New Music Roundup: from holiday cheer to reminiscent feels, this week’s newest tracks
(Nikole Liang /Daily Bruin Illustrator)
By Graciana Paxton and Alexis Jones
Nov. 4, 2022 3:14 p.m.
Whether it be albums or singles, established artists are taking bold steps back into the spotlight. Read on for the Daily Bruin’s recap of the past week’s newest musical entries in this week’s “New Music Roundup.”
“I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” – Andrew Bird feat. Phoebe Bridgers
There’s no need to mourn Andrew Bird’s latest release.
Debuted Oct. 26, “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” is the indie-rock musician’s first release since his July 2022 album, “Inside Problems.” Featuring Phoebe Bridgers, the single is titled after Emily Dickinson’s poem of the same name, which was originally published in 1896. While the song adapts the poem’s verses almost exactly, Bird and Bridgers both pay homage and bring new life to the centuries-old work through elegant backing and ethereal vocals.
Opening with sharp, stimulating and violin-filled instrumentals, Bird effortlessly transitions away from this haunting initial feel into the track’s more tranquil string and whistle-composed backing. As Bird and Bridgers’ alternate verses and skillfully duet the single’s chorus with even cadence and intense vocal clarity, the two gracefully step into their roles as narrators of the poem with their impassioned, ponderous tone.
Via this musical invention, Bird thoughtfully brings back life to an established literary work.
– Graciana Paxton
[Related: Music preview: Autumn season brings new music from The 1975, Taylor Swift and more]
“Bad Idea” – Dove Cameron
Dove Cameron’s latest single is her best idea yet.
After teasing the release on her TikTok account, Cameron dropped “Bad Idea” on Oct. 28. The song comes after the singer found success on the charts with previous singles “Boyfriend” and “Breakfast.” The track opens with a searing, almost scratchy, electronic beat, and its eerie effect is further backed by a switch-and-bait of Cameron singing a capella and added techno instrumentals.
Complementary of Cameron contemplating jumping back into a toxic relationship to re-live the fun times, “Bad Idea” is imbued with a darkly playful sense of tension. The record moves back-and-forth between Cameron’s layered vocals and the heavy beat drops into the chorus, reminiscent of a haunted circus attraction. The simplicity of the cheeky lyrics cleverly counters with the song’s tumultuous yet well-jointed production.
Cameron’s “Bad Idea” is performing, and it’s working for listeners.
– Alexis Jones
“Lift Me Up” – Rihanna
Rihanna is back on the rise.
After years of teasing new music and an unnamed allegedly completed new album, Rihanna released a new single titled “Lift Me Up” on Oct. 28. The track – which is the lead single for the accompanying soundtrack of Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” – is the singer’s first solo track since 2016 and comes several weeks after she was announced as this year’s NFL Super Bowl halftime show headliner.
In contrast from the pop artist’s fast-paced early hits, the calming, slowed single places Rihanna’s vocals front and center, supplemented by simple, serene and harp-hailed instrumentals. Though its lyrics and melodies take a slightly repetitive approach, its themes of closeness, unity and support are endearingly emitted, emotionally and fittingly tying the track to the upcoming film’s goal of honoring the late Chadwick Boseman.
With these lofty vocals and powerful lyrics, Rihanna’s latest is sure to lift listeners up.
– Graciana Paxton
[Related: Winner Takes All: Finding ‘the 1’ best, most influential Taylor Swift album]
“December Back 2 June” – Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys is ringing in the holiday season early this year.
Less than a year after her 2021 double album “KEYS,” Alicia Keys is returning with “Santa Baby” – a holiday-themed album featuring both the R&B soul artist’s interpretation of holiday classics and new, original winter-themed tracks from Keys. With “December Back 2 June,” Keys attempts to join the lineage of past-established artists who have created signature catchy holiday radio hits.
“December Back 2 June” delivered Oct. 28, is the only single from “Santa Baby” dropped prior to the Nov. 4 release date of the album. features twinkling instrumentals and soulful percussion backing as Keys optimistically sings of romance and holiday spirit. While the repetition of its chorus – “For this Christmas, don’t need wishes/Not since I met you” – feels unoriginal for its lyrical and thematic ties to Mariah’s Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” Keys’ single still offers a suave, snappy entry in her interpretation of a traditional classic pop Christmas hit.
While it shines for its upbeat backing and velvet-smooth vocals, only time will tell whether the track will be remembered this December.
– Graciana Paxton