Anybody who's anybody is going to be at the Coachella Music Festival this weekend in Indio, California, but who says you have to be somebody to read Popdust? (Hey, if we were there ourselves, we probably wouldn't be writing this article right now.) Anyway, you don't need a three-day marathon of live acts to properly rock out this weekend—we've got you well covered on that front, and you don't even have to register a wristband or deal with disappointingly damp desert weather to enjoy it. Take a read through, and sample our Spotify playlist at the bottom of each page.
KANYE WEST FEAT. BIG SEAN, PUSHA T & 2 CHAINZ
Holy crap is this song good. Even Big Sean's barrage of semi-cringe-worthy ass puns that kicks the song off isn't nearly enough to derail it—it's more about Sean's simple "swerve" utterances over the Bollywood-sounding hook, that "Niggas in Paris"-worthy head-nodding beat, and the super-creeping synths that take things to the next level underneath Kanye's verse. The rapping is good but it almost don't matter—this could be a DJ Khaled song (with no guests!) and still be a must-listen every time it comes on the radio.
OF MONSTERS AND MEN, "LITTLE TALKS"
You heard of these guys yet? Seems like even if not, you will soon enough—the buzz is mounting, enough for a top ten debut on the Billboard album charts and a first appearance on the lower stretches of the Hot 100 this week as well. The hook for this band is "The Icelandic Mumford and Sons!" (don't worry, the vocalist isn't Bjork or the guy from Sigur Ros) and it's not hard to see them enjoying a year-long commercial slow-burn like M&S; did in 2011—though in reality, single "Little Talks" has way more in common with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes' intimate 2010 anthem "Home." Bet Sharpe and company are a little pissed they weren't twelve months or so later on that one.
MARY J. BLIGE, "DON'T MIND"
No, unfortunately, Spotify doesn't have the jingle from Mary J. Blige's future-classic Burger King Crispy Chicken Snack Wrap commercial just yet—might have to wait for MJB's next Greatest Hits album for that, but they do have "Don't Mind," the song from last year's My Life II that the tune is based on. Anyway, you know the Snack Wrap lyrics well enough by now to add those in yourself: "Crispy chicken...fresh lettuce....three cheeses...ranch dressing..."
ALABAMA SHAKES, "HOLD ON"
If you were getting tired of the Black Keys and looking for that latest modern rock act that you and your dad could agree on, the Alabama Shakes might be just the ticket. The name smacks of Trying Too Hard, but the song is just right, a groovy little singalong with hips to spare—the kind of song the Black Crowes would pull off back in the days when they didn't suck. And yes, that is actually a woman singing—Ms. Brittany Howard, who really puts the semi-achievement of Juliet Simms' performance of The Police's "Roxanne" on The Voice into proper perspective.
GUNS 'N ROSES, "NIGHTRAIN"
Whoever ends up showing at the Rock Hall induction ceremonies this weekend to represent Guns 'N Roses, they probably won't be playing this underrated Appetite For Destruction jam, but damn what a ripper. Classic rock is certainly no stranger to cowbell usage, but this song is up there with Nazareth's "Hair of the Dog," Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" and (of course) Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" when discussing songs that best maximize the percussive instrument's potential. Maybe Axl can show up just to clang that shit—how great would that be?
For lots more weekend jams, including a Gotye deep cut and double-representation of everyone's favorite non-cardinal direction, click NEXT.
GIVERS, "UP UP UP"
The latest (and perhaps most extreme) of Glee's "Really? That song?" cover choices was this Vampire Weekend-via-Tom Tom Club jaunt courtesy of Lafayette, Louisiana indie group Givers. The song's use in Glee doesn't make much more sense even after watching the out-of-context episode clip—something about rollercoasters and wheelchairs—but that doesn't make the song any less bubbly or buoyant. Another good weird call, Glee music supervision team.
LOVERANCE FEAT. 50 CENT, "UP!"
Long as we're headed skyward, we may as well continue the trend with one of the year's most subtly addictive hip-hop jams. "Jams" isn't even the right word—despite the aggressive hook ("Up" isn't so much of a direction as the manner in which LoveRance beats the pussy, shoutout to the Ying Yang Twins) the song is far too gentle to really be considered club-ready. The two-note synth-xylophone hook is so soft and lulling that it sounds like it could be on one of those Rockabye Baby! compilations, giving the song's unrestrainedly filthy lyrics an odd sweetness to them. Somehow, "UP!" is just the perfect title for this song.
GOTYE, "I FEEL BETTER"
With Gotye set to possibly supplant Fun. at #1 next week, the obvious question arises: Which of these unexpectedly pop-successful artists is more likely to have a second hit? The answer, sadly, may very well be neither, but both artists have a handful of songs that would be very Top 40-worthy. Fun. is already gaining some traction with album title track "Some Nights," and Gotye's best shot might be this uber-soulful Making Mirrors cut, a Motown-retro cut that Cee Lo is probably kicking himself for not writing first. Of course, it sounds absolutely nothing like "Somebody That I Used to Know," so piggybacking on that song's monster success might be tricky. We're rooting for ya, Gotty.
DR. DRE FEAT. SNOOP DOGG & NATE DOGG, "THE NEXT EPISODE"
Yes, the late Nate Dogg is said to be joining Dre and Snoop on stage at Coachella via hologram (or some sort of communal drug-induced hallucination) this weekend, and if so, you can bet on Nate's "Hold up!" interjection and "Eyyyyyy / Smoke weed every day!" conclusion being absolute highlights of not only the set, but of the whole weekend. Did you remember that Dre says the phrase "I'm on one" in this song, by the way? More like Dr. Drake, areweright?
PULP, "LIKE A FRIEND"
UK britpop legends Pulp's perpetually underappreciated contribution to the Great Expectations soundtrack, "Like a Friend," is finally getting the due it deserves, thanks to an unexpected-to-say-the-least appearance in the latest season finale to Adult Swim's The Venture Brothers and Pulp's long-awaited reunion gigs in NY, in which the song has been featured as the concert encore (and was even played by the band at their recent Late Night with Jimmy Fallon cameo). It's still one of the most devastating songs in the band's catalogue, and the way the way it kicks in halfway through after lead singer Jarvis Cocker's "Just to do it....AGAIN" utterance remains as transcendent as ever. Here's hoping the band doesn't take another 14 years off before their next spate of stateside shows.