Single-Phile, Winter 2014
Well, we called this the winter edition of Single-Phile, our semi-regular breakdown of the new pop songs vying for your ears (and chart positions). But since it IS officially March, we decided to focus on whether this crop of new singles has a breath of fresh spring air about it or not. So, listen to our playlist of picks for the season(s)' most important new songs, and then read along as we sum them up, break them down and evaluate their "springiness."
Artist: Pharrell Williams
Summing It Up in 25 Words or Less: 2014's "Hey Ya!" or "F*ck You": a snap-crackle-popping slice of retro R&B and sheer energy so bubbly you'll need a crazy hat.
Sign of Spring: We don't know how anyone could miss Pharrell's shadow in that hat, but everything about this song screams sunny days and chirping birds.
Song: "Air Balloon"
Artist: Lily Allen
Summing It Up in 25 Words or Less: Princess of pop cheek takes the sing-songy straight (read: no snark) on this plinking, playful daydream of a love song.
Sign of Spring: Air balloons and spring go together like Lily Allen's sweet little voice and the sentiment "F you."
Artist: Kat Dahlia
Summing It Up in 25 Words or Less: A frothy-fun malt-shop-pop ode to obsession -- er, love -- from our favorite hip-pop singer you've never heard of. Codependence never sounded so sexy.
Sign of Spring: Maybe it's the sheer number of songs with 'em right now, but those popcorning retro-R&B beats make us long for sunny days and ice cream.
Song: "Want Dem All"
Artist: Sean Paul
Summing It Up in 25 Words or Less: Urban pop's go-to dancehall head swaggers across a Benny Blanco-produced minefield of deep (yet kinda hollow) electro beats that throb like so many club lights.
Sign of Spring: Forget spring. Sean Paul's "Temperature" always feels more like summer.
Song: "I'm a Freak"
Artist: Enrique Iglesias feat. Pitbull
Summing It Up in 25 Words or Less: Enrique shifts into live-for-the-moment-club-playah mode on the un-freakiest song about freaks ever. Even Pitbull can't give these bouncing but not exactly sexy beats any edge.
Sign of Spring: Eh, we're not really inspired to peel off any of our winter layers yet.
Song: "The Man"
Artist: Aloe Blacc
Summing It Up in 25 Words or Less: Guttural saxes, bright horns, a gospel choir, handclaps. This spirited slice of inspiration soul couldn't be more different from Blacc's breakout cameo on "Wake Me Up".
Sign of Spring: More retro, Motownish beats. Apparently, we are destined to spend spring in the '60s.
Song: "Can't Remember to Forget You"
Artist: Shakira feat. Rihanna
Summing It Up in 25 Words or Less: Eschewing sleek beats one expects from a dance pop duet of this wattage, these divas went for an earthier ska-skewed sound that blends their voices well.
Sign of Spring: Definitely. This breezy little number would sound so good blasting out our rolled-down windows.
Song: "Let It Go"
Artist: Idina Menzel
Summing It Up in 25 Words or Less: A soaring anthem of pluck and inspiration driven by Broadway belting and melismatic acrobatics. (That could describe any Menzel song, from Rent to Wicked. This one is about snow.)
Sign of Spring: Well, it's from Frozen, so ...
Song: "Talk Dirty"
Artist: Jason DeRulo feat. 2 Chainz
Summing It Up in 25 Words or Less: Derulo's club pop slinkiness + 2 Chainz' swagger + beats from electro-Gypsy outfit Balkan Beat Box + A LOT of hokey-but-hot travel innuendo = one sexy single.
Sign of Spring: Hmmm ... not exactly springlike or particularly seasonal at all. But hey, "your booty don't need explaining." That is all.
Summing It Up in 25 Words or Less: More slip-n-sliding vocals and hip-hop-biting/baiting, sung from "we" perspective by teen queen of pop cultural critique. Resistance is futile.
Sign of Spring: Well, actually, it's autumn in New Zealand.
Artist: American Authors
Summing It Up in 25 Words or Less: Strummy, sing-alongable, earnestly warbled, folksy relationship processing from the "Best Day of My Life" banjo rockers. The pop folk revival is far from over.
Sign of Spring: Banjos sound like sunshine to our ears!