More stories

  • in

    Billie Eilish Is in the Mood for Love (and a Weighted Blanket)

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }At HomeWatch: ‘WandaVision’Travel: More SustainablyFreeze: Homemade TreatsCheck Out: Podcasters’ Favorite PodcastsAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyMy TenBillie Eilish Is in the Mood for Love (and a Weighted Blanket)The singer-songwriter gets candid about her new documentary, her dream first date and her perfume obsession.Credit…Magdalena Wosinska for The New York TimesFeb. 23, 2021Billie Eilish can’t stop making lists.“I’m just finding ways of enjoying life,” the 19-year-old singer-songwriter said late last month. “I really like cleaning my room and rearranging things.”She’s also been working on the follow-up to her debut album, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” from 2019, which helped her win all four top Grammys — best new artist, record of the year, song of the year and album of the year — and made her the youngest person ever, and the first woman, to pull off the sweep.It was the latest milestone in a meteoric rise chronicled in a new documentary, “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry,” out on Apple TV+ Friday. But that doesn’t mean Eilish’s rapid ascent is easy for her to watch. “I’m watching it like, ‘Shut the [expletive] up,” she said. “It’s brutal. I’m like, ‘Don’t talk about that!’” (“It’s really nice to get to watch myself go through all these amazing things from another point of view,” she added of the “painfully honest” movie.)The film, directed by R.J. Cutler, traces a fairy tale career that has seen Eilish’s homemade songs streamed more than a billion times on digital platforms while she’s collected over 75 million followers on Instagram. It chronicles the creation of that award-winning LP, and was filmed from 2018 through early 2020.Eilish has spent the past year enjoying recent milestones like voting, driving and accidentally ordering 70 boxes of Froot Loops online. She also wrote a song with Rosalía, “Lo Vas a Olvidar” (“You Will Forget It”), which premiered during a special episode of the HBO series “Euphoria.”In an interview from Los Angeles in late January — punctuated by occasional barks from her rambunctious pit bull, Pepper — Eilish shared her cultural essentials, including her lockdown listens and her dream first date. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.1. The Strokes’ “The New Abnormal”When I first found the album, I was going on a lot of bike rides. I would play the whole album on my speaker backpack and ride around random neighborhoods, and it was always sunny and breezy and pretty and green. Julian Casablancas is just a genius — every time I hear his lyrics I think, “I would never think to say that.” That’s what I love about them — they’re so unexpected, but also relatable. Every single song is good.2. Anything ScentedWhen I was growing up, everybody said I had a “Super Sniffer,” which is a phrase from the show “Psych” and basically means you can smell really well. I don’t know how, though, because my nose is very small! Mine is kind of extreme because I also have synesthesia, which is when your brain pairs two things automatically — every smell has a certain color, number and day of the week. I have probably 100 perfumes, and I label the bottles with little pieces of paper so I can remember what they smell like to me. Some are very specific, like, “This one smells like a ballet class I used to be in,” or “This one smells like that one day we went to this person’s house and this person said this,” and some are more vague, like, “This Hawaiian Punch perfume I got at CVS for $1 smells like 2015,” the whole year. Some are so strong that I can’t smell them at all anymore because I get overwhelmed with the memory.3. Crossroads KitchenI’ve never been on a date — no one has ever taken me on a [expletive] date before! — but if I were to go on one, Crossroads would be the dream. It’s a vegan restaurant in Los Angeles, and it’s bomb. It’s the most delicious food ever. The meatball sub and chicken waffles are my go-tos. They’re both entrees, so every time I go they’re like, “What do you want?” and I’m like “The meatball sub,” and then they want to move on to the next person, but I’m like, “Also, the chicken waffles.” And I eat them both right up. I don’t have any leftovers afterward.4. “I’m in the Mood for Love”The first time I heard this song was on “The Little Rascals,” which was my favorite show when I was kid. All I wanted was to be a Little Rascal; I wanted to kiss Alfalfa so bad! There’s a scene where Darla sings “I’m in the Mood for Love,” and I remember thinking it was such a pretty song. Then years and years went by, until one day, I was like, “What was that song that I thought was so pretty when I was little?” And I found a really beautiful, but low-quality, Frank Sinatra version on SoundCloud, which I listened to when I was traveling through Europe on tour. And then recently, I found this Julie London version, and she just murders it. She has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. It’s just such a perfect love song. Every time I hear it, no matter what I’m feeling, it makes me want love.5. CardsOn tour we have a lot of waiting time — yes, tour, a thing from the past! — and I can’t really go outside because the fans are lined up around the block. But we come up with things to do. Our go-to game is Speed, which is a card game my assistant tour manager, Lauren Millar, taught me how to play on this really long bus ride in Russia — we played it for like two hours straight that day. And from then on we just played it nonstop. It started as kind of a time-taker-upper and ended as a thing we’d do when we were supposed to be doing other things.6. “We Need to Talk About Kevin”This movie has the most beautiful cinematography I’ve ever seen — everything about it is perfectly done, from the framing to the colors. It’s been one of my biggest inspirations for my own music videos. Every time I watch it I see something new that’s genius about the way it was shot.7. DrivingOnce I learned how to drive, it was all I wanted to do. It’s a place where I feel very free and anonymous and in control. I drive a black Dodge Challenger, which was my dream car growing up. I saved my money for years and years, and I used to be like, “I don’t want anyone to buy it for me because I want to buy it myself with my own money.” But then Justin [Lubliner], my label guy, a couple months before my birthday was like, “What do you want for your birthday, Billie?” and I, just jokingly, was like, “A Dodge Challenger, in matte black.” And I was like, “Just kidding, don’t get me that, obviously.” Then the night before my birthday, we did a photo shoot for the cover of my album, and at the end of the day Justin drove up in my dream car — I cried for probably three hours straight.8. Weighted BlanketMy mom got one when I was 9 or 10 because she can’t fall asleep without a lot of weight on her — one time when she was younger, she woke up between her mattress and her bed frame! I had just been using hers, and then eventually I got my own. I get so much better sleep under it, and it’s a good physical affection tool when you don’t have any.9. “New Girl”I’ve seen this show like six times, and I just started rewatching it again. It’s just very entertaining and stupid and I love it. I watched it like 10 minutes ago right before I got on this call. I don’t ever get tired of it because the actors are so hilarious. Max Greenfield is just one of my favorite people — he’s so funny and so specifically himself. But Nick Miller is really just top-notch and is the best character. He’s trending on Twitter right now for some reason; I don’t know why. But I don’t blame Twitter. Nick Miller’s the GOAT.10. Frank Ocean“Blonde” is my go-to album to play any time at all, but especially when I need to relax. When I had a plaster mold made of my head for a photo shoot for the cover of Garage magazine a few years ago, I played Frank Ocean the entire hour so I wouldn’t have a panic attack. I haven’t gotten to meet him, but I don’t expect him to ever even come near me. He can stay being God up in the clouds.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

  • in

    Daft Punk Announces Breakup After 28 Years

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyDaft Punk Announces Breakup After 28 YearsThe enigmatic, influential French electronic-music duo released four albums and collected six Grammys throughout a career marked by a disinterest in fame.The French electronic duo Daft Punk announced its end wordlessly, through music and iconography, in a YouTube video called “Epilogue.”Credit…Chad Batka for The New York TimesFeb. 22, 2021The enigmatic, pseudo-anonymous, retro-futuristic French electronic duo Daft Punk has broken up, the group announced on Monday in classic form — wordlessly, through music and iconography, in a YouTube video called “Epilogue.”A publicist for Daft Punk, Kathryn Frazier, confirmed the breakup and said there would be no further comment at this time.Founded by the former indie-rock bandmates Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter in Paris in 1993, Daft Punk went on to win six Grammy Awards (including album of the year for “Random Access Memories” in 2014); collaborate widely, with decade-spanning artists from Giorgio Moroder to the Weeknd; and influence countless other producers, D.J.s, rappers and pop stars with its devotion to mystique and its unique blend of house, techno, pop, disco and rock.“The duo’s defining balancing act has been breaking new ground while simultaneously invoking earlier golden ages of club music, like disco and 1980s electro-pop,” the critic Simon Reynolds wrote in The New York Times in 2013, when Daft Punk granted a rare interview.Since the late 1990s, the duo has presented itself as otherworldly and uninterested in the trappings of fame or celebrity, donning robot helmets that would become its trademark (Bangalter often in silver, de Homem-Christo in gold), and rarely saying anything at all.When the men collected their trophy for “Random Access Memories” at the Grammys — one of four they won that night, bringing their career total to six — the musicians Paul Williams and Nile Rodgers, who worked on the album, spoke instead.In the “Epilogue” video announcing Daft Punk’s demise, which was taken in part from the group’s 2006 film “Electroma,” the two members are seen walking together in the desert in matching motorcycle jackets.When they come face to face, the one in the silver helmet removes his jacket, which is adorned with the Daft Punk logo, and the other presses a button on his back that starts a 60-second timer. As it counts down, he walks away, never looking back, and is then blown apart, breaking into pieces that resemble a machine more than a man of flesh and blood.The song “Touch,” from “Random Access Memories,” begins playing — “Hold on,” go the lyrics, “if love is the answer, you’re home” — as the remaining bandmate walks into the sunset. The years 1993 to 2021 flash on the screen.Daft Punk released its debut album, “Homework,” on Virgin Records in 1997, finding unlikely international hits in “Da Funk” and “Around the World.” The duo’s follow-up, “Discovery,” came out in 2001 and included singles like “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” (later sampled by Kanye West) and “One More Time.” In 2005, the group released “Human After All,” touring extensively in the two years after, including a memorable performance atop an elaborate light-up pyramid at Coachella in 2006 that was Daft Punk’s first concert in the United States in nearly a decade. A live album from this period, “Alive 2007,” later won the Grammy for best electronic/dance album.In the years that followed, even as its myth grew and so-called E.D.M. D.J.s and producers became a billion-dollar business, Daft Punk retreated somewhat from the sample-based dance music it helped popularize. For “Random Access Memories,” which would be released by a new label, Columbia Records, the group used renowned session players and sought to make “every sound from scratch, creating a sonic world from the ground up,” Bangalter told The Times.“In some ways it’s like we’re running on a highway going the opposite direction to everybody else,” he said, adding: “Computers were never designed in the first place to become musical instruments.”“Get Lucky,” the album’s lead single featuring Pharrell Williams, would go on to become the group’s most successful song to date, hitting No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Daft Punk later achieved its first and only career No. 1 as guests on “Starboy” by the Weeknd, which they performed (along with another collaboration, “I Feel It Coming”) at the Grammys in 2017. It would be their final show.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

  • in

    5 Songs to Listen to Right Now

    5 Songs to Listen to Right NowDua Lipa.Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesI write about pop music for The New York Times. Here are five new and notable songs, including Taylor Swift’s first rerecorded back-catalog hit and Dua Lipa at her cheekiest → More

  • in

    Dawn Richard Honors New Orleans Second Lines, and 7 More New Songs

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyThe PlaylistDawn Richard Honors New Orleans Second Lines, and 7 More New SongsHear tracks by 24kGoldn, Amythyst Kiah, Lil Yachty and others.Dawn Richard’s new single “Bussifame” is a preview of her April album “Second Line.” Credit…Alexander Le’JoJon Pareles, Jon Caramanica and Feb. 19, 2021, 10:53 a.m. ETEvery Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at theplaylist@nytimes.com and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage.Dawn Richard, ‘Bussifame’[embedded content]Dawn Richard gives “Bussifame” four syllables — as in “Bust it for me” — when she chants it in her new single, a preview of her April album “Second Line.” The video, released on Mardi Gras, opens with someone dancing to a (sadly uncredited) New Orleans brass band’s second-line beat. Then the track itself begins, with Richard and her dancers wearing pointy, futuristic costumes outside the giant graffiti on a derelict former Holiday Inn. “Feet move with the beat/Bussifame, second line,” she chants, huskily, in an electronic track that’s closer to house than to second line, but just keeps adding levels of perky syncopation. JON PARELESAmythyst Kiah, ‘Black Myself’“Black Myself” starts out as a blunt catalog of stereotyping and discrimination — “You better lock the doors as I walk by/’Cause I’m Black myself — before affirming Black solidarity and self-determination in its final verse. The song was already a bluesy stomp when Amythyst Kiah first recorded it with the folky all-star alliance Our Native Daughters; now she revisits it with a fuller studio production, reinforcing its distorted guitar with more effects, more layers and a bigger beat, adding extra clout. PARELESMichael Wimberly, featuring Theresa Thomason, ‘Madiba’Over a stuttering bass line, plinking balafon and wah-wah-drenched guitar, the gospel vocalist Theresa Thomason offers an unflinching tribute to Nelson Mandela, lingering on the struggles he endured and vowing to carry his legacy forward. “Always looking left, always looking right/Always defending the people’s truth/We’ll never forget you,” she sings. The song comes from “Afrofuturism,” the latest album by the percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Michael Wimberly, who recorded it with a diverse group of musicians from across the world. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO24kGoldn, ‘3, 2, 1’24kGoldn’s version of hip-hop is, in essence, pop-punk coated with just the faintest layer of R&B — which is to say, exceedingly pop. His latest single, which arrives while “Mood,” his recent No. 1 with Iann Dior, is still at No. 5 on the Hot 100, is taut, angsty and extremely efficient, a fait accompli of hybrid pop. JON CARAMANICALil Yachty featuring Kodak Black, ‘Hit Bout It’Lil Yachty, KrispyLife Kidd, RMC Mike, Babyface Ray, Rio Da Yung OG, DC2Trill and Icewear Vezzo, ‘Royal Rumble’Three or so years ago, you would not have pegged Lil Yachty as destined to be one of hip-hop’s more versatile talents. And yet here he is, fast rapping over a nervous beat on “Hit Bout It,” a strong duet with the fresh-out-of-jail Kodak Black. That comes less than two weeks after “Royal Rumble,” a posse cut of (mostly) great Michigan rappers full of the non sequitur tough talk that’s been defining that scene for the last couple of years, and which Yachty has an affinity (if not quite aptitude) for. Focus instead on great verses from the stalwart Icewear Vezzo and the up-and-comer Babyface Ray. CARAMANICAMahalia featuring Rico Nasty, ‘Jealous’A sample of flamenco guitar curls through the insinuating, two-chord track of “Jealous” as the English singer Mahalia and the Maryland rapper-singer Rico Nasty casually demolish male pride. “Im’a do what I want to baby/I won’t be stuck without you baby,” they nonchalantly explain, as Mahalia flaunts her wardrobe, her car, her “crew” and her indifference. “Unless you got that heart then you can’t come my way,” she sings, staccato and unconcerned. PARELESChris Pattishall, ‘Taurus’For his debut album, the rising pianist Chris Pattishall reached back 75 years to revisit Mary Lou Williams’s 12-part “Zodiac Suite.” The result is neither overly nostalgic nor newfangled and gimmicky. Pattishall’s “Zodiac” is a startling achievement precisely because of how deeply — and personally — this old material seems to resonate with him. Pattishall has said that he is particularly drawn to Williams because of the way she seemed to hopscotch between atmospheres and registers within individual compositions, without sacrificing a sense of narrative. That’s borne out on his album’s very first track, “Taurus” (Williams’s own star sign), which starts with a passage of ruminative piano before a quick acceleration, with Pattishall leading his quintet into a swirling, bluesy refrain. RUSSONELLOAdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

  • in

    One Album Released by 44 Labels. Is This the New Global Jukebox?

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyOne Album Released by 44 Labels. Is This the New Global Jukebox?For a decade, Senyawa has helped redefine how Indonesian music sounded. Now, the duo wants to revolutionize how it gets heard.Wukir Suryadi and Rully Shabara at their studio in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Their group, Senyawa, is an international emissary of Indonesia’s experimental music scene.Credit…Ulet Ifansasti for The New York TimesFeb. 18, 2021Updated 2:02 p.m. ETWhen coronavirus lockdowns began to grow among Indonesia’s 900 inhabited islands late last March, Rully Shabara and Wukir Suryadi, like many artists worldwide, began to fret over their musical future.During the last decade, their duo, Senyawa, has emerged as one of the lone international emissaries of Indonesia’s rich experimental scene. They have hopscotched among the islands of Southeast Asia and flown abroad for prestigious festivals, earning 90 percent of their income on tour. Their tumultuous mix of heavy-metal aggression and free-jazz bedlam — bellowed in Shabara’s athletic baritone, backed with Suryadi’s elaborate homemade instruments — has dispelled notions that all Indonesian music chimes like gamelan or hypnotizes like one of its folk forms.“When Senyawa started, if someone knew about Indonesia, they knew gamelan, Bali; they think everybody is playing traditional music,” Shabara said, laughing during a recent video call from Yogyakarta. “If you wanted to go to the United States and scream, people expected you to play the flute. But people know Indonesian music now. That door was opened.”The pandemic threatened to slam it shut again, so Senyawa came up with an unconventional plan. Last September, while making its new album, “Alkisah,” the duo decided its music would no longer be issued through a single label. Instead, the group would make an open online call for any imprint willing to enlist in a global confederation, with each member selling small localized editions of the same record. This week, at least 44 labels scattered across four continents will offer unique versions of “Alkisah,” each with distinct artwork and, in many cases, bonus tracks. It is the most daring iteration yet of Senyawa’s new credo: “Decentralization should be the future.”“It’s not about Senyawa anymore. It’s not about our album,” Shabara said, jabbing his finger toward the screen as a cross-legged Suryadi perched behind him like a mantis, taking long drags from a cigarette. “We don’t want to dominate anybody. This can be anyone’s music.”Unless they’re self-released, most albums fall under the purview of a single label. Or perhaps one imprint handles a record in the Americas, while another takes the reins in Europe or Asia. At best, the stakeholders coordinate release dates or promotional strategies, with priority often given to the label with the biggest potential market share. They are unequal members on one loose team.Senyawa wondered what would happen if it not only grew the team to an unusually large size but also gave the players relative autonomy. After all, “Alkisah” is a dizzying eight-song suite about the revolution that’s possible when world powers collapse, built into a fun house of prog-rock, noise, metal and a little traditional chanting. Why not rethink, from every angle, the very system that delivers music to listeners?The duo doled out graphics and audio files, encouraging labels to make covers that might appeal to their audiences and to commission remixes that might warrant local excitement.“We want the labels to have ownership. Somebody in Beirut may have the Senyawa album, but it should feel like an album from Beirut, not Indonesia,” Shabara said. The Beirut cover glows in iridescent orange and pink, the band’s name scrawled across it in Arabic. One of four German editions is stark and striking, suggesting cool minimal electronics. Together, the assorted editions of “Alkisah” sport nearly 200 remixes.“We want the labels to have ownership,” Shabara said. “Somebody in Beirut may have the Senyawa album, but it should feel like an album from Beirut, not Indonesia.”Credit…Ulet Ifansasti for The New York TimesWhen James Vella first heard Senyawa’s plan last October, he was conceptually intrigued, if pragmatically uncertain. His boundless British label, Phantom Limb, had previously issued Shabara’s solo work, and he loved the pair’s adventurous ardor. But could his fringe upstart afford to divvy the audience for experimental Indonesian rock with more than 40 other imprints?“As fans, we wanted to say yes,” Vella said by phone from London. “But any tiny label is forever one release away from failure. If you invest time and resources in a record that doesn’t sell, it could be the death knell. That is slightly more complicated here.”Vella began to understand, though, that this plan would enhance the sort of resource sharing some labels already use. Phantom Limb, for instance, partnered with a Belgian imprint to market “Alkisah.” The 44 labels now commingle on the chat application Discord, swapping ideas and information.These private international companies have digitally merged into a de facto mutual-aid network, mirroring Senyawa’s ethos back home. With an instrument-building shop, studio, kitchen, sleeping quarters and even indoors beehives, their Yogyakarta compound recalls an artist loft from a bygone New York. The group licenses Senyawa-brand hot sauce, cigarettes and incense for community relief. During the pandemic, Shabara has drawn 200 portraits of strangers, each of whom agreed to feed one neighbor in exchange.For the labels, it’s not just altruism. Senyawa contracted Morphine Records in Berlin to oversee the production and distribution of 2,300 copies for a dozen imprints, driving costs far lower than if those businesses placed separate orders. One in Bali will get 50, another in Spain 200. The savings mean each transaction might net $10, giving these boutique brands a rare shot at a modest profit. Phantom Limb sold what Vella called a “healthy” chunk of its 300 copies before “Alkisah” was actually released.“There may only be 500 people who are interested in the record I am putting out, but I am trying to find all 500,” said Phil Freeman, whose Burning Ambulance is one of two tiny American imprints working with Senyawa. “Wherever they are in the world, great.”Shabara gushed when he discussed this scheme’s future feasibility, detailing organizational refinements he imagines. And Rabih Beaini, the owner of the German label handling manufacturing, suggested that bands big and small could increase their audience by recruiting a plethora of cooperative partners. “You could have 100 labels that reach obscure markets in countries where you might not normally sell your music,” Beaini said from Berlin. “It’s quite utopian.”But Stephen O’Malley — the co-founder of metal duo Sunn O))) and a label owner — warned against reducing Senyawa’s idea into a novel strategy for sales. Several years ago, O’Malley invited Senyawa to perform with him at Europalia, a biennial arts festival, each event devoted to a different country’s culture. He reveled in their openness and enthusiasm.“Senyawa are approaching this record as a way to connect with a lot of people, a way to collaborate,” O’Malley said from his home in Paris. “So why does it have to be sustainable as a business? Of course music is sustainable. It’s been around since the beginning of the species and transmitted the whole time.”But the added connectivity is already changing the way Senyawa functions. This weekend, the group is presenting Pasar Alkisah, a two-day virtual festival of performances, D.J. sets, cooking classes and interviews, a massive act of coordination between the band and their dozens of partners.In September, when Senyawa recorded “Alkisah,” it reconvened near Borobudur, the iconic Buddhist temple built on Java a millennium ago. Shabara and Suryadi isolated themselves in a friend’s sprawling home there, surrounded by a patch of jungle and a panorama of converging rivers and twin volcanoes. It was a postcard version of Indonesia — and a perfectly ironic place to capture a less stereotypical perspective on the world’s fourth most populous country.“We are normal musicians like anyone else in the world who experiments. We just happen to be Indonesian,” Shabara said, his words arriving in a torrent. “If we want Indonesian musicians to flourish and be as highly respected as musicians from the West, we have to think we’re part of the world, not the ‘Third World.’”AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

  • in

    Remembering Sophie, Architect of Future Pop

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storyPopcastSubscribe:Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsRemembering Sophie, Architect of Future PopExploring the legacy of a producer and performer who imagined an approach to music without borders.Hosted by Jon Caramanica. Produced by Pedro Rosado.More episodes ofPopcastFebruary 15, 2021Remembering Sophie, Architect of Future PopFebruary 5, 2021The Music Lost to Coronavirus, Part 2January 31, 2021Olivia Rodrigo and ‘Drivers License’ Aren’t Going AnywhereJanuary 19, 2021Inside the Bull Market for Songwriting RightsJanuary 7, 2021How Zev Love X Became MF DoomDecember 23, 20202020 Popcast Listener Mailbag: Taylor, Dua, MGK and MoreDecember 15, 2020Taylor Swift’s ‘Evermore’: Let’s DiscussDecember 9, 2020The Best Albums of 2020? Let’s DiscussNovember 29, 2020Saweetie, City Girls and the Female Rapper RenaissanceNovember 18, 2020Who Will Control Britney Spears’s Future?November 10, 2020Ariana Grande, a Pop Star for the Post-Pop Star AgeOctober 22, 2020  •  More

  • in

    5 Questions About Britney Spears, Answered

    5 Questions About Britney Spears, AnsweredMario Anzuoni/ReutersFollowing the release of the documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” there’s been renewed attention on the pop star’s battle with her father, Jamie Spears, over control of her personal well-being and finances.I’ve been following the case closely. Here’s what you should know → More

  • in

    Taylor Swift’s New Old ‘Love Story,’ and 12 More Songs

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyThe PlaylistTaylor Swift’s New Old ‘Love Story,’ and 12 More SongsHear tracks by Dua Lipa, Nicky Jam and Romeo Santos, R+R=Now and others.Taylor Swift has released a new version of her 2008 hit “Love Story” as the first of the songs she is rerecording from her first six albums.Credit…Chris Pizzello/Invision, via Chris Pizzello/Invision/ApJon Pareles, Jon Caramanica, Giovanni Russonello and Feb. 12, 2021Updated 2:22 p.m. ETEvery Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at theplaylist@nytimes.com and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage.Taylor Swift, ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’[embedded content]As the first official release of her rerecorded back catalog, “Love Story,” from Taylor Swift’s 2008 album, “Fearless,” is a savvy pick. Not only is it one of her most beloved hits, but it also means that the first new-old lyric we hear the 31-year-old Swift sing is, “We were both young when I first saw you” — an immediate invocation of the past that subtly reframes the recording as a kind of tender love song to her 18-year-old self. Swift is more interested in impressive note-for-note simulacrum than revisionism here, though sharp-eared Swifties will delight in noticing the tiniest differences (like the playful staccato hiccup she adds to “Rom-e-oh!” on the second pre-chorus.) When Swift first announced her intentions to rerecord her first six albums, skeptics wondered if the whole project was just an uncomfortably public display of personal animosity toward her former business partners, and the songs’ new owners. But Swift has so far brought a sense of triumph, grace and artistry to the endeavor, and in doing so has begun the process of retelling her story on her own terms. It’s better than revenge. LINDSAY ZOLADZRebecca Black featuring Dorian Electra, Big Freedia and 3OH!3, ‘Friday (Remix)’Let’s say you want to rewrite your past. Write it over, like an old hard drive. Take a thing that made you well known, and reclaim it. Send a message to the people who robbed that thing of the pleasure and satisfaction it brought you. Sure, you could do a note-for-note rerecording that serves primarily as a middle finger to equity investors. Or perhaps you could take the Rebecca Black route. It’s been around a decade since “Friday,” her debut single, made her an early casualty of social media cruelty. But Black has been releasing music steadily, and quietly, for the last few years, and recently she’s been inching back into the spotlight as a reliably charming presence on TikTok. Musically, she’s found her footing as an outré eccentric with sturdy savvy, an ideal approach for — and a natural position for — someone who’s been chewed to pulp by the internet. Hence, the reclaiming of “Friday,” with a chaotic, loopy, joyful, meta-hyperpop remix with Dorian Electra, Big Freedia and 3OH!3, all produced by Dylan Brady of 100 gecs. The original song became an ur-text of outcast misery. How wonderful to hold it tight all these years, and just wait for your band of misfits to come along. JON CARAMANICADua Lipa, ‘We’re Good’Dua Lipa is at her cheekiest on “We’re Good,” a bonus track from the new deluxe “Moonlight Edition” of her 2020 album, “Future Nostalgia”: “We’re not meant to be, like sleeping and cocaine,” she croons. OK then! The video is, similarly, full of irreverent, not-sure-it-all-quite-lands humor, as a tank of imperiled lobsters are saved from becoming dinner by … the Titanic sinking? Thankfully the song itself is pretty straightforward and fun — a sassy, slinky kiss-off that’s more reliably buoyant than that doomed luxury liner. ZOLADZNicky Jam and Romeo Santos, ‘Fan de Tus Fotos’“Fan de Tus Fotos” finds the smooth reggaeton star Nicky Jam and the bachata superstar Romeo Santos both longing for the same woman, crooning one come on after another. Santos, in particular, is vivid, singing (in Spanish), “I’m your fan looking for a ticket/for a concert with your body.” In the video, both are office drones obsessed with the same supervisor, who metes out two punishments for their workplace insubordination — she fires them (bad), then finds more direct ways to boss them around (ummmmm … not bad?). CARAMANICACherry Glazerr, ‘Big Bang’Clementine Creevy, the songwriter who leads Cherry Glazerr, has moved well beyond the lean, guitar-driven rock of her recent past. “Big Bang” is a negotiation with an ex who’s still in the picture: “I still call you when I need escaping,” she admits, only to insist, “I don’t wanna make you my lifeline.” Her mixed feelings play out over a stately march that rises to near-orchestral peaks. Is she arguing with her ex or with herself? JON PARELESDeath From Above 1979, ‘One + One’What happens when post-punks grow up? The guitar-and-drums duo Death From Above 1979 has one answer: a hard-riffing embrace of happy monogamy and proud fatherhood. “One plus one is three — that’s magic!” The drums still pound and skitter, and the guitar still bites, while the nuclear family is reaffirmed. PARELESR+R=Now, ‘How Much a Dollar Cost’The pianist Robert Glasper and the alto saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Terrace Martin played important roles in the making of Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” and they’re also at the nucleus of R+R=Now, a contemporary-jazz supergroup that works in conversation with hip-hop and R&B. (It also includes Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah on trumpet, Derrick Hodge on bass, Taylor McFerrin on synthesizer, and Justin Tyson on drums.) When the group performed at Glasper’s Blue Note residency in New York in 2018, Lamar’s “How Much a Dollar Cost” was part of the set. That show was released today as a live album; on the Lamar cover, without an M.C., the fiery interplay between Adjuah and Martin takes over storytelling duties. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLOMatt Sweeney and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, ‘Hall of Death’What could have been a country waltz becomes, instead, a hyperactive scramble of distorted Tuareg guitar riffs and three-against-two cross-rhythms. The weary voice and haunted lyrics of Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Billy) are backed not only by Matt Sweeney but by the unstoppable Mdou Moctar Ensemble — which includes their songwriting collaborator Ahmoudou Madassane on guitar, from Niger. The track winds up, unexpectedly, as something like a love song. PARELESLil Tjay featuring 6lack, ‘Calling My Phone’Lightly resentful sad boy R&B from Lil Tjay and 6lack — Lil Tjay sounds depleted, while 6lack sounds like he never takes his sunglasses off when he looks you in the eye. CARAMANICAKaty Kirby, ‘Portals’Katy Kirby’s voice is modest and breathy, with a few unconcealed cracks, as she muses over a shaky relationship in metaphysical terms: “If we peel apart will we be stronger than before/we had formed ourselves together in a temporary whole?” She’s accompanied by calm, steady, basic piano chords in the foreground, while chamber-pop co-conspirators open up creaky mysteries around her. PARELESLucy Gooch, ‘Ash and Orange’The composer and singer Lucy Gooch layers her keyboards and vocals into enveloping reveries. “Ash and Orange” relies on organ-toned synthesizer chords, distant church bells and countless choirlike overdubbed harmonies for a song that evolves from meditation to an open-ended quasi-confession — despairing? forgiving? — from overlapping voices: “In my heart, in my head, I’ve tried.” PARELESMark Feldman, ‘As We Are’Fluidly spiraling up the violin’s neck, then dashing and plucking and scraping back down in a rough swarm: that’s the sound of Mark Feldman — unflinching and unconstrained as always — in a solo rendition of Sylvie Courvoisier’s “As We Are.” Later he lets the piece’s off-the-grid melody carry him into a stretch of intense improvising. This track opens Feldman’s engrossing new album, “Sounding Point,” his first solo violin LP in over 25 years. RUSSONELLOBrent Faiyaz featuring Purr, ‘Circles’In “Circles,” the producer and singer Brent Faiyaz ponders identity, purpose and eschatology: “Did I forget who I am? Chasing gold?/Only heaven knows if you can truly win in the midst of a world that’s gon’ end.” Nothing is reliable: not the computer-shifted pitch of his voice, not the loop of plinky tones behind him, not the beat that’s sometimes interrupted, not even whether it’s one song or two. For its last 47 seconds, the track changes completely, turning into retro soundtrack rock as, in the video, Faiyaz leaves the studio gloom, climbs into his sports car and drives off. PARELESAdvertisementContinue reading the main story More