Music Reviews

Lana Del Rey Releases New Single

Our review of the new melancholy ballad.

Lana Del Rey proves once again that she is the queen of spooky lo-fi piano ballads. Her new single,"Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but I have it" is as lyrically dense as the long-winded title suggests, beautifully following Del Rey through a consideration of fame, family, and womanhood. But what sets the song apart is the juxtaposition of the timeless ballad style sung in Del Rey's lilting voice, and the modern violence of her words.

It's an objectively pretty song, but more importantly, it commits to its own theatricality whole heartedly. It's perfectly stylized teenage angst forcing every listener to feel something of the pubescent-glory of a 15-year-old girl weeping into her pink bed spread, mourning everything and nothing. Its absurdly melodramatic, and yet somehow earnest and hopeful too.

Among the best lines are:

"I've been tearing around in my fucking nightgown/24/7 Sylvia Plath"

"Shaking my ass is the only thing that's/Got this black narcissist off my back/She couldn't care less, and I never cared more/So there's no more to say about that"

"Servin' up God in a burnt coffee pot for the triad/Hello, it's the most famous woman you know on the iPad/Calling from beyond the grave, I just wanna say, 'Hi, Dad.'"

Each line is written so informally they sound like viral tweets, but what the song lacks in grandiose language, it more than makes up for in concentration of feeling. Paired with the spooky, airy soundscape and perfectly minimal production, the poetry of the single creates an inescapable swell of nostalgia.

"Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but I have it" clads you in a silk, victorian-style nightgown, places you in a candle lit room with a baby grand piano...but then it covers the baby grand in lines of coke, hangs Taylor Lautner posters and cosmo clippings on the walls, and adds a strobe light. It's the perfect absurd teen anthem for this particular moment in time, and leaves us in anticipation of Lana Del Rey's upcoming album, Norman Fucking Rockwell, expected out sometime this year.

Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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Ali Caldwell is the kind of singer who's so much more than a great voice. Sure, she has beautiful vocals and a great range, but she's also deeply introspective, fully understanding her position as a representative voice and inspiration for young black women. Her lyrics explore self-love, relationships, and empowerment in ways that are relatable to her listeners, allowing them to fully connect with her music.

The New Jersey-born singer got her start in Xhale, a three-person R&B group which opened for Boyz II Men. But it wasn't until season 11 of The Voice that Caldwell came to prominence as a solo artist. Coached by Miley Cyrus and widely considered a frontrunner for the duration of the competition, Caldwell ultimately finished as a semi-finalist after giving stunning performances of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" and Rihanna's "Sledgehammer." She released her first commercial single, "To Be Loved," in 2018 and, coming off a recent stint on The Four: Battle For Stardom, was inspired to write her new song as a means of self-love and acceptance.

Caldwell dropped by to talk with Popdust's own Deascent about the importance of her family's support for her music career, female empowerment, and what it's like being a role model for young women.

Caldwell performed an impressive rendition of her new song "Colors," an upbeat anthem about letting yourself experience life to its fullest instead of limiting your view to black and white. Afterwards, Caldwell showed off even more of her vocal range in "Why I Sing," a love ballad about receiving artistic inspiration through a great relationship.

Ali Caldwell "Colors"

Ali Caldwell "Why I Sing"

Then, Deascent forced Caldwell to contemplate the realities of eating human hair and damp tortilla chips. What sort of evil box would ask these questions, and why would anyone allow it to dwell in their office? Can anyone save us from the magic box, or do the questions it forces us to ask fall on deaf ears?

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Coyote Eyes Releases 'Rain'

The LA songstress combines her haunting voice with powerful lyricism.

Shervin Lainez

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Coyote Eyes, a.k.a. Jo Eubanks, is a singer, songwriter, and poet from New York City. She began training as a classical singer at age 11 and was dubbed a "young Sylvia Plath" by age 16 for her jarring poetry and memoir pieces.

Her premiere release, "Rain," mixes haunting vocals, evocative lyrics, and hypnotic beats to create a tragic and seductive soundscape. The singer says the song was born from a moment of deep sadness: "I wrote 'Rain' at 5am on one of those rare rainy mornings in LA. My Great Love had left me and I walked through the world like a zombie. For months. It was as I'd imagine coming off of heroin would be like: I would shake and cry and sweat and throw up and pass out and do it all over again. To this day I've never felt heartbreak – or love – like that. One day I turned over in bed next to my new lover and it just hit me – this emptiness, this hollowness. I grabbed a pen and listened to the rain. I would write a line then repeat to myself 'I can't do this,' then write another line and say it again."

Shervin LainezPress Photo

The song is reminiscent of a softer Evanescence or perhaps a darker Alanis Morissette, with powerful female vocals combined with lyrics about heartbreak and self empowerment.

But the world almost never got the chance to hear "Rain." Eubanks said, "I never intended on releasing this song. I never intended on recording it! It is truly one of the most private and vulnerable pieces of my soul and I intended on it remaining that way. But from that first moment in the studio with my producer I AM SNOW ANGEL (Julie Kathryn), I knew there was no going back. Julie is a trusted mentor and friend, and bringing this song to life with her was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life."

She learned an important lesson from the creation of "Rain", a lesson she hopes fans will take to heart. "When you feel something, get it out. Write it, paint it, sing it, play it. All too often we, myself included, run away from uncomfortable feelings and events. As hard as it is, that's where the magic, and the healing, begins."

For more from Coyote Eyes, follow her on Facebook, Soundcloud, or visit her Website.

Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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Music Features

Gabrielle Aplin Owns Her Flaws

The superstar releases new music video for "My Mistakes"

Ellen Offready

Gabrielle Aplin first rose to fame posting breathtaking covers of popular songs on her youtube channel. Today, the singer boasts an impressive list chart toppers and a certified gold record in the UK. Her ethereal voice and captivating piano melodies offer a welcome reprieve from the EDM-fueled pop trends of the day, transporting listeners to a soft world of tulle dresses and goosebump-inducing high notes. While her new song, "My Mistakes," may at first strike you as melancholy, the singer assured us that it's actually a hopeful number about owning your flaws and finding happiness despite them.

Gabrielle Aplin - My Mistake (Official Video)

Your new song is a powerful portrait of someone struggling to come to terms with their own sadness. What inspired it?

It's, for me, more about being honest with yourself and owning your flaws. I wrote it with a few people on a day where I felt like I couldn't write and was unmotivated. So we decided to do something that required us all not really trying and just being purely honest. "My Mistake" was the result!

How do you think this song differs from your previous releases? Were you trying to capture something new?

I definitely wouldn't say I tried to capture something new but I'd never tried to write a song that involved no thinking! In my previous releases, I got really into sounds and production. For me, this one was purely lyrics.

You started your career by posting covers to Youtube. What's it been like to transition to creating your own music?

It's been really great. I feel like covering songs [was] a great way to develop my own songwriting skills. I was also able to be a part of a great, supportive online community.

The music industry is so focused on rap and hip-hop right now, yet you continue to release these beautiful piano-heavy ballads. Do you ever feel tempted to move further into the world of pop? How do you maintain your artistic integrity despite outside pressures?

I never really feel tempted to do anything really. I just focus on writing good songs because I believe they're timeless and transcend current trends. I just write what I want. I definitely don't feel like I've avoided pop. My previous two EPs were typical "pop" productions. I'm inspired by artists like Robyn who write honest relatable songs that you can also move to.

Tell us a little bit about the music video for "My Mistake." Why the dress?

I wanted the video to be really reclusive. Alone but not lonely. I love the way that tulle looks on camera. It's soft and fills space and moves gracefully.

What do you want from your career in coming years? What about your personal life?

I'm a very simple person, just give me a load of dogs and some food and I'm happy! Career wise I'd be very happy for it to be ticking along as it is right now for a long time!

Ellen Offready

You tour extensively, and given how vocally demanding your songs are, do you ever struggle to deliver the same level of performance night after night? What do you do to maintain your voice?

I used to struggle because I didn't adjust my care routine to the growing demands. I'm at a place now where I'm aware of my boundaries and how far I can push myself. It's a lot about saying no.

This song is the first on your upcoming new album, what can you tell us about the album?

The new album is pretty eclectic for me. I've been writing it for a while now. I've experimented with lots of sounds, collaborated with amazing producers and I've just focused on writing songs that mean something to me and hopefully the people who will listen to them!

How did growing up in a small village influence your development as a musician?

I really love nature and things just being the way they naturally are, not over complicated. I guess, in some way, that could've affected my approach to writing.

Do you ever struggle to balance the demands of your career with your personal life? Have you had to sacrifice any of the usual rights of passage of growing up in order to pursue your career?

Maybe someone else my age would say yes, but really I don't feel like I've missed out. I didn't want to go to university. I'm not into going out on a Friday and drinking etc. I guess it could come across as boring but I just see it as knowing what I want and what I don't.

What can you tell us about your songwriting process?

I take it easy. I try to write a lot but I don't pull my hair out over it. It's always been very intuitive when I'm collaborating or working solo.

Is your onstage persona similar to who you are in real life?

Absolutely. I try to keep it laid back and honest and chat to the audience as if I was offstage.

What would you say to a young person who wants to have a career like yours?

I'd say go for it! Be yourself and have fun.

Check out more from Gabrielle on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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INTERVIEW | Kaleena Zanders is stronger than she's ever been

Kaleena talks about coming out, her love of House music, and life after the Olympics

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If you don't already know her, you should. Kaleena Zanders' power ballad "Stronger Than I've Ever Been" is shaking us to the core!

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