Patty Griffin ft. Robert Plant. “Ohio” from American Kid. New West, 2013.
Heavily atmospheric Americana built on guitar harmonics, deep drum patterns and buzzsaw bass, this is folk music via Jesus and Mary Chain, bhangra via the Appalachian Trail. The opening notes of the song flow like the Ohio River of the title, accompanied by clicking rhythms like a chorus of crickets at nightfall. Patty Griffin’s voice is at once angelic and worn as she evokes a summery scene of star-crossed lovers, faces lit by moonlight and fireflies, half-hidden beneath the branches of an old oak tree. Maybe the most beautiful new song of the summer.
Lorde. “Royals” from The Love Club EP. Universal, 2012.
It’s no wonder that Lorde’s first big US single features the teen songwriter telling us she can “be our ruler/you can call me Queen B”, as her story really does read like a fairytale. She was signed to Universal on the strength of a high-school talent show video, has toured all over her native New Zealand and Australia, and released an EP that could easily produce four top 40 radio singles –all this and she’s SIXTEEN years old. The Love Club EP sounds great, wedding some of the youthful energy of Ke$ha with the moody sonic palette of The XX, but the strength is in pop outsider Lorde’s refreshing lyrics, like the arresting chorus of “Royals”:
Gold teeth, grey goose, dripping in the bathroom. Blood stains, ball gowns, trashing a hotel room. We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams. Krystal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece, jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash, we don’t care. We aren’t caught up in your love affair.
All the tropes of a Ricky Rosé song, turned on their head and turned into an exhortation to get your damn priorities straight. That’s gangsta.
Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell and T.I.. “Blurred Lines” from
Being seduced by Robin Thicke just sounds so nice. Even when he’s trying to be a bit dirty, he’s just a little sweetheart — I mean, look at those baby blue eyes! The video is clutch, just Robin, T.I. and Pharell vamping and being really goofy with a bunch of models, climaxing with a inflatable sculpture informing us that “Robin Thicke has a Big D”.
By the way, when did Robin Thicke infiltrate every aspect of music culture? It’s like one minute he’s fishing in upper Saskatchewan with Jason Seaver, and the next he’s writing every good pop song of the 00s, singing the chorus on perhaps the greatest Lil’ Wayne track, and guest coaching on The Voice. #thicke indeed.