Each week we break down our favorite song, highlight our honorable mentions, and wrap them all up with other staff recommendations into a playlist just for you.
Mark Ronson has had a hell of a year. The producer is, at this point, a legend, writing and engineering for artists like Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars, and many in between. 2018 has been particularly prolific for Ronson due to his songwriting with Lady Gaga for the box-office smash A Star Is Born, whose lead single, “Shallow”, was written in part by the Brit. In addition to all this, Ronson has released the first song in anticipation of his upcoming solo album, “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart”. The single features Miley Cyrus on vocals and fuses her Tennessee roots with a modern twist, creating a simultaneously heart-wrenching and danceable tune.
Cyrus and Ronson pair well together, the former’s raw talent and knack for soulful vocals balancing the DJ’s skill for unique and enthralling production. The chorus of “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart” will be stuck in listeners’ heads for days or even weeks, a tumbling declaration of life’s hurdles that feels both melancholy and triumphant in the face of lost love. The marriage of Cyrus’ pop stardom and Ronson’s skill for creating bona fide hits is a match made in heaven, and “Nothing…” is an example of that can’t-miss compatibility.
Chance the Rapper – “My Own Thing” feat. Joey Purp
“My Own Thing” is brimming with the personality of Chance the Rapper, both in its independent sentiment (exactly the right feeling for the end of the year) and in its infectiously upbeat rhythm, which shifts and catches at all the right times. –Laura Dzubay
Arctic Monkeys – “Anyways”
“Musing” is perhaps the best word to describe “Anyways”, which thoughtfully extends the work Arctic Monkeys did earlier this year on Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, exploring the effects of fame on identity with lines like “Nosebleeds from epiphanies I took full in the face” against a background flushed with retro twang. –Laura Dzubay
Toro Y Moi – “Ordinary Pleasure”
Toro Y Moi brings funk to the realm of synth-pop in “Ordinary Pleasure”, balancing the woes of sold-out relationships (“Does sex even sell anymore?”) with the demanding nature of happiness. –Laura Dzubay
Kaytranada – “Nothin Like U” feat. Ty Dolla $ign
Kaytranada is submerged within a focused dream in “Nothing Like U”, singing his appreciation for another amidst a dreamy, synthy canvas that evokes the glimmering of city lights. –Laura Dzubay
Phoebe Bridgers – “Friday I’m in Love” (The Cure Cover)
Quick on the heels of boygenius, Phoebe Bridgers has brought an entirely new tenderness to The Cure’s classic “Friday I’m In Love”, channeling the pop-rock hit into a close and confessional moment illuminated by little more than gentle vocals and piano. –Laura Dzubay
OTHER SONGS WE’RE SPINNING
SABA – “Excited”
The Decemberists – “Traveling On”
The Decemberists’ “Traveling On” feels like a sad version of Weezer’s “Island in the Sun” in the best possible way: the track is feel-good, rhythmic, and catchy in all the right places, creating a memorable single full of folk soul. –Clara Scott
Cautious Clay – “REASONS”
Offering a promising glimpse into Cautious Clay’s upcoming EP, “REASONS” is an energetic song full of looping, echoing vocals, and intimate, well-crafted lyrics like, “I always knew you would change like seasons.” –Laura Dzubay
Great Grief – “Feeling Fine”
“Feeling Fine” is a standout on Great Grief’s recently released sophomore album, a cathartic release of energy and pent-up anger that comes out in the frontman’s frenzied vocals. –Clara Scott