Dev - "Honey Dip"
Date: Feb. 6
Time: 8:02 p.m.
Location: One of those random sneaker stores in SoHo, looking for shoes I would eventually buy at Foot Locker, and then return to another Foot Locker because they were too big, only to find that my actual size was uncomfortable anyway.
Dev is known as—if anything!—the girl who sings the chorus on proto-EDM/rap crossover one-hit wonder "Like a G6," but that's actually a bit unfair to her because the song was built around a piece of a solo song she had written previously (which was apparently actually released after "Like a G6," go figure). In any event, I've heard some people say that her solo stuff is a bit underrated but I never was able to get into it. This is a nifty song R&B song with sweetly goofy lyrics — "Like my sweet and sour chicken needs rice" — that are grounded by the sincerity of the delivery. I've been into goofy love songs again lately. This is like one of those old Cassie demos that lives in the darkest corners of the music internet that is remembered by 15 people, except it got released to an audience of, say... 25 people?
B.o.B. - Not For Long (ft. Trey Songz)
Date: Feb. 15
Time: 5:34 p.m.
Location: Whipping a Zipcar that I needed to return at 5:35 down a one-way street in Bushwick on the way back to its garage after spending three hours at Ikea.
This song starts off with the chorus, which I'm considering a deliberate trick since everyone involved knew that a B.o.B. verse was going to come right after. That chorus is done by Trey Songz, whose voice I didn't recognize because he is singing in this weirdly thin, high register, almost like a demo that he said he would flesh out later but then didn't because he has more important things going on than some B.o.B shit. I really thought this was maybe some dancehall song I'd never heard because the beat (by Bay secret weapon P-Lo, of all people) is mostly just this light and fruity little keyboard melody—needless to say I was disappointed when I looked at my phone and saw it was a B.o.B. song, though that disappointment was tempered by relief that I didn't crash the car that I was furiously trying to park no more than 30 seconds later. Anyway, a dancehall singer should really should use this as a riddim.
Wash - "Can't Trust Thots" (ft. French Montana)
Date: Feb. 21
Time: 7:22 p.m.
Location: In an Uber SUV with three friends post-snowstorm going to eat dinner at a Cuban restaurant in D.C.
Everything about this experience was great. Hearing French Montana rapping over a dinky organ house beat about girls trying to sneak selfies while he's sleeping was great. Hearing some random dude interpolating "No Scrubs" over a dinky organ house beat was great. Finding out that the random dude chose "Wash" as his rap name was great. Hearing the generic old white voiceover dude they use on rap and R&B stations say the word "thots" was great. Just a very rewarding few minutes. Why would you name yourself Wash? I still think about this.
Jungle - "Drops"
Date: Feb 23
Time: 11:20 p.m.
Location: My couch.
This played over the credits of the Looking episode where Patrick gets hammered at his party and demands to make a toast in which he ends up insulting all of his friends. Why did he do that? What is wrong with the people who created this show? What a cruel and stupid thing to do a character who is already conceptually terrible. This song sounds like exactly what you would expect to hear over the credits of a "cool" HBO show—some dude muttering in a muffled voice over a half-there dance beat. It sounds like Jai Paul but not so jagged, which to some people is probably code for "Jai Paul but not as interesting," which is probably fair, but I don't really fuck that hard with Jai Paul. This sounds like hearing "Days Go By" during a lucid dream, and I'm always trying to hear shit that reminds me of "Days Go By." Not sure you should be able to be a UK dubstep artist called "Jungle" though, good lord.
Jagged Edge - "Let's Get Married"
Date: Feb. 27
Time: 8:50 p.m.
Location: Mission Chinese, with my boyfriend and two friends and four other people we didn't know sitting at the other half of the table, eating wings and some sort of naan-type bread with probably the best butter I've ever had.
This was my first time at Mission Chinese and they play music extremely loud, perhaps too loud. Like I love J.T. Money's "Who Dat," I probably had not heard it since middle school and it's a completely incredible song, but I'm trying to have a conversation. That said, the playlist was the best thing I've ever heard in any restaurant and better than most parties I've been to in New York. I didn't recognize this Jagged Edge song somehow—what a perfect late-90's R&B song! Ballads written by Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael-Cox are some of the absolute best music ever, so I'm mostly acknowledging this to publicly shame myself for not having known this one.
Somethin' For the People - "My Love is the Shhh!"
Date: Feb. 27
Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Mission Chinese, with my boyfriend and two friends and four other people we didn't know sitting at the other half of the table, eating a whole fish.
Mission Chinese really put me up on some good late-90's R&B ballads I had never heard. This was apparently a big pop hit in 1997, which I guess was sort of the last gasp for Boyz II Men and Jodeci-style R&B, right before Timbaland and the Neptunes took the baton from DeVante Swing and Babyface and really started to ride their own wave. It's both nice and scary knowing that there are probably hundreds of other songs that sound just like this and are as good that I've never heard and don't know exist. I was nine when this track came out and I always feel lucky about starting to become aware of pop culture when this stuff was ruling the radio. That was a long time ago, though....................................
Soul For Real - "Every Little Thing I Do"
Date: Feb. 27
Time: 9:19 p.m.
Location: Mission Chinese, with my boyfriend and two friends and four other people we didn't know sitting at the other half of the table, eating brisket and black kale.
And another one. Mission Chinese was incredible on a number of levels. I love how this opens with harmonizing, it's like an outro put at the beginning of the song, or as if it was engineered for an easy transition in DJ sets (maybe it was). The whole song sort of feels like an edit, like the verses don't exist as standalone parts as much as they sort of float in and out of the chorus, which is circles back over and over as harmonies are draped over the top of it. What a secretly weird and vibey but amazing song. Poke & Tone did this, and they are geniuses.
Keith Urban & Miranda Lambert - "We Were Us"
Date: March 2
Time: 12:18 p.m.
Location: Driving down the Florida Keys with my boyfriend, looking at vast teal and blue waters (or maybe it was some worn down storefronts).
Switching gears. I've never listened to much country music but whenever I hear country radio now it feels like the most fertile place in music. I always figured that Keith Urban was too pretty to make good music, but this is a really nice song, the chorus has almost a disco lilt but it's really just a blush. Just a nice and warm track. It felt perfect listening to country music in the Keys, which, depending on where you are or when you happen to be looking out the window, either evokes the warm glow of day drinking or the creeping sadness of permanent economic slowdown.
Lee Brice - Drinking Class
Date: March 2
Location: Driving down the Florida Keys with my boyfriend, looking at vast teal and blue waters (or maybe it was some worn down storefronts), immediately after hearing a Keith Urban song.
This guy is a pretty big deal in country from what I vaguely understand of him, and this is a really meat & potatoes track that has the same kind of stadium rock steez as Eric Church's stuff. I really like the verses on this—the stomps-as-drums somehow almost feel as delicate as the guitar plucks, and the humming is a nice touch. The chorus almost feels whatever, actually, but hey.
Tune in next time for more good songs I probably should have known but actually, on the contrary, did not.