I promise I’m not trying to turn this into a music blog but all I have time to do these days is listen to music (and I’m barely doing much of that) so just be prepared for a lot of music reviews.
We’re three months into 2016 and there’s been a LOT of music released throughout the world. I’m 100% sure I haven’t even scratched the surface of a lot of good music this year. Shoot, I haven’t even listened to Kendrick Lamar’s album from last year, so yeah I’ve still got a ways to go.
But for now I’d like to focus on some of the (non-Korean) songs that captured my heart so far this year. The crazy thing about this relatively short list is that the most of these are from artists that haven’t dropped albums or new music in over two years.
Before you start reading my list be aware that I am not including full length albums or any Korean artists (eh,kind of) in this post because I’ll just do separate posts for those. Got it? Okay let’s get going
Corinne Bailey Rae’s Comeback!
This jazzy, English artist’s return to the musical realm after somewhat 5 year departure is probably my most favorite so far. Well I’ll be honest and say that as a huge fan of Corinne her music was a little bit underwhelming but the fact that she is dropping an album after such a long time is what I’m actually going crazy for. Right now the singles that she has dropped have been “aight”.
“Been to the Moon”, the first single she dropped about two weeks ago is a soulful trip to the solar land of funk & roll. At the first beat drop you can tell that this single is a departure from her earlier summer R&B jams. But then again, you could’ve guessed that Rae was eventually going to depart from the folk-esque sounds that embodied her “Put Your Records On” lemonade days anthem when she released her last album that played more heavily on R&B sounds.
However with this single it sounds like Rae may be trying to incorporate more psychedelic sounds to her usual funk base. Her attempt did not fail but to me it seems like it’s missing just a hint of something. Maybe it’s too many synthesizers and not enough of her voice. I’m not sure, but it just doesn’t hit the heart as it should.
The same goes for her second single off her upcoming album The Heart Speaks in Whispers, “Green Aphrodisiac” which holds more of a ballad sound. The lyrics are good, Corinne’s voice is great as usual, but it’s missing that something. So overall I like these songs but I don’t love them. I love Corinne though so that’s why it’s on this list.
Another of my favorite soulful artists is Malaysian beauty Yuna. I have been listening to her stuff since she was uploading covers on her Youtube page in 2010 (was it?). Already a pretty big deal in her home country and other parts of Asia, Yuna is no newbie to the music world as she has a couple of Malaysian and English albums under her resume, but to many Americans she’s still a nobody.
But hopefully thanks to her new single, “Crush”, which features American superstar Usher (yes, Usher) her name and music will be more familiar with the American fan-base. “Crush” is a lush, R&B duet that clearly shows the new, mature sound that Yuna is trying to go for in her upcoming album, Chapters. Yuna has always dabbled in the R&B world but this song along with her other single “Places to Go” shows a heavier hip-hop influence which wasn’t present in her previous albums.
Like I said, “Places to Go” is a HEAVY hip-hop track. Not this new school hip-hop (which is basically trap), but old-school hip-hop with the horns, the scratching sound of disks, the super deep bass – that type of hip-hop. Quite frankly I’m in absolute love with this sound. Her vocals are not drowned out by the heavier beats as she manages to not only complement the instrumentals but lead them.
If anything in “Crush” I feel that Usher’s vocals are the ones that are drowned out in their duet. But anyway the instrumentals! Oh my soul, what a beautiful arrangement. The instrumentals have this xylophone or something riff that just really help bring the lyrics of being in some type of fantasy relationship (because that’s what a crush is right?) to heart.
Overall, Yuna’s singles managed to maintain the sweet and magical air that her previous singles did but still were capable of being different and even better.
Remember how I said I was kind of not going to include a Korean artist in this list. Well that’s because the mad producer Bauuer has released a track off his upcoming album that features Korean pop and hip-hop king, G-Dragon. But it wasn’t G-Dragon’s feature that made me aware of this track, it was Sri Lankan rap goddess M.I.A. that made me click the button. I didn’t know that GD was going to be in this track until I hit play. Regardless the team up of these three eccentric artists really played out well on “Temple”, the dance track that is sure to get my feet moving in a club.
“Temple” is slick with a south Asian percussion leading the way for these badass rappers to let their raps flow. Each artist holds their own on this track but M.I.A. is definitely (as always) the star. My only negative about this song is that it is not long enough. It’s like just where you think the climax will be it just ends. Like we never really got to soar enough in this song. Anyways this is just one of the singles Bauuer has released off his upcoming album Aa. I haven’t heard the rest of the singles he released but I’ll definitely make a note to check them out along with his album if any of them are as good as this track.
Well that’s it for now! If you know of anymore awesome tracks or albums (language doesn’t matter for me) let me know and I’ll give it a listen.