Billie Eilish Buries a Friend, Nicki Minaj Is Bored, and Luis Fonsi Evolves


Yeah, okay: Billie Eilish, “bury a friend” – The last time I reviewed a Billie Eilish track for this site (“Lovely” ft. Khalid), I wrote that the teenage pop experimentalist does “one particular thing very well, and she does it in every song she releases: whisper-sung vocals and ethereal production that lifts only so slightly at the chorus.” That’s still true, but until now, I’ve failed to appreciate the malleability of the formula. “bury a friend,” the first single from her imminent debut album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, lives up to her standard, with the addition of an uptempo beat and nightmarish production. Her video screams Marilyn Manson, but the song is definitely Dresden Dolls: a haunted carnival that only appears when you say “Bloody Mary” three times into the front-facing camera setting of an iPhone. —Maria Sherman

Def: CHAI, “Fashionista” – The prevailing narrative surrounding Japanese quartet CHAI focuses on their self-anointed concept of “Neo-Kawaii,” a feminist punk (where punk is an ethos and not a genre) take on cute culture. “Fashionista” takes that theme and applies it to the style economy. Clothing can be an extension of yourself, but it doesn’t need to be on-trend or expensive. That’s obviously no radical concept, but it is a fun one to bop around to whilst enjoying their bilingual electro pop-rock. —MS

Nah: Nicki Minaj, “Hard White” – This music video is boring. Even Nicki looks bored throughout. The whole thing comes across as an afterthought. Like, Young Money had a little extra money to throw around and an exec thought, “Uh, I don’t know, maybe get some neon lights and some zombie contortionists? That’s cool, right?” No, everyone just looks ashy. —Ashley Reese

N: Sam Smith, Normani, “Dancing With a Stranger” (video) – I wrote about this song when it came out. I appreciated Normani flexing on the chorus, but in terms of production, absolutely nothing interesting happens on the song. It’s a snoozefest. The music video accentuates that. Sam Smith and Normani live (?) in huge, empty house and sing about not wanting to be alone, while holographic men and women twirl around and caress them. Is it a metaphor about Tinder? We never get any resolution—like the song, the music video just ends at some point. Gimme more Normani! More hair flips! More dancing! Anything!!! I hope she locates and raises her freak flag higher on her next song. —Frida Garza

Y: Emily Reo, “Strawberry” – Emily Reo lights up on her newest single, sets it ablaze with her sugary-sweet vocals and peppy synths. Together, the two propel you through the song, in which Reo disses mansplainers and those who ask if she’s somebody’s girlfriend at shows. Despite the subject matter, the song is definitively cheery; when Reo shouts “I don’t owe you anything!,” it sounds like a cause for celebration. —FG

Y: Luis Fonsi, Vida Album – For those who have been following the 40-year-old Puerto Rican singer since the ‘90s/early 2000s, it can be a bit nerve-racking to hit play on his tenth album for fear of disillusionment. Let me put you at ease—with reggaeton-infused ballads, pop, and stripped back songs that remind me why “Aqui Estoy Yo” was my song of choice to quote in my high school yearbook (don’t judge), Fonsi beautifully serves his diverse audience an album that has something for everyone. “Dime Que No Te Iras,” and several of the like for the timeless ballad fans, fun bilingual hits like “Échame La Culpa” for anyone with hips, and hand-picked features for newly acquired post-“Despacito” fans. You’ll recognize some songs, like “Imposible” with Ozuna and “Calypso” with Stefflon Don. I stan an ever-evolving Latin pop prince. —Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo

Oh Mon Dieu, Oui: Lartiste ft. Karol G, “Peligrosa” — The culture fusion I didn’t know I needed. I was today years old when I learned of Moroccan-born French artist Lartiste, who coincidentally sounds like a French Anuel AA? Hm. Anyway, these two love languages should 100% come together more often. This song is sexy, and Karol shines in the video with several outfits fit for a queen, including a red fish scale cape + legging combo that I need for walks around the neighborhood. The title translates to “Dangerous,” and the song explores each side’s thought process in what feels like an illogical, nonsensical, yet clearly perfect love affair. —ELC

Y: Empress Of, “When I’m With Him” (Perfume Genius Cover) – The original version of this song is already a favorite from the Los Angeles-based singer’s album Us, and this dreamy iteration is a good addition to the collection, stripping the sound back even further. Their voices take center stage with minimalistic production that includes an echoing drum you can feel in your chest, layered over sweet heartfelt harmonies and somber lyrics flowing from a broken heart. I would much rather listen to this in sunny LA than dreadfully frigid NYC where our hearts are a minute from turning to stone, but am grateful for this nonetheless. Let yourself float away on a sound cloud with these two. —ELC

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