Songs of the Week: Lana Del Rey Gets Culty, Kanye Gets Bubblegummed, and Sheryl Crow Rides Shotgun


Lana Del Rey, “Ultraviolence”

The title song from Lana Del Rey’s upcoming album came out, and it sounds exactly like it did in our dreams. There’s a rickety old piano that would be at home on a Stevie Nicks song. The chorus is a Bryan Ferry–ish dream. Lana quotes the Carole King and Gerry Goffin–authored Crystals song “He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss),” which Courtney Love introduced as a “really sick song” before Hole launched into a cover of it on their 1995 MTV Unplugged. This is a perfect Lana Del Rey song; dramatic, sensual, more than a little creepy. Lana’s distinct retro vibe has moved from mid-sixties into late sixties, on the same trajectory as Megan Draper; from mod dresses (NYC) to tropical caftans (L.A.). There’s the mandatory difficult man, named “Jim” in what may or may not be a reference to Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre, as indicated by the climactic line “Cause I’m your jazz singer and you’re my cult leader.” There is also Lana’s new fondness for randomly throwing in Spanish phrases, and the mandatory thematic link between violence and passion, pronouncing “sirens” as “sigh-ah-rins” so that it rhymes with “violins.” It’s a killer.


Tink & DJ Dahi, “Men”

Midwestern bedroom studio R&B princess Tink has been steadily building up a catalogue of postmodern slow-drippers, and the latest one, called “Men,” is a woozy slumber party in the Vanilla Dome. It was produced by L.A. producer DJ Dahi, who has worked with a who’s who of underground stars, including having produced Drake’s “Worst Behavior” and also, uh, “Sheezus.” Tink’s warm voice winds through Dahi’s ice tunnels and valiantly attempts to melt them with pure feeling.


Sigma, “Nobody to Love”

“Nobody to Love,” a bootleg remix of Kanye’s “Bound 2” by the duo Sigma, got so popular on British radio that Sigma put it out as a real single, hiring a session guy to cover the Charlie Wilson parts. Kind of funny to take the only lighthearted part of Yeezus and turn it into the most lighthearted thing possible. I don’t feel too good about this whole “carefree white girls on a South African road trip” video concept, either. Anyway, once you’ve warmed to the idea of a frothy and free-spirited drum-and-bass remix of “Bound 2,” “Nobody to Love” easily slips into your playlist.


Mark Daumail, “Tom Cruise”

A French dude wrote a synth funk song and titled it “Tom Cruise.” Do you wish Air were a soft-rock band who wrote songs about strip clubs? Of course you do.


Sheryl Crow, “Shotgun”

You know when a song already sounds like it’s been on the jukebox at grimy bars for decades? That’s how I feel about this Sheryl Crow foray into Southern rock, which is the latest single from her 2013 country album Feels Like Home. Like, I bet it sounds really good when you’re tanked. Would it sound good in a truck? Then it passes the Southern rock test. Let’s all make country albums and drink sweet tea — it’s summertime, y’all!


Spice, “So Mi Like It (Raw)”

Spice (no relation to Spice 1) is the currently blue-haired Grace Hamilton, whose Twitter bio dubs her “THE PRINCESS OF DANCEHALL.” This is the best summer video possible, because it features dancers doing insane handstands on ATVs and twerking in front of 18-wheeler trucks at night. And the song is great too.


Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad”

Country superstars Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood do the old Thelma-and-Louise routine about as convincingly as two tiny blonde women can. I am taking suggestions for a name for the dance they are doing in this live performance from the Billboard Awards. Kind of a pigeon-toed strut? A modified Pee-wee Herman? I love how proud Blake Shelton looks of wife Miranda (he is also definitely slizzered). Can you tell I’ve been listening to a lot of the mainstream country radio station lately?


Romain Virgo, “Soul Provider (Brighter Days Riddim)”

Romain Virgo covers Michael Bolton’s 1989 soft-rock smash over a riddim produced by Silly Walks Discotheque. Romain Virgo makes lovers-rock reggae, and he can sing his face off. “Romain Virgo” would also be a very good name for a comic-book villain. Romain Virgo could be the next Bolivar Trask!


Secondcity, “I Wanna Feel”

The ’90s deep house revival continues with this piano house banger. “I Wanna Feel” is currently no. 1 in the U.K. Secondcity is the stage name of producer Rowan John, and if that sampled vocal throughout the track sounds incredibly familiar and puts you in a ’90s mind-set, it’s because it’s Toni Braxton’s 1996 hit “You’re Makin’ Me High.”


SirAiva ft. Pacman, “Brinca Na Barriga”

Sguiggly, summery pop rap from Portugal with a Miami Vice–themed video to match.

Filed Under: Music, Songs of the Week, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Romain Virgo, Spice, Sheryl Crow, Lana Del Rey, Secondcity, SirAiva, Pacman, Mark Daumail, Sigma, Tink, DJ Dahi

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert