VH New Music Fridays: SZA, Keith Urban and more

The Hustler Life staff reviews this week’s new releases


Alexa Bussmann

In VH New Music Fridays, the Life staff cover this week’s new music releases, from pop to country to alternative

Pop, Taylor Hopkins

Lizzo, “Like A Girl”
“Like A Girl” from Lizzo’s newest album Cuz I Love You is a dynamic song sure to be your new favorite girl power jam. Some standout lyrics are: “So if you fight like a girl, cry like a girl/Do your thing, run the whole damn world/ If you feel like a girl then you real like a girl/ Do your thing, run the whole damn world.” The pop singer demonstrates her range of talent on “Like A Girl” as she effortlessly raps, belts the chorus and throws in pop culture references in her lyrics like “Only exes that I care about are in my fucking chromosomes/ I don’t really need you, I’m Macaulay Culkin home alone.” The song is a fun, empowering demonstration of Lizzo’s star quality and lyrical flair. If the rest of her album is as great as “Like A Girl,” expect to keep seeing more of this rising star.

SZA, The Weeknd and Travis Scott, “Power is Power”
“Power is Power” sees this trinity of stars come together For the Throne, an album of songs inspired by the hit HBO series Game of Thrones in honor of the season’s eighth and final season. Game of Thrones fans and non-fans alike will appreciate this power-centric song’s strong beat and badass lyrics as it spotlights all three artists at their best. Lyrics include: “Heavy is the crown only for the weak/ A knife in my heart couldn’t slow me down/ ‘Cause power is power, the fire never goes out/ I rise from my scars, nothing hurts me now/ ‘Cause power is power/ Now watch me burn it down/ …Heavy is the crown, but never for a queen.” No matter who you want to see on the Iron Throne, or if you have no idea what an iron throne is, “Power is Power” is an amazing musical collaboration and an overall powerful and empowering track that’s sure to be a hit.


Country, Alexa Bussmann

Thomas Rhett, “Remember You Young”
The first release from Rhett’s upcoming album “Center Point Road” is a refreshing reminder of the Thomas Rhett that we all know and love. It’s painfully cliche, but features Rhett’s classic voice in a way that many of his recent releases have failed to do. Strong piano and acoustic complement reminiscent lyrics. I’ve been hard on Thomas Rhett in the past, but “Remember You Young” is a masterful effort and an invitation to do just what the title suggests: to remember the original Rhett.

Sophia Scott, “Drink Too Much Wine”
Rising artist Sophia Scott has been described as both “southern pop” and “pop-country”. Her single “Drink Too Much Wine” confirms that Scott is firmly riding the line between the country and pop genres. The Los Angeles-based singer has a powerful voice confesses to her drinking habits and other socially-unacceptable behaviors in what comes off as a watered-down pop song. Scott has potential in country music, but won’t be able to break through until the distinguishes her sound.

Keith Urban, “Burden”
The opening chords of “Burden” are melancholy and dark as Urban promises to support a friend through hard times. The song slowly builds, but doesn’t really reach a climax until the last thirty seconds of the song. One can’t help but wonder what inspired such serious lyrics from one of country music’s mainstays. A pensive, heavy song, this may not be a top-twenty hit— perhaps it’s more of a song of the times.

The Cadillac Three, “Crackin’ Cold Ones With The Boys”
In a jarring contrast to Urban’s release, southern rock’s youngest outfit released the rolicking “Crackin’ Cold Ones With The Boys.” What the song lacks in content (the title really says it all), it makes up for in energy. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear this song on country radio in the coming weeks, but it also won’t be surprising if it falls through the cracks and doesn’t make the airwaves.


Indie and Alternative: Angela Karas

This week, both today’s releases and those from last week (April 12) will be covered. Twice the alt-rock!

April 19:

Beck, “Saw Lightening”
“Saw Lightening” is compelling single from Grammy award-winning artist Beck, co-written and co-produced by Pharrell. The twangy guitar effects prove highly reminiscent of “Loser,” yet the emphasis on bass in the chorus incorporates a distinct element of R&B, producing an intriguing auditory contradiction marking this single notably distinct from other recent alternative songs. Beck has also recently announced his fourteenth (yes, fourteenth) album, Hyperspace, though a release date has yet to be announced. This summer, Beck will embark on a co-headlining tour with Cage the Elephant, and if you’re planning on going to one of the dates, “Saw Lightening” is a likely bet for Beck’s setlist.

Moon Taxi, “Now’s the Time”
During Moon Taxi’s Rites of Spring set last week, they performed the then-unreleased song “Now’s the Time.” Today, the single was officially released, and it arguably has the potential to usurp “Two High” as the band’s staple song. “Now’s the Time” features a fun and idiosyncratic chorus, incorporating trumpets along with a quintessentially indie-pop upbeat bass-line. While Vanderbilt has already been gifted with a stellar set from the band, we can now also enjoy the studio recording of “Now’s the Time.”

Catfish and the Bottlemen, “Conversation”
With the release of The Balance only a week away, Catfish and the Bottlemen have treated fans to a final single. When examined independently from the rest of Catfish’s discography, the song proves a strong addition to the alt-rock cannon. However, particularly when viewed in tangent with other recent releases from the Welsh band, “Conversation” sounds haunting similar, especially to “Longshot.” It seems the band has found a formula that has worked for them and has stuck with it for The Balance-era releases. Catfish is a band with substantial potential, and it is disheartening to see them neglect to embrace the experimental aspect of alt rock.

April 12 :

Tame Impala, “Borderline”
Tame Impala has released the second single from their as-of-yet untitled fourth LP. First debuted on SNL, “Borderline” stands out not merely in contrast to the Australian band’s first new single of LP4, “Patience,” but in their discography at large. “Borderline” features frontman Kevin Parker singing the chorus in two registers, creating an interesting and highly unique dichotomy. Tame Impala’s SNL performance has revealed that, despite the complexity of the song, the band can flawlessly perform the song live. In fact, there are extremely few differences between the studio version released today and the band’s live SNL performance. For those of you planning to attend Tame Impala’s May 2 gig at the Ascend Amphitheatre (I know I am), expect this song on the setlist.

Cage the Elephant, “Goodbye”
With the release of Social Cues a week away, Cage the Elephant has released their final single. “Goodbye” showcases a new dimension characterizing recent releases from the band. The song is equal parts introspective and forlorn, a fitting final song on the album’s thirteen-song long track list. The decision to release the final song on the album is highly intriguing, as this is not a common phenomenon. A record’s concluding song should encapsulate the emerging themes of the formative songs as a whole and leave the listener with an idea or emotion to consider. “Goodbye” seems to function in this respect given the other Cage the Elephant singles to which we have been treated over the past two months (“Ready to Let Go,” “House of Glass” and “Night Running”), though in some respects, I do wish Cage had reserved this song for the album release itself. With that being said, the song is absolutely magnificent and worthy of much acclaim.

Courtney Barnett, “Everybody Here Hates You”
“Everybody Here Hates You” features strong guitar work and a catchy chorus. The latest from Courtney Barnett can perhaps be best described as junior varsity version of the singer’s arguably most popular song “Pedestrian at Best.” “Everybody Here Hates You” holds its own as a single, but lacks the excitement of other alt rock songs that have been released recently. However, the cover art for the single is particularly noteworthy, as it depicts some of the very lyrics to the song and appears hand-drawn. Overall, the single reflects a creative impulse that could perhaps manifest itself more fully in future releases from Courtney Barnett.

Cover Photo: SZA, The Weeknd and Travis Scott, Keith Urban and Sophia Scott