Eavesdrop: Your Midsummer Soundtrack
Summer is now in full swing. However you plan to spend your sunny days, it doesn’t hurt to have a fresh new playlist to keep you company. Whether you like delightfully surreal hip-hop that somehow manages to combine rap, country, R&B and pop, dreamy indie with just a touch of rockabilly charm or African electro with a contemporary twist, we have you covered with fresh new tracks ready to accompany any sunny day event.
Single Of The Week:
On the surface, it is easy to mistake “Nobody” for any other nostalgic sounding indie-pop love song, with their floaty vocals, wistfully resigned lyrics and coolly modern synths. However, Mitski’s contribution to the genre quickly moves past those hallmarks, using them as building blocks to create something entirely new.
“Nobody” looks at the pain of modern dating through a lens that is firmly fixated on the stars, musing aloud about the societal rules that bind the planet Venus and its imaginary habitats. The whimsical tone is present throughout: from the ode to Alice in Wonderland in the second verse to the shimmering, jangly guitars that lend the whole track a deliciously disco flair.
Most importantly though, as the song builds to its irresistibly catchy climax, Mitski makes sure to remind us “I know no one will save me, I’m just asking for a kiss”. This isn’t a song about waiting like a damsel in distress, but about the strength it takes to climb down from the tower yourself.
Music Videos Of The Week:
Tierra Whack - "Whack World": “Whack World” is so much more than a music video. It’s the visual accompaniment to a whole fifteen track album, packed into a tidy sixteen-minute runtime. In that time, we move from childlike, candy-coloured nail salons and dog groomers, to gritty lounges with just a touch of the cartoonish, to high-glamour clubs far more in line with your usual hip-hop video.
Transitions are seamless, sometimes marked by a literal door between sets, sometimes marked with a beat of silence followed by a completely different melody. Surprises are everywhere: the cutest video snippet in the bunch, complete with puppets, is actually about a dog dying, and the move from the first track to the second is accompanied by a reveal straight out of a horror movie.
The result is an accessible but mature hip-hop album that balances wildly divergent tones, colour schemes, musical styles and outfits, that doesn’t give you a second to catch your breath. Don’t worry though, chances are you’ll be holding it the entire time anyway.
Tessa Violet - "Crush": Tessa Violet was a vlogger and model for 10 years before she took her first steps into music, so it’s no surprise that she has her visuals down pat. The first few seconds of “Crush” see her walking through the aisles of a store with bright yellow hair, a bright yellow backpack and bright yellow shoes, with the frame getting narrower and more cinematic and she catches the eye of a store worker. Then, in a flash, things are back to normal and she’s looking wryly into the camera, winking at the non-standard viewer/creator relationship she has built up over a decade of working as a YouTuber.
Tessa spends the rest of the video playing with our visual expectations. Shots split and duplicate themselves, or stutter and bounce along to the beat. Tessa herself goes from alone to surrounded by people in the space of a frame. At times she is aloof and coy, as though we are a man she is trying to play hard to get with. And at times we are invited into the giddiness and energy of her love story.
All of this combines to elevate what would otherwise be a simple pop song into something intriguing, as we try and figure out the true narrative behind the one she is trying to portray.
Fatoumata Diawara – “Nterini”: There is no better word for “Nterini” than cinematic. In the first few seconds, we are warned that this is an audio representation of one migrant’s journey, but we are not told who he is, where he is going, or where he has come from. Instead, we see the colour in the Fatoumata’s dress stain a white strip of fabric, dyeing the path across the landscape blood red. We see camels walking in rows against a dusty sky, and a man with a backpack only just visible in the dark.
You don’t need to understand the language to understand the message of the song, but the few English words are lent extra importance through their scarcity. Fatoumata repeatedly looks directly at the camera to sing “I want to know”, refusing to let us enjoy the music without also appreciating the reason it was made.
However, the track is just as focused on the sound as it is the issues it represents. Half way through, the traditional African melodies are joined by an upbeat, almost rocky guitar, which meanders through the vocal harmonies adding groove and flavour. This in turn melts into the claps, snaps and occasional bursts of whirring electro, accompanying Fatoumata as she dances closer and closer to the camera, willing us to join her.