Lykke Li "deep end"
I think I learned more about Lykke Li's life from one mention in Rolling Stone's profile of Harry Styles last year than I have ever known about her, outside of what she records for her albums. She is a hardcore Artist with a capital A. And it would be irrelevant that she's partnered with super producer Jeff Bhasker (Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Drake, Jay Z, Kanye West, seriously the list goes on, and we could do this all day) or that they have a baby together, except that he produced one of the two new songs she dropped this week. If you think he took her in a more commercial direction, reader, then I suggest you go listen to the track (he did not; it would be impossible to push Li down any path she doesn't intent to tread). If anything, it sounds seamlessly like Li's work. And that is why I recommend "deep end" to you this week. On it she collaborates with Rostam (late of Vampire Weekend), and it is one of the few times in her catalog when I've heard the influence of someone outside of herself seep in. I feel Rostam in the vocal phrasings on the chorus particularly, the electronic drum line that rides near the top of the track, and in the keyboard bit that travels up the scale to punctuate the chorus. The rest is pure Li. Knowing both of their work, it's jarring to feel the fingerprints of another on a track by an artist who I've always regarded as being a loner. I like it, though. They're a good match.
Priscilla Renea "Gentle Hands/Heavenly"
Hey, who is your favorite Black female country artist? If you're having a hard time coming up with one because country music has generally been unwelcoming to minorities, and exceptionally so to Black people (and Black women moreso than anyone), well take a listen to Renea. Country music is already infusing a lot of the elements of hip-hop (don't get me started on hick hop) that Renea plays with, they're just doing it more ham-fistedly. In Renea's track, I hear a reverence for the blues (that stop down on each brush of the guitar where the player taps the body of the instrument with their knuckles is one of the elements I'm talking about here) that makes up both the rhythmic basis of hip-hop beats and is related to the style of instrumentation in folk that is the reason we have country and western style guitar. In short, she's more legit than half the stuff on country radio right now.
Kelsey Lu "Shades of Blue"
I like morose music. I like the Cure, I like Death Cab, I like Fiona Apple, I like things chock full of emotion that make me want to cry because they're cathartic. That's where I'm at with Kelsey Lu, whose music makes me want to sway around, a glass of wine in hand, with mascara-kissed tears rolling down my face. Look out for my Instagram live video later.
Becky G & Natti Natasha "Sin Pijama"
Becky G has been on the cusp of happening for what feels like decades now. But it also felt like whoever was working with her was trying to stuff a size 9 foot into a size 6 shoe. The elements of pop stardom have all been there with her all along, but trying to water her down and take everything interesting out of her has not worked. With the remarkable rise of Latin music, it feels like Becky G can finally have her day. And it looks like the masses agree: This video went to No. 1 on YouTube's trending chart (besting Ariana Grande's hotly anticipated new single) the day it was released.
After my first job at 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.
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