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.