The weekend has arrived, and not a day too soon. We've seen Lady Gaga bum-rush the world with "You and I" two days early, Beyonce serenade the Ticketmaster- and scalper-blessed and a lot of people make a lot of tiny disses. We all need a break.
1. SHANIA TWAIN - "NAH!"
A recent remix of "You and I"--or at least the scraps of it we've caught in advance--sounds more like Shania Twain's album Up!, also produced by Mutt Lange, than anything else. The inspireality-TV circuit and vocal problems have made Shania relinquish this sound, so it's not entirely surprising that Lady Gaga would annex it for her Nebraska dreaming. Is it the direction we want Gaga to take permanently? Not at this stage in her career. But you can't deny it's responsible for some good songs, like this mid-album stomper. You almost wonder whether Gaga actually sampled the backing vocals here--to our knowledge, she didn't, but still.
2. QUEEN - "KILLER QUEEN
Maybe you weren't all that excited about Mutt Lange being involved with Born This Way. Perhaps what piqued your interest was the contribution of Queen guitarist Brian May--which, admittedly, is a damn good get. "Killer Queen" is here because it has one of his better-known, more elaborate solos. It has absolutely nothing to do with "You and I" except personnel, but then again, it also feels wrong tying Queen to Born This Way in the first place. All angry emails to the Delete button, please.
3. LAURA MARLING - "SOPHIA"
The press Laura Marling gets is for being 21 and ridiculously talented, and her latest, "Sophia," could explain why. At first almost disconcertingly quiet, "Sophia" builds to a revival stomp, complete with "when the bell tolls for your last day / you'll be getting down on your knees to pray" refrain, that's bound to bring about some catharsis and about a dozen more folkie comparisons. On closer listen, it's also among the year's most fragile, tone-perfect songs about heartbreak, particularly for the specifics she leaves out. "I never did say whatever it was you did that day," Laura sings, and all you know is you'll never learn.
4. WILL SMITH - "GETTIN' JIGGY WITH IT"
Will Smith might be doing unspecified work on an unspecified new rap project, as opposed to the very-much-specified Men in Black 3 (which, come to think of it, will probably need a tie-in track.) There's not much point delving into Will's albums here, because if you're excited about this, it's likely because of one of five songs of so. We are not in Miami, and it won't be summertime much longer. So here's option three. You know what it sounds like.
5. NICOLA ROBERTS - "LUCKY DAY"
Nicola Roberts' team has learned a lesson from "Beat of My Drum"--namely, that people in the United States might want to watch her videos without having to resort to proxy tomfoolery. So here it is, above, as it was meant to be seen, and her stroll through colorful graffiti and neon SFX isn't all that far off from what we imagined after hearing the song. Which is still buoyant, by the way. Nicola's vocals enliven a lot.
For Beyonce, the Weeknd and the rest of what the week brought, click NEXT.
6. BEYONCE - "WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ME"
Two of us at the Popdust office, by our count, made it to Beyonce's Roseland Ballroom concert series. By now you've either gone, vicariously gone through YouTube and reviews or wish everyone would stop rubbing it in your face. So here's something that doesn't require coveted tickets: one of Beyonce's best videos that just missed the top ten on our singles countdown. Now forget the video (or its costumes, which are what you're really forgetting); the song's simultaneously joyous and desperate, pleading mixed with pizzazz mixed with frustration, and B nails all three emotions. Somehow still underrated.
7. THE WEEKND - "ROLLING STONE"
Perhaps this should be temporarily renamed the Popdust Wee-Hours-Of-The-Weekend-After-You've-Stumbled-Home-Or-Just-Can't-Sleep Playlist, because the Weeknd's music is designed to not sound right before 11:59 p.m. (Interpret that as optimistically or as cynically as you'd like.) His Thursday mixtape, released when you imagine it was, teeters between being menacing or maudlin; this one's thankfully representative more of the former.
8. PISTOL ANNIES - "BAD EXAMPLE"
Finally, inevitably burst out of its "exclusive!" confines, this is one of about three Pistol Annies songs that've debuted somewhere or other online. The Dixie Chicks comparisons have already come in, but at least on "Bad Example," Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley are looking more traditional. It's an old-fashioned storytelling song that, even though it wouldn't hurt to have another verse of story to tell, has enough barbs anyway to stick.
9. DAVID LYNCH - "GOOD DAY TODAY"
David Lynch's album is not terrible. In fact, it's a step or so above OK! Really, what can we even say here? The reason you're going to listen to this is because it's a song David Lynch made; there is absolutely nothing we can think of that'd pique your curiosity more.
10. DEMI LOVATO - "HERE WE GO AGAIN"
Our tiny attempt to keep Demi Lovato from being synonymous with "Skyscraper," which is only going to happen more over the next couple months. She gets Kelly Clarkson comparisons because a few years ago, her music sounded like "Since U Been Gone" stretched over a few albums. This is a good thing, and we hope to hear more of it.