Sunday, July 21, 2024

Fresh Music: Lady Gaga Sounds Lost, But Young Thug And Sia Soar

With new music flying like warp-speed through the various channels of the Internet, it can be hard to keep up. But worry not! Each week The Fresh Toast will deliver the most-discussed and exciting songs that have recently dropped. Landed. Crashed. And also: soared. Enjoy.

Lady Gaga: “Perfect Illusion”

Lady Gaga wants to be Madonna. That sounds critical, but it’s not: Madonna was one of the biggest and most important pop music artists of the 80s. She was right alongside Prince and Michael Jackson. The flamboyancy and overall persona Lady Gaga embodies is descendant in many ways to Madonna, except Gaga is a theater kid. (Also not a knock against theater kids!)

Like the best pop acts, Gaga blends and reinvents sounds constantly. She works as a collagist as much as a singer. And maybe that’s why Gaga’s newest single “Perfect Illusion” bombards ears like an exasperated sigh. Who wouldn’t want Gaga’s return to explode like fireworks? But that’s not what “Perfect Illusion” is. It sounds like a throwaway from a later-day Madonna album when some producer thought to chase that grand hook/earnest 80s vibes again.

When the track hits its unearned key change, desperately trying to pump some late depth into some surprisingly thin production, it frustrates more than enlivens. It all seemed like a good idea when this song was announced. But with all that production talent behind Gaga, it’s almost like no one wanted to take direction, which is exactly how the song sounds: lost.

Sia ft. Kendrick Lamar: “The Greatest”

This is cathartic. Penned as a tribute to the victims of the Orlando Pulse shooting, the euphoric single is pure pop mastery. Sia teams again with dancer Maddie Ziegler to deliver an equally haunting video, though the video version doesn’t include Kendrick’s verse.

Zack de la Rocha: “digging for windows”

News came that former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha dropped a new single and it seemed inconceivable. Rage broke up in 2000 and de la Rocha was supposedly recording a solo album, working with El-P, of Run the Jewels fame. Well it turns out de la Rocha remained close to El-P and the first words de la Rocha utters ensures he’s still the rage man. “Fuck that bright shit” and “the days are all night,” we hear against a thumping death march of a beat.

That energy was missed. And apparently we’re going to be hearing a lot more of it soon to come.

Mac Miller ft. Ariana Grande: “My Favorite Part”

Few rappers or musicians have dabbled in such various modes as Mac Miller. While still too-often dismissed by a certain crowd with a frat rapper label, a genre that made him famous, Mac’s love of all music flows through his own. His next project The Divine Feminine coming next week marks another turn for Mac: some parts neo-soul, others funk, and some jazz backbone. His 2012 You EP, under the guise of Larry Lovestein & The Velvet Revival, displayed he had this in him, but this fusion of feel-good jams he’s been releasing is something else.

“My Favorite Part” joins those ranks, with Mac singing beside new girlfriend Ariana Grande. A laid-back boom-bap, the pair intertwine well together, though that’s little surprise due to their previous collaborations.

Felix Snow ft. Young Thug “Turn Up”

Here’s how Young Thug sounds on this track: unhinged. But unhinged like thrown out of a flying airplane, falling through the sky while rapping his ass off and firing two flamethrowers, only to land on a dragon, also breathing fire, and lightning strikes the pair, trans-morphing them together, until we reach Young Dragon Thug, the maniac rapping on this track.

In other words, it’s Young Thug at his thrilling best.

Andy Milonakis: “Suck Me Off to Drake Songs”

Have a nice weekend.



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