow. Just wow all the way around. This song is gorgeous, and this video is it's own little Black Mirror episode. This band has long been both phenomenal and bleak, but now that they're out there raging against the commodification of art, multi-national corporations, the pharmaceutical industry, cable news, and merchandising deals within the context of a perfect pop song that wouldn't be out of place soundtracking Stranger Things? I'm obsessed.
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