YYY: Lil Nas X, “That’s What I Want” – Anyone who still regards Lil Nas X as a one (or maybe two or three) hit wonder is officially out of touch. Sure, he blew up thanks to meme culture, but his own unique brand of shrewd viral marketing and frank authenticity has granted him a kind of longevity that would have been hard to fathom right after “Old Town Road” blew up. Now, Lil Nas officially has a debut album, Montero, and a slew of new songs that are either already hits or on track to become hits. Case in point, Lil Nas’s new song and video “That’s What I Want.”
The track is arguably Lil Nas X’s most vulnerable to date, weaving a tale of desire for a romantic relationship, not just a flurry of mindless hookups. He’s pining over “that afro black boy with the gold teeth” and “wonder[s] if he got the G or the B.” The fact that a mainstream star like Lil Nas X is openly rapping about being a Black man who desires Black men still feels revolutionary—even in 2021—and it’s a boldness that, in true Lil Nas X form, bleeds into the song’s official music video. In it, Lil Nas X is a high school football player who hooks up with a teammate on the low, but years later comes to find that this man—the love of his life—has settled down and started a family with a woman. A distraught Lil Nas X later walks down a wedding aisle, alone, sing-rapping, “I want, someonе to love me/I need, someonе who needs me.”
It’s a fun video, with a very goofy product placement for Durex and a great lil’ Brokeback Mountain reference. It’s going to piss off the right people, just like the rest of his ultra gay-agenda videos, and Lil Nas X is going to troll his haters all the way to the bank, as usual. This is how you do an album rollout. Take note, everybody. —Ashley Reese
Just give me the album, please: James Blake, “Famous Last Words” – Something tells me there is a new James Blake album coming in the very near future, and if that is the case, I would be open to it, if only because James Blake is an artist who traffics in mostly vibes, and so his albums are better than his singles. I understand that makes little sense, but all I want from this new single is for it to be accompanied by maybe 12 other songs, on an album that I can listen to while walking through the strangely muggy streets of Brooklyn in early fall. Say what you will about Taylor Swift being sweater music—the real sad girl fall vibes are in the hands of this British man who loves Jameela Jamil, and that’s that. —Megan Reynolds
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Y: Syd and Smino, “Right Track” – Syd’s voice is as luscious as always (even over increasingly poppy material), and the queerness of her accompanying imagery is as matter of fact as ever. But for me, this one’s all about the guitars that sit somewhere between Sugar Ray’s “Fly” and a late-’90s Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs production. Authentic! —Rich Juzwiak
Absolutely: Snail Mail, “Valentine” – Snail Mail’s new song “Valentine” shows off a more mature side of singer Lindsey Jordan’s vocals, resulting in a polished track that feels less like a departure and more like an enhancement. The song has all the classic elements of a Snail Mail banger: Wistful, forlorn, and devastatingly lovesick. Maybe I’m stanning, but I legitimately get chills when the chorus hits and Jordan wails, “So why’d you wanna erase me?” She adds, “You always know where to find me when you change your mind,” and… woof, that hits. She always knows how to pour salt in a wound.
And for the record, the accompanying video is dark and delicious and full of blood. No notes! It rules! —AR
Y: Low, “Don’t Walk Away” – This late-album stunner from Low’s recently released (lucky) 13th album HEY WHAT finds the now-duo singing a gorgeous melody over gurgling noise. It’s as though we’re witnessing song come out of sonic slop, the emergence of coherence from chaos. At its heart is the song’s titular plea and its supporting data: “I have slept beside you now/For what seems a thousand years/A shadow in your night/The whisper in your ears.” This is the sound of fraught. —RJ
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