Songs of the week: Ariana Grande, Chance the Rapper, Grimes

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ariana Grande Turns Up the Heat in New ‘Focus’ Music Video.

We know you’re thinking it – Focus sounds an awful lot like Ari’s horns-laced summer anthem Problem with Iggy Azalea (you know, back when everybody still liked her?).In any other week, on any other Friday, a new, heavily-hyped single from Ariana Grande would—even if it were just, like, three minutes of Grande reading spam e-mails—would have no trouble ascending immediately to the top of the iTunes chart.With #FocusTonight trending on Twitter, the pop star counted down the hours until the single was due for release… and then dropped it early as a surprise. “Surprise !!!! it’s here!!!!,” she informed fans, revealing her latest track an hour early.

But Focus is actually more like Problem’s brassier, foxier older sister, giving throwback vibes with its James Brown-esque hook while Ariana plays coy on the flirty, no-nonsense verses. But, this Friday, one week after the debut of Adele’s “Hello”—the first Adele output in three years, and a song which has now set pretty much every record feasible—it is not going to be quite so easy for the 22-year-old former Nickelodeon star. After the successive teasers of an upcoming song and album, Ariana Grande finally shared the Youtube and iTunes link to the music video of her latest single “Focus” in a tweet posted on October 30 at 11:00 am EST. It’s a confident, contagious sashay forward for the pint-sized pop diva, and only makes us more excited for what’s in store on her forthcoming third album. Grande’s “Focus”—the lead single from her upcoming third album, Moonlight—is currently lodged at No. 2, after its release at midnight last night (do not discount the Arianator masses, though—we could see an Adele displacement by the end of today!).

The upbeat, horn-heavy song has the same hallmarks that made her previous singles “Problem” and “Bang Bang” hits, giving her fans a song worthy of that repeat button. Focus is the first single off her new album, due in 2016, and she’ll perform it live for the first time at the Ariana Grande World Premiere Event in Los Angeles this weekend. The song—which had been teased by Grande on her social media for over a month—is (and this is probably not what any of us were expecting) sort of reminiscent of a Mystikal song, with its rapped chorus and frenetic energy. In an earlier vlog posted last October 9 on her Honeymoon Diaries Youtube channel, Grande explains the meaning of the song, saying “When I say focus on me, I literally mean focus me and what I’m all about and what I believe in. But after a freewheeling spell following the Chicago rapper’s breakthrough 2013 mixtape, Acid Rap—spent playing festivals, collaborating with Bieber and making jazzy neo-soul records—Chance returns to convention with Angels.

The video features a blonde Grande preening, prancing and at one point taking a selfie—with an aesthetic that manages to look both retro and futuristic at the same time. The single is one of the purest expressions of the rapper’s style—his playful flow over a grab-bag of colorful instrumentals and a gospel choir—we’ve heard thus far.

And even as he makes a play for the mainstream, Chance still carries his city on his shoulders, packing the lyrics with references to his hometown and inviting Chicago rapper Saba along for the chorus. —Maeve McDermott While we anxiously await a full-length album from Shura (see: 2Shy, one of our favorite pop songs of the year), this pulsing collaboration with U.K. producer Mura Masa will happily tide us over. Carried by Shura’s hypnotic, airy vocals over a low-key club beat, Love For That also has an equally enchanting video, featuring two lovers as they try to dance free of the chain that binds them together. — Ryan A crowd of big-name pop stars may be toying with electronic production on their new November releases, from Justin Bieber’s summery beats to Ellie Goulding’s maximalist singles.

A cursory listen to Oblivion and Genesis, highlights from her () album Visions, reveals the Canadian singer/producer can make a near-perfect song, and every moment in her new single Flesh Without Blood crackles with energy. Bieber has his tropical house; Grimes has her “zombie Marie Antoinette on the tennis courts-house.” —McDermott The last time we heard Sandra Bland’s name in a song, it was defiantly chanted by Janelle Monae and her Wondaland crew in their visceral battle cry Hell You Talmbout. But Blood Orange, the project of singer-producer Dev Hynes, takes a different approach in this remembrance of the Illinois woman who died in jail this summer. The slinky, spare R&B of Sandra’s Smile is a different kind of protest song, set after the marchers have gone home, an artifact of the quiet, painful process of moving on from an unimaginable loss.

—McDermott If Rozay called us from the other side and only had this lousy verse to show for it, we’d probably just hang up our flip phones (just kidding, he’s Rick Ross). But seriously, he doesn’t add much to Adele’s already mega-sized hit, unless you listened to Hello and thought, “Hmm, this could really use more references to sagging pants and the south of France.” Bet you never thought you’d hear the echoes of “Maybach Music” in an Adele song, so at least there’s that.

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