Cardi B Creates a Twerk Haven, and Ariana Grande Finds Happiness in Spending


Yes, but do not watch this at work: City Girls, “Twerk,” feat. Cardi B (video) – Ass appreciation is the obvious centerpiece here, but also note the impressive feline body paint, which made a Jezebel staffer comment that Cardi B should’ve starred in Cats. Is this a way of reclaiming the music-video aesthetic of male rappers? I don’t know, but it’s key that women are the curators of the twerking (there are no men in sight as they party), as well as incredible splits and pole drops, a raunchy display of what the human ass can do. Well, some of them. —Clover Hope

Y: Cherushii & Maria Minerva, “A Day Without You” – This bubbly, Italo Disco-inspired track is a bittersweet release. Artist Cherushii, a.k.a. Chelsea Faith Dolan, started collaborating with friend and fellow musician Maria Minerva on an album before Faith died in the fire at Ghost Ship in Oakland. We’re finally going to hear those tracks on a new EP out next month and listening to the beautiful “A Day Without You” is another reminder of how much talent was lost in that tragedy. —Hazel Cills

Nope: Ariana Grande, “7 Rings” (video) – As was clear from Grande’s output in the last year and the success of “Thank U, Next,” her music is best when it’s a little bit personal. That’s why the one-size-fits-all, rap-heavy vibe of “7 Rings,” which is a depressingly soulless song about being able to buy whatever you want, doesn’t really work for me here. “Happiness is the same price as red-bottoms,” seriously? It sounds like a song built for someone else (anyone else, maybe) and Grande herself seems uninspired singing it. Overall, I’m bored! —HC

This ain’t it: The Killers, “Land of the Free” – It was only a matter of time before Killers frontman Brandon Flowers attempted to go full Bono (while sounding full Springsteen). And I should appreciate any effort towards wokeness, but this song is an embarrassment. It’s a gallimaufry of contemporary injustices that register more like a to-do list with each box already checked off than a call-to-arms protest anthem. The band should stick to metaphors, or focus in on a singular topic with educated nuance. Otherwise you get this, a confounding, directionless empowerment single.

“Land of the Free” possesses a naivety not unlike another contemporary radio track: Carrie Underwood’s “Love Wins.” It sounds fine, and means nothing. —Maria Sherman

Ja: Makthaverskan, “Demands” – Let Gothenburg, Sweden indiepop band Makthaverskan cure what ails you—sleepy, apathetic, post-Lana Del Rey vocalists—in one three-minute track. Maja Milner’s voice is spacious, gorgeous, and angry, three things we can all stand to be a little bit more of in 2019. —MS

Y: James Blake feat. Rosalía, “Barefoot in the Park” – This song feels like a healthy dose of symphonic ecstasy if I’ve ever heard one. Though Blake’s latest collection of songs are all strung together by a monotone thread and “Mile High,” a dulcet track featuring Travis Scott and Metro Boomin, is likely to garner the most attention, this one too stands out from the rest. Rosalía has already taken the Anglo-American market by storm with her debut album, so I suspect this is just the first of several upcoming features now that artists in the states have taken notice. While the Spanish bender of genres is the feature here, the sound and feel is distinctively hers, and one to keep coming back to. —Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo

OK PUES: Sky Rompiendo, J. Balvin, Jhay Cortez feat. MadeinTYO, “Bajo Cero” – I wouldn’t call this his best work thus far, but Sky—adroit Colombian producer and mastermind behind most of Balvin’s music—takes center stage here. Drifting from behind the soundboard to the focal point of his song’s videos and releases, Sky is flipping the switch when it comes to visibility of Latinx producers. The song feels lacking lyrically, despite having four writers attached, but the addition of MadeinTYO was a nice kick. —ELC

Y: Ximena Sariñana, “Lo Bailado” – During our last chat, Sariñana mentioned this song among her favorites of her latest works and now I can see why. Among the batch of singles released ahead of the album, this feels most like her. It’s message: there are good moments worth remembering in every experience. The echoing of her velvet voice layered over free-flowing and fluctuating rhythms makes this a fun one to dance to while you think of moments passed. —ELC

Y: Kelsey Lu, “I’m Not in Love” – On one hand, it makes sense that this cover of 10cc’s classic works as well as it does. The original was atmospheric decades before that was a thing—10cc were vaping before there were vapes—so it fits into the current R&B cloudscape rather nicely. On the other, 10cc’s is a perfect song that doesn’t need updating. But Lu, an L.A.-based singer-songwriter cellist, doesn’t merely transcode a classic for modern times; she extends it so that it crawls, while teasing out its creepiness (check out the increasingly chaotic harmonies in the song’s second half). The accompanying video is disturbing in a way that doesn’t make clear sense, its making good use out of a low budget and nightmare logic reminiscent of the ’70s work of Eurosleaze maestro Jesus Franco. What a terrific package. —Rich Juzwiak

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