In VH New Music Fridays, the Life staff covers the newest music releases, from pop to country to alternative. Here’s what we’ve loved, hated and tolerated this week.
Pop: Taylor Hopkins
Ben Platt, “Bad Habit”
Ben Platt, of Pitch Perfect and Evan Hansen fame, released the first two singles from his upcoming debut album Sing to Me Instead (release date: Mar. 29). The opening track “Bad Habit” begins with Platt, accompanied only by piano, singing softly as he reminisces on the words of an ex. Slow percussion and guitars weave into the background as Platt’s voice grows in strength during the chorus and he pleads with his ex “Hate to say that I love you/ Hate to say that I need you/ Hate to say that I want you/ But I do/ Bad habit, I know/ But I’m needin’ you right now/ Can you help me out?/ Can I lean on you?” During the final chorus Platt’s voice erupts into a Broadway-esque belt that reminds listeners of his roots and singing chops. While the lyrics of “Bad Habit” will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever had an ex they just can’t get out of their head, it feels like it should be on a musical soundtrack, not the album of a hopeful pop star. Platt certainly has the skills and lyrics to be successful, but if the rest of Sing to Me Instead gives off similar Broadway vibes, then listening to this album will be a “Bad Habit” that’s easy to break.
Country: Alexa Bussmann
Florida Georgia Line ft. Jason Derulo, “Women”
Yikes. “Women”, from FGL’s upcoming Can’t Say I Ain’t Country, was three and a half minutes of slow torture. The superstar country pop duo has had recent success recording with Top 40 artists, but wasn’t Jason Derulo popular when we were in middle school? In the first verse, they ponder “what made the girls start gettin’ pretty” (hint: puberty). Don’t wait around for a catchy bridge to save this song- Tyler and Brian won’t elaborate more on the topic of women other than that they are “so beautiful”.
George Strait, “God and Country Music”
This single from the king of country music provides a stark and needed contrast to FGL’s release this week. Simply and classic, this song is everything that country fans love about Strait. Radio and chart success have been elusive for Strait in recent years, but true country fans will appreciate this single that draws heavy comparisons between faith and country music. Who else but the king could name drop Johnny Cash and Billy Graham in the second line?
Cassadee Pope, Stages
Pope’s sophomore album is a strong effort, but not a departure from the corner of modern country music that she has stuck to so far in her career. The songs “If My Heart Had a Heart”, “Take You Home” and “One More Red Light” were previously released as singles, and are wholly representative of the album. Pope has a strong voice, but doesn’t succeed in breaking out of modern country’s commercial mold.
Hip Hop: Brendan Sawyer
Billie Eilish, “bury a friend”
Billie Eilish’s first single from her upcoming album When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (to be released Mar. 29) shows a darker turn from her typical style. I love the minimalist beat of light pops and claps that complement Eilish’s whispered vocals. While the lyrics are pretty lackluster, the tracks sounds come together to create a pleasantly unsettling aesthetic.
Lil Pump, “Racks on Racks”
With “Racks on Racks”, Lil Pump continues to show that “Gucci Gang” was an incredible fluke. The new song’s instrumental is a little too reminiscent of Drake’s “Headlines,” and Pump’s generic flows only emphasizes the song’s unoriginality. I could only bare about fifteen “RACKS ON RACKS ON RACKS” before I had to turn the track off. I hope the next singles for his upcoming debut commercial album Harvard Dropout (Feb 22) bring back the fun he showcased on his 2017 self-titled mixtape.
R&B/ Rap: Tina Qin
Gunna, “One Call”
The first single off his upcoming project Drip or Drown II, the Atlanta native doesn’t stray far from the sound that has carried him to success in the past year. He represents one of the evolving sounds of rap that combines the heavy influence of Young Thug with the trap of underground Atlanta rap. Gunna and Lil Baby’s “Drip Too Hard” was sensationally refreshing even in an era of rapidly transforming rap. However, while Turbo-produced “One Call” has much of the same trap rap production and flow, it lacks the eccentricity and chemistry that made “Drip Too Hard” so appealing. The track relies heavily on the overplayed “drip” imagery with an obvious aqueous sound. Lacking contrast, it’s transitions fall short and the entire track can feel like one drawn out verse. Overall, the song is more of the same while lacking anything truly inspiring. Gunna “hood melodies” may soon start to feel stagnant to even his most devoted fans.