Songs of the Week: John Mayer and Katy Perry, Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean, Phoenix and … R. Kelly?!
Phoenix feat. R. Kelly, “Trying to Be Cool” (Remix)
The burgeoning R. Kelly–Phoenix relationship was birthed at Coachella, when the band had the icon join them onstage for a surprise appearance (guitarist Laurent Brancowitz explains: “We are big fans and we asked him in a very simple way and explained what we had in mind and he just said yes”), and has flourished on through to Robert’s remix of this Bankrupt! track. Now you may want to go ahead and call this whole thing “unlikely,” but the two entities have more in common than you might think: They’re both catchy as hell (in alternately sly and obvious fashions), both somehow simultaneously overrated and underrated at the same time, and both are reliable spark plugs for a spirited round of music-nerd debate. Also, Phoenix is French, so they’re probably both really into weird sex stuff?
Eminem returns, not yet pushing a new album (news on that front is still “coming soon”), but plugging Call of Duty: Ghosts (“Survival” is featured on the game’s soundtrack or trailer or menu page or at that one part where a ghost calls you to duty or something). And that kind of makes me smile: Seeing as Em seems perfectly happy never leaving Michigan, I’m picturing the good folks at Activision had to keep T-shirt cannoning gobs of money into his second-floor window until he couldn’t say no anymore. And whatever you may think of Marshall’s latter-day output, there is one bit that, especially in Post-Kendrick-Verse-On-“Control” America, still resonates: “So floor’s open if you’d like to discuss / top five in this mothafucka’ / and if I don’t make the cut / what, like I give a fuck, I’mma light this bitch up like I’m driving a truck to the side of a pump.” Eminem: still too sad to care!
SZA, “Teen Spirit”
This week, Top Dawg Entertainment — the home of Kendrick Lamar and the rest of his Black Hippy crew — scooped up SZA, a comely young vocalist partial to futurism in her R&B kiss-offs. As of press time, RZA, GZA, and Pizza Hut’s P’Zone have yet to comment.
YACHT, “Party at the NSA”
Hey, remember that time Claire L. Evans from YACHT did Songs of the Week for us? Well, now we’ve got YACHT’s new protest-party anti-warrantless-government-surveillance jam on deck for you on Songs of the Week. Ahh! Ahh! The call is coming from inside the house!!!
John Mayer feat. Katy Perry, “Who You Love”
As was its destiny from its very inception, this new meta-duet from the on-and-off loverbirds has now been outfitted with a YouTube slideshow of all of John and Katy’s greatest nuzzle moments: from poolside nuzzling to jog-nuzzling to drunk-daze-walk-out-of-bar-at-3 a.m.-nuzzling, it’s all here! Of course, this being, yes, history’s greatest love story, but not necessarily its longest, the slideshow runs out of material about halfway through and has to pad the proceedings with a few lingering seconds of Mayer as Santa Claus. No, life can’t always be perfect.
Katy Perry, “Roar”
Speaking of Katy Perry, this is her new single. Surely you’ve already heard it, multiple times. But remember that, as it’s the lead single from a new Katy Perry album, you are destined to hear it roughly 10 billion times more and have it beaten so far into your hippocampus that Pavlovian associations will begin unwittingly forming (to this day, every time I hear “California Gurls” I have to lovingly punch an Albanian man in the shoulder). Soon, you will not be able to decide whether or not you “like” it; the brute fact of its omnipresent existence will be all that is. So, please: Do take this time to try to enjoy it free of its baggage.
Earl Sweatshirt feat. Frank Ocean, “Sunday”
Half a week before its release date, Earl’s whole new album Doris is now streaming on OFWGKTA’s Soundcloud, including this new heartbreak number featuring a slow-talk, spray-everything rap verse from his buddy Frank Ocean (and it might just be touching on the Chris Brown parking-garage brawl?). And we’re officially a long way from the “Earl Is Trapped in a Samoan Youth Academy” days.
Zola Jesus, “Fall Back”
Zola actually copped this new song’s title from a quote by the namesake of the latter half of her nom de guerre. It’s a little-known fact, but, indeed, Jesus of Nazareth was very fond of deploying it in the right circumstances: “Fall back, money changers! Fall back!!!” That kind of thing.
Toro y Moi, “Slough” (David Brent cover)
As part of his revival of the god David Brent, Ricky Gervais unleashed a series of instructional YouTube videos, “Learn Guitar With David Brent”; at one point, he even paid homage to Slough, the much-maligned home of Wernham Hogg. And as much as I would prefer that Gervais would let sleeping timeless comedy creations lie, I can’t front: Seeing those old familiar jerky Brentian head-twists does bring a smile to my face. And, clearly, Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bundwick feels the same way. This week, he sends out his version with a little note: “dear ricky, hope you like this cover. peace, chaz”
Roach Gigz feat. Iamsu!, “It’s Lit”
When I was 11, I basically dreamed of an adult life that was something like this Roach Gigz video (but maybe without as much weed smoke or butts): driving around, high-fiving your friends, generally just chilling to the max with no particular end goal in sight. Things have gotten more complicated, of course: taxes, bills, betrayal, regret, lines just to get into the goddamn Olive Garden. But it’s never too late to live out some version of your dream, is it? That’s why, in honor of “It’s Lit,” this weekend, I’m gonna make my friends stand behind me while I gesticulate toward an imaginary camera.