In my oh-so-humble opinion, May was the month of singles and albums. I found myself listening almost exclusively to these new releases. Due to this, the artists that dominated the month were Demi Lovato (as per usual) and Christina Aguilera. I’ve never had a chance to talk about this, but I utterly idolized Christina in middle school. Before I hitched my wagon to Demi and Kelly Clarkson, it was hitched directly to Ms. Aguilera. I guess you could say they’re my Holy Trinity. Anyway, here’s all the music I thought was absolutely banger in May:
- “Fall in Line (feat. Demi Lovato)” by Christina Aguilera- As a stan of both Demi and Christina, this song is everything to me. A mid-tempo power ballad, the ladies belt out this female empowerment anthem. Their harmonies are everything to me. And that note where Demi straight up turns into a saxophone? Phenomenal! This song deserves to smash.
- “Sway” by Tove Stryke- Split between rapid-fire verses and slow, flowing choruses, this song is another triumph for Tove. It’s surprisingly sweet for a song about a potential hook-up. For a lowkey pop jam, check this one out.
- “Solo (feat. Demi Lovato)” by Clean Bandit- Speaking of songs pop jams, this EDM track is one hell of a bop. Split between EDM stylings and strings, this song is as fun as it is original. Demi sounds great on the track, though I do think they used a little too much autotune on her (it was done for effect, but still). That said, this is one blast of a double entendre. This song is already on the fast track to song of the summer and, boy, is it well-deserved.
- “This is America” by Childish Gambino- This song is going to be the political anthem of the year. Childish Gambino raps about gun violence and the way America uses entertainment media as a distraction. The video just ramps this up by a thousand. I’m not going to get too into this since this is a song everyone’s heard by now, but just know that it is easily one of Childish Gambino’s best.
- “Twice” by Christina Aguilera- The first ballad to come from Liberation, Christina reflects on past loves and choices. Even though she got hurt, she would still do it all again (whether that be reliving the past or falling in love again). Her vocals are so emotive and raw, you really feel what she’s feeling. The song really knows how to build, every decision meticulously made. The opening is an a capella chorus of Christinas. It’s a gorgeous song that really bodes well for the overall album sound.
- “First Burn” performed by Ari Afsar, Julia Harriman, Lexi Lawson, Rachel Ann Go, and Shoba Narayan- If you’re a fan of Hamilton, then you know “Burn.” Well, this is the original version. In this version, Eliza is much more reactive. The song feels much angrier than the final version. It does, however, include some more details (like the fact that Eliza knew Alexander was into Angelica). All five of these women sound absolutely fabulous. Even though I think I still prefer Philippa Soo’s, this version is still fantastic.
- “Messy” by Kiiara- I was never a fan of “Gold,” so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoy this song. It’s a nervous electropop song in which Kiiara is scared her relationship is moving too fast. She does this catchy stutter on the chorus (“Let’s stop/Before it get m-m-m-m-messy) and sounds incredibly earnest in a way she hasn’t before. Sure, the pre-chorus’ melody is lifted directly from “Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande, but it’s still a fun little ditty.
- “Accelerate (feat. Ty Dolla $ign and 2 Chainz)” by Christina Aguilera- The first teaser song released from Liberation, this song takes a couple listens before you fall in love with it. It’s somehow both messy and polished. My only complaint is 2 Chainz. Why does he insist on yelling over everything? My favorite part of the song is the outro— it’s so classic Xtina!
- Ann by The Front Bottoms- As you can tell by my review, I’m very fond of this EP. It’s a bit more rock & roll than their usual stuff and I love that. It’s their most emotional body of work to date. My favorites are probably “Today is Not Real” and “Somebody Else.” The Front Bottoms really stepped it up on these six fantastic songs.
- Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe- I fell in love with this album because the entire visual album was on VH1 one day. I absolutely adored it. Janelle is an actual genius. My favorites on the album are “Screwed,” “Django Jane,” Pynk,” “Make Me Feel,” and “Americans.” If she doesn’t get nominated for a Grammy, I’m tearing the entire Recording Academy down.
- Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic Monkeys- For their big comeback, Arctic Monkeys went with a concept album. I’m happy to say it works really well. Taking place in, obviously, a hotel and casino on Tranquility Base, this isn’t so much a space opera as it is a space vacation. The Arctic Monkeys style still rings true, especially on my favorite tracks “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino,” “Golden Trunks,” “Four Out of Five,” and “She Looks Like Fun.” As I said in my review, this album draws clear inspiration from David Bowie. Grimy and raw, Arctic Monkeys’ comeback was well worth waiting for.
- Mean Girls Original Broadway Cast Recording- I was lucky enough to not only listen to this soundtrack, but to see the show. Spoiler alert: they’re both really good. The musical really captures the spirit of the source material. Any changes are minimal. The best songs belong to Janice, Damien, and Regina (ex. “A Cautionary Tale,” “Apex Predator,” “Someone Gets Hurt,” “Revenge Party,” “Stop,” and “I’d Rather Be Me”). I’ve been eagerly anticipating this musical since it was first announced and I’m so glad it lives up to expectations.
What music were you into in May? Tell me about it in the comments!