Lil Nas X Wrote 2021's "Hey Ya"
Plus Yvette, 박혜진 Park Hye Jin, HTRK, The War On Drugs
Helloooooo welcome back to the Unskippables, my take on the five songs you need to hear this week. Finally, a week with a major label event album that has actual hits!
THE UNSKIPPABLES #7
The War On Drugs - I Don’t Live Here Anymore
The War On Drugs have a songwriting superpower, and it’s making the lane between “Young Turks” and solo Don Henley feel vibrant and fresh. “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” dares even higher heights than their 2014 peak “Red Eyes,” which also rode a huge chorus straight into FM glory - and their latest banks on big, chorused guitars to sail directly into “the heartland by way of Sunset Studios in 1989.” The song isn’t a throwback - it feels unbothered by the present, but also oblivious of the past.
Lil Nas X - THAT’S WHAT I WANT
Is it corny to root for this song and this album considering it’s a Big Industry Thing? I asked my Good Opinion Haver and loyal Unskippables reader friend Ross Scarano why the timeline rallies behind Lil Nas X - “The internet roots for Lil Nas X because he uses the internet savvily --he can read the room because he grew up here.”
Case in point - the video for “THATS WHAT I WANT” is just as savvy with controversy as the other videos for MONTERO’s singles, but what strikes me is the joy of the song itself. Where the Willow Smiths and Olivia Rodrigos heavily pull from the Paramores and the Evanescences of the world, “THATS WHAT I WANT” is a cheerier steal from early 2000’s pop-punk, stealing moves from “Hey Ya,” down to the 1-2-3-4 count-in. It’s obvious, it’s big, and after a stream of less-than-thrilling Big Album Events, it’s nice hearing something deliver big hooks in addition to the big event.
YVETTE - Best Intentions
YVETTE flipped the expectations of industrial post-HEALTH menace on their debut LP, Process, finding paisley-tinged pop treats amidst clattering noise. Their followup album, How The Garden Grows, is out today, and “Best Intentions” is a perfect example of the album’s interest in rising up from the basement and into the clouds, one of many tracks where the instruments float like a cement-colored Debussy amidst insistent drums and Ian Curtis-esque lamentations. Come for the roar, stay for the melancholia.
박혜진 Park Hye Jin - Let’s Sing Let’s Dance
I initially was put off by the obvious flip of the chords from “My Boo,” but the soft-focus four on the floor beat won me over by the end of the song. The simple, clanky 909-esque beat is driving yet intimate, recalling the lo-fi leanings of DJ Seinfeld or Ross From Friends.
HTRK - Valentina
The latest HTRK album delivers summer-into-fall grey tones, tapping into a woozy chorus and echo to deliver the same sudden sadness of Kurt Vile’s early albums. The songs feel pulled out of the air, evaporating just as quickly.
Dennis Parker - Like An Eagle
As we’re entering the September - November stretch of perfect weather to walk around New York, I present to you an all time Walking Around New York song.
A deep cut from peak Casablancas disco excess, Dennis Parker (aka Wade Nichols aka Dennis Posa) was a porn star and leather bar regular in the 70s before making a single disco EP for the label in 1979. His whole story is worth reading here, but “Like An Eagle” is a longing disco triumph even without any context. The strutting verse lead to a slightly strange and yearning major-to-minor hook, and the video is pure old school Times Square, matching the sleaze of the strings and guitars in the track.
That’s it! See everyone next week!