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    Omar Apollo’s ‘God Said No’ Is an Exquisite Recap of Heartache

    His second album, “God Said No,” delves into a breakup with all its complications, transformed into pensive alt-R&B.A failing romance can spark enduring breakup songs. Consider Taylor Swift, Shakira, Bob Dylan, Beck, Joni Mitchell, Björk, Fleetwood Mac and, now, Omar Apollo, with his second full-length album, “God Said No.”Apollo, 27, was born and grew up in Indiana, the son of immigrant parents — his given last name is Velasco — who shared their Mexican traditions with him. He emerged on SoundCloud in the late 2010s as an alt-R&B songwriter with echoes of Prince, hip-hop and indie-rock, singing largely in English and occasionally in Spanish. Apollo’s full-length debut album in 2022, “Ivory,” gave him a TikTok-powered, platinum-certified hit: “Evergreen (You Didn’t Deserve Me at All),” a self-questioning ballad with echoes of the 1950s and electronic overtones.“God Said No” plunges more deeply into the raw, unsettled, often contradictory emotions of a crumbling relationship. Apollo sings about sorrow, regret, doubt and disbelief, along with bitterness, anger and lingering desire. It’s not a clean break with one side to blame; it’s far more complicated.Teo Halm, one of Apollo’s co-producers on “Evergreen,” is an executive producer (with Apollo) on “God Said No,” which retains and expands that song’s pensive mood. Most of the new album sounds deliberately modest, verging on low-fi. Its tone suggests troubled thoughts and uncomfortable conversations, small-scale and introspective — seemingly private, not overtly theatrical.One model for “God Said No” is probably Frank Ocean’s 2016 “Blonde,” another heartbreak album awash in vulnerability; Apollo’s reedy tenor often resembles Ocean’s voice. On “God Said No,” the guitars and keyboards are tamped down and reticent; drumbeats are present but not pushy. Even when the production deploys strings, horns or Apollo’s own backup vocal harmonies, they’re subdued and distant, more like apparitions than reinforcements.The partial exception is “Less of You,” a metronomic synth-pop track that harks back to Giorgio Moroder (along with some Daft Punk-style filtered and harmonized vocals), with Apollo wondering, “Was last night the end of me and you?” Even with a blippy hook and a chorus that shifts into a major key, Apollo sounds increasingly alone and forlorn.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    The 40 Best Songs of 2024 (So Far)

    Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs. After six months of listening, here’s what they have on repeat. (Note: It’s not a ranking, it’s a playlist.) Listen on Spotify and Apple Music.Sabrina Carpenter, ‘Espresso’Atop a mid-tempo beat that recalls the muffled retro-funk of Doja Cat’s smash “Say So,” Sabrina Carpenter plays the unbothered temptress with winking humor: “Say you can’t sleep, baby I know, that’s that me, espresso.” Make it a double — you’ve surely heard this one everywhere. LINDSAY ZOLADZTyla, ‘Safer’Following her worldwide 2023 hit “Water,” Tyla pulls away from temptation in “Safer,” harnessing the log-drum beat and sparse, subterranean bass lines of amapiano. Her choral call-and-response vocals carry South African tradition into the electronic wilderness of 21st-century romance. JON PARELESOne We MissedAriana Grande, ‘We Can’t Be Friends (Wait for Your Love)’At once strobe-lit and silky, Ariana Grande appropriately channels Robyn — the patron saint of crying in the club — on this nimbly sung, melancholic pop hit, a highlight from her bittersweet seventh album, “Eternal Sunshine.” ZOLADZOne We MissedBillie Eilish, ‘The Greatest’Billie Eilish extols her own composure and skill at dissembling — holding back her unrequited love — in “The Greatest” from “Hit Me Hard and Soft.” Delicate picking accompanies her as she sings about how she “made it all look painless.” Then she shatters that composure, opening her voice from breathy to belting while the production goes widescreen with drums and choir. When the music quiets again, her furious restraint is as palpable as her regret. PARELESMdou MoctarKadar Small for The New York TimesWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Angela Bofill, R&B Hitmaker With a Silky Voice, Dies at 70

    Starting in the late 1970s, she scored multiple hit singles, including “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter” and “I Try,” but multiple strokes in the 2000s ended her career.Angela Bofill, a New York-bred singer whose sultry alto propelled a string of R&B hits in the late 1970s and early ’80s before strokes derailed her career in the 2000s, died on Thursday in Vallejo, Calif. She was 70.Her death, at the home of her daughter, Shauna Bofill Vincent, was announced in a social media post by her manager, Rich Engel. He did not specify a cause.With a silky blend of Latin, jazz, adult-contemporary and soul, Ms. Bofill is best remembered for jazzy love songs like “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter” and funk-inflected pop numbers like “Something About You.” Armed with a three-and-a-half-octave range, her voice was “as cool as sherbet, creamy, delicately colored, mildly flavored,” as Ariel Swartley wrote in Rolling Stone magazine in 1979.Starting in 1978, Ms. Bofill logged six albums in the Top 40 of the Billboard R&B charts, with five of them crossing over to the Top 100 of the pop charts. She also scored seven Top 40 R&B singles, including “Angel of the Night,” (1979) and “Too Tough” (1983).Angela Tomasa Bofill was born on May 2, 1954, in New York City to a Puerto Rican mother and a Cuban father and grew up in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, in Manhattan and in the West Bronx. She started writing songs as a child.By her teens, she was already showing off her vocal chops in a duo with her sister Sandra and a group called the Puerto Rican Supremes, and also as a member of the prestigious All-City Chorus, a group composed of top high-school singers in the city’s five boroughs.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Jelly Roll’s Anthem of Perseverance, and 9 More New Songs

    Hear tracks by Zsela, the Decemberists, Khalid and others.Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new tracks. Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes) and at Apple Music here, and sign up for The Amplifier, a twice-weekly guide to new and old songs.Jelly Roll, ‘I Am Not Okay’The title of “I Am Not Okay” — a song Jelly Roll unveiled last month on “The Voice” — only tells half the story. It’s the kind of bruised, long-suffering, self-doubting, painfully open and high-drama testimonial that has turned Jelly Roll into a country star. He sings about sleepless nights and “voices in my head,” with production that rises from acoustic picking into stolid Southern rock behind his grainy voice. But soon Jelly Roll invokes a community — “I know I can’t be the only one who’s holding on for dear life” — and the promise of salvation: “The pain’ll wash away in a holy water tide.” Whether it’s in this life or beyond it, he declares, “It’s not OK, but we’re all gonna be all right.” It’s an arena-scale homily.NxWorries featuring Earl Sweatshirt and Rae Khalil, ‘WalkOnBy’NxWorries — the partnership of the producer Knxwledge and the rapper and singer Anderson .Paak — ponders the deeply mixed emotions of enjoying success while knowing how hard former peers are still striving. “When you walk on by, you’ve got shades to hide your eyes,” the chorus chides. The track is a relaxed, quiet-storm groove with tickling lead-guitar lines, but it provides contrast, not comfort. “No one has a clue what we had to do to survive,” Anderson .Paak raps, and adds, “When they ask me how I’m doing, I feel guilty inside.” Earl Sweatshirt admits he’s “lived too many lives removed from the strife.” But before the song ends, Rae Khalil sings for those left behind: “I feel like ain’t nobody caring/Everybody’s scared,” she laments.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    The Apollo Theater Celebrates Its 90th Anniversary With Usher, Babyface and More

    Usher, an eight-time Grammy winner, has won many awards in his 30-year career. But the one he received on Tuesday night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem was special, he said.“It’s the prestige,” said the R&B singer, who arrived in a black S.U.V. surrounded by phone-wielding fans to the red carpet outside the theater, which was celebrating its 90th birthday at its annual spring benefit.Along with Babyface, Usher was at the Apollo, which opened in 1934 and has played host to numerous venerated musicians including Billie Holiday, James Brown and Aretha Franklin, for a celebratory concert and an awards ceremony. He and Babyface, the singer-songwriter and producer who has won 12 Grammy Awards, received Icon and Legacy awards from the organization, respectively, for their contributions to music.Gov. Kathy Hochul; the Rev. Al Sharpton; Jordin Sparks, the singer and “American Idol” winner; Ava DuVernay; the filmmaker and screenwriter; and Big Daddy Kane, the rapper, were among the more than 800 musicians, philanthropists and elected officials who filled the 1,500-seat theater.The singer-songwriter and producer Babyface was honored on Tuesday at the Apollo Theater.Krista Schlueter for The New York TimesUsher and his wife, Jennifer Goicoechea.Krista Schlueter for The New York TimesCora Brown and Grandmaster Caz.Krista Schlueter for The New York TimesWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Rock Around the Clock: 8 Songs About Very Specific Times of Day

    Hear tracks by the Strokes, beabadoobee, Normani and more.The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas onstage in 2011. (Sadly, we don’t have the specific time.)Chad Batka for The New York TimesDear listeners,On Friday, the R&B artist and former Fifth Harmony member Normani will finally release her debut album, “Dopamine” — a long (long) awaited, endlessly delayed release she has been teasing for nearly six years. Not that I’ve been watching the clock. Or at least I wasn’t until last month, when Normani dropped the album’s sultry lead single, “1:59.” That ode to not-quite-2-in-the-morning got me dreaming up a playlist of songs about incredibly specific times of day. Now that Normani is ready to share her opus with the world, so am I.Plenty of songs celebrate the hour on the hour; Drake has an entire playlist’s worth of songs with titles like “6PM in New York” or “8AM in Charlotte.” But that’s not what I’m interested in here. With all due respect to Ariana Grande, I’m not even talking 6:30. I’m talking absurdly precise, random time stamps glimpsed on a digital clock or a lock screen and forever burned into one’s memory: “12:51,” “10:35,” “11:59.”Luckily, there is no shortage of such songs, from artists as varied as Moby Grape, Tiësto and Elliott Smith. And weirdly enough, there exists a trio of unrelated songs that are named after three subsequent minutes in the middle of the 10 o’clock hour. Go figure! Naturally, I sequenced the track list in chronological order — like an incredibly abbreviated playlist version of Christian Marclay’s “The Clock.” It certainly won’t last you 24 hours, but it’ll take you on a temporal journey just the same.All right, you know what time it is: Press play.It’s 11:59 and I want to stay alive,LindsayListen along while you read.1. The Strokes: “12:51”We begin exactly 51 minutes after midnight, “the time my voice/Found the words I sought,” as Julian Casablancas specifies on this catchy leadoff single from the Strokes’ 2003 album “Room on Fire.” “12:51” is a mumbled tale of rekindled romance, the acquisition of malt liquor and other sordid things that happen after the clock strikes 12.▶ Listen on Spotify, Apple Music or YouTubeWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    The Constant Metamorphosis of Nona Hendryx

    In a purple catsuit and spiky celestial headpiece, Nona Hendryx beckoned, with a wave. “I’m inside the tree!” she called. “In the forest of the ancestors.”It was not the real Hendryx but her digital avatar, giving a tour of a new virtual reality project. Still, there is little distance between the flesh-and-blood Hendryx — the musician, artist and futurist, who has been forging her own way for over a half-century — and the slinky cyborg on winged feet who was scampering through a turquoise and fuchsia dreamscape on a recent Friday. They both inhabit a world of their own creation, signaling urgently for everyone to catch up.The soundtrack for this V.R. journey was Hendryx’s 1983 electro jam “Transformation” — “Change your mind/Change your skin,” the lyrics go — because, she said, “I’ve constantly evolved and transformed over time.”With each metamorphosis, Hendryx has spun into an even more singular cultural presence. She is not just the throaty alto who had an enduring hit with “Lady Marmalade” as part of the 1970s trio Labelle. She is also a teacher, curator, designer and technologist — a vanguard creator. In fact, she blithely told me, she never wanted to be a singer at all.“It happened, and I’m thankful that I’m pretty good at it,” she said, downplaying a career that took her from ’60s girl groups to the pioneering soul and R&B of the ’70s, then to her solo act in the ’80s, an ahead-of-its-time amalgam of art rock, funk, no wave and electronica that put her in league with technology-forward artists like Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel and Laurie Anderson.Music still drives her. But now, she said, “I’m much more interested in making that, rather than performing and presenting it.”We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    My Starting Five Songs From Boston and Dallas

    Catch the N.B.A. Finals spirit with Erykah Badu, Pixies, Kelly Clarkson and more.Erykah Badu, repping for DallasErik Carter for The New York TimesDear listeners,Last night marked the start of the 2023-2024 N.B.A. Finals, a best-of-seven matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks. As a long-suffering and perpetually annoying fan of the Philadelphia 76ers, I do not really have a horse in this race*, but I also have an excess of energy I would normally reserve for rooting for one of these two teams. I have decided to put that energy to productive use by making a playlist of music by artists from both Boston and Dallas.Consider these musicians my starting five from each city. Both Boston and Dallas have rich and varied musical histories, as you’ll hear in this playlist’s blend of rock, pop, country, R&B, blues and hip-hop. It features bona fide superstars (the Texan Kelly Clarkson; the Dorchesterite Donna Summer) and influential legends (Dallas’s own Stevie Ray Vaughan; the Beantown art-rockers the Pixies). Sure, there are some omissions, but these are just my personal starting fives — and given how many times the ABC broadcast played “Sweet Emotion” when throwing to commercial last night, you’ve probably already hit your Aerosmith quota for the week.Game 1 was quite anticlimactic, with Boston blowing out Dallas 107-89, so hopefully the human Golden Retriever that is Luka Dončić will be able to galvanize his Mavericks into giving us a more competitive series. And if not, well, there’s always this playlist.She knows the highest stakes,Lindsay*Beyond an inborn and semi-irrational distaste for all Boston sports teams, of course.Listen along while you read.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More