The number one song this week is a charming little trifle from the reunited Jonas Brothers with far too many handclaps and the sort of whistled hook that was (like the Bros themselves) very popular in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration. It’s called “Sucker.” It’s fine. But these songs are better.
Anderson .Paak – “King James”
.Paak has streamlined his burbling throwback funk to a signature sound so immediately identifiable he risks heard-one-heard-’em-all redundancy. Here though his joy suffuses a easygoing political confidence, inspired by the actions of Kaepernick and, as the title indicates, LeBron: “If they build a wall, let's jump the fence, I'm over this.”
Frankie Cosmos – “Dancing”/”Tunnel”
The winning trick that sets Greta Kline’s small, dry vocals apart from her peers’ is that where their high notes crack to indicate momentarily overwhelming emotion, her voice instead briefly evaporates. These two tracks are the first in a series of digital-only, voice-and-piano tracks to be released under the name Haunted Items, and the sharp lyrics on each suggest that the ghost the title alludes to is an ex-lover: “I cry more times a day/Than you did in five years/You’ve bought more pairs of jeans/Than you’ve ever shed tears” and “I’ve got hair now, that’s never even heard of you.”
E-40 feat. Milla – “Melt”
As old heads stepping to the young guns goes, “I don’t drip, I melt” pops like good-natured (if slightly hair-splitting) one upmanship instead of curdling into mumbling-kids-these-days resentment. If, like me, you can’t get enough of this Bay Area’s vet’s Silly Putty syllables, you’ll be happy to hear him snap and distend lines like “Northern California life is rougher than a Brillo pad.” If not, maybe you’ll prefer the other 30 tracks he’s sure to release before the year’s out.
Tierra Whack – “Gloria”
Whack dropped “Wasteland” last week, her third new track since this column spotlighted “Only Child” in February. But though I’m late in getting to it, I slightly prefer last week’s Whack track, “Gloria,” with its chirpy little hook and smart little boasts: “I'm gonna win regardless/Swear that I work the hardest/Most of y'all dudes are garbage/I'm a starving artist.” And I can’t wait for the album.
Elle Varner feat. Wale – “Pour Me”
It’s been seven damn years since Varner’s last album, Perfectly Imperfect, and its brilliant single “Refill.” Since then this robust R&B sensualist has had a full-length shelved by a label that subsequently dropped her; like a lot of her peers, she deserves way more respect. The title’s a slightly overworked pun, but Varner puts her all into this track, especially the fluttering hook of “Thinking’bout you/Drinkin’ ‘bout you”
Sofía Reyes feat. Rita Ora & Anitta – “R.I.P.”
Casually bilingual, casually assertive, casually danceable, this three-woman funeral for “the bullshit” skips along blithely, as voices blend and switch off like an ad hoc girl group. Bim-bari-bom-bom, motherfuckers.
Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2019 playlist.