Mariah Is 100 Percent Mariah, and Halsey Drops a Forgettable Breakup Anthem


Well, it’s Mariah: Mariah Carey, “With You” – One of the most wonderful things about Mariah is her staunch refusal to be anything but 100 percent herself. Instead of just playing the generic narrator of her otherwise by-the-numbers ballad “With You,” she will have you know that she is Mariah the star: She has her object of desire (presumably her backup dancer/choreographer/boyfriend Bryan Tanaka) telling her, “Yo, I’ve been lovin’ you so long/Ever since that Bone Thugs song/You ain’t gotta break down, you’re too strong.”

She’s one of the few pop/R&B stars to have consistently and overtly woven her life into her songs in the confessional manner of the more rootsy (and white) prototypical singer-songwriter image. That counts for something. But the actual track is reminiscent of a bunch of lesser Mariah ballads of the past two decades—I’m catchings whiffs of “I Stay in Love,” “Bye Bye,” and “Angels Cry.” Not super exciting stuff (“GTFO” was more daring) to launch an album with, but at least she gets to add “trepidation” to her always expanding glossary of 10-cent words. —Rich Juzwiak

Nah: Halsey, “Without Me” – Ignoring the fact that this song is literally about breaking up with “rapper” G-Eazy, who is probably just stoked to be considered newsworthy: slow-burning, sexually straight Halsey songs are almost always inexplicably boring. “Without Me” is familiar, derivative, and ultimately forgettable. At least “Him & I” and “Strangers” have some life in it, you know? —Maria Sherman

Yes, it’s spooky season: Puce Mary, “To Possess Is to Be in Control” – Just in time for Halloween, my favorite Danish noise artist Puce Mary (real name Frederikke Hoffmeier) has released a new album, The Drought. Of its nine tracks, “To Possess Is to Be in Control” is my favorite: it’s all layered synths, clear and reverb-heavy lyricism (a new for Hoffmeier) in the form of confrontational poetry obsessed with power, sex, and preservation, fragmented with chaotic distortion, found sounds, mysterious voices. It’s an acquired taste, but ’tis the season. —MS

Y: Elle Varner, “Loving U Blind” – This song is a sweet, cozy acoustic fall ballad that spotlights Elle Varner’s crackle of a voice and comes with a performance-centric black-and-white video that shows her singing about taking slow, measured steps into love “’stead of rushing and loving you blind.” —Clover Hope

Fuck yeah: Sharon Van Etten, “Comeback Kid” – It’s 2018, Sharon Van Etten has discovered drum machines, and I’m here for it. I first fell in love with the singer-songwriter with her 2012 record Tramp, and I’ve been waiting for new music from her since 2014’s Are We There. (She’s been understandably busy, being a new mom, and going back to college.) But on this new track, Van Etten is clearly branching out; this is synth-heavy anthem rock with a pulsating beat, where before we might’ve just had her voice and a piano. What’s still there is the wave of emotion that might pull you under, as Van Etten sings about moving in between places and the prospect and threat of slipping away and disappearing completely. I’m glad she’s back. —Frida Garza

Y: AlunaGeorge feat. Baauer, “Champagne Eyes” – This track from AlunaGeorge’s latest EP by the same name, out today, sucks me in with its wonky beat and the very first line, “When I hit the party, I’m already searching, looking for the exit.” Word. On their new EP, the duo continues to straddle R&B and electronic music, although “Champagne Eyes” specifically leans harder into EDM. There’s no overarching build-up or huge drop, but the chorus is like a microcosm of everything AlunaGeorge is good at: creating tension between Aluna’s vocals and their signature, glitchy textures and letting the drama of it wash over you. —FG

Y: Mon Laferte, “Por Qué Me Fui a Enamorar De Ti” – In a nod to the ’80s in both video and sound, the Latin Grammy award-winning artist ventures into a new genre with this song. Salsa, arguably the most fun to dance to of all, looks good on her. The Chilean singer, who typically leans into other Latin America cultural sounds, but doesn’t seem interested in being consistent or committed to a particular type of music, has dabbled in boleros, rock, pop and more. This is the second single from her upcoming album. I suddenly feel the urge to go dancing this weekend. — Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo

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