February was a busy month for music, due to the variety of great albums and new singles that came out. So, to help navigate you through this, I’ve compiled my 10 favorite songs that came out in February.
10. Mike WiLL Made-It ft. Lil Yachty & Carly Rae Jepsen – “It Takes Two”
I am embarrassed by how much I love this song as there are so many ways this could have gone wrong. Yet, despite being a remake of a classic song, featuring one of the most popular yet polarizing figures in hip-hop plus a pop star who hasn’t scored a real hit since 2012, and being an advert for Target, it somehow succeeds. Yachty’s verses are fun as hell, Jepsen’s verse and hook work extremely well, and MiKE WiLL Made-It’s production keeps the core of the original song but adds enough of a contemporary edge to it that makes it stand out from the original. Maybe capitalism isn’t so bad after all, if it brings us songs like this.
9. Spoon – “Can I Sit Next To You”
I haven’t properly gotten into Spoon. I’ve had friends praising them for years, but just never really felt the need to give them a chance. After this song and the title track for their new album, Hot Thoughts, I think 2017 might be the year I finally dive into their discography as this song is an absolute banger. Britt Daniel’s vocals are passionate, the percussion is perfectly punchy, the string flourishes are beautiful, and that bass, that bass! God, this song is just pure groove, and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s almost impossible to hate.
8. Future Islands – “Ran”
Is this track really anything new from Future Islands? Not really. Does it have to be? Nope. The band has a pretty established sound and that sound has taken them to great heights in recent years, this track being no different. Obviously, there’s a few changes in the midst, but the track is still very much Future Islands in the best way possible. Herring’s vocals are still as ardent as ever (also, his stage presence is still top-tier), the synths are beautifully crafted, the percussion urgent, and to repeat myself, that bass! Definitely be on the lookout for The Far Field when it comes out April 7.
7. Hippo Campus – “buttercup”
Whenever I first heard Hippo Campus, I initially dismissed them as generic commercial indie/alternative and ignored them until the first single for their debut album, “boyish,” came out back in October. Now with the recent release of this debut, I’ve fully come around on them as the band is making some of the best indie pop in recent years.
“buttercup” is the outro to this new album, and a triumphant one in that. The group vocals throughout are done extremely well, the guitars are playful yet not too loose, and simply, it’s a fun journey and perfect way to cap off a solid debut. These guys are gonna be absolutely huge one day, be on the lookout.
6. Jens Lekman – “How We Met, the Long Version”
I don’t really have much to say about this track, it’s just a really nice song that makes me feel good. It’s an extremely funky tune about the creation of Earth that led to Jens Lekman meeting his partner. I am definitely going to be throwing these on future playlists for romantic interests.
5. Thundercat ft. Mono/Poly – “Friend Zone”
The friend zone does not exist. Well, it does, but not in the way it existed for me when I was 13 or 14. If someone rejects me now but wants to be friends, that’s okay! But that same situation 6 or 7 years ago would absolutely crush me. We have a song to talk about right?
“Friend Zone” is Thundercat’s look at the friend zone, tongue firmly in cheek. Despite taking the perspective a nerd who plays Diablo in the song, the track is anything but lame due to the irresistible synth flourishes and signature bass playing from Thundercat. I think old me would love this track as much as the current me loves it.
4. Dirty Projectors ft. Dawn Richard – “Cool Your Heart”
As I said in my last column, one of the “issues” I had with the new Dirty Projectors album was the lack of pettiness. However, that’s a half true statement as I actually do really like the approach Dave Longstreth took to the breakup album, with this track probably being my favorite on the album.
Dawn Richard’s and Longstreth’s chemistry on the track is undeniable, as the two bounce off each other and the bizarre and jittery production perfectly. This is one of the few tracks on the album where Longstreth cools it (pun intended) on the vocal effects, which adds a more genuine touch that really adds a lot.
3. Sun Kil Moon – “Window Sash Heights”
Instead of talking about the music and the context of Mark Kozelek, I’m just gonna list my five favorite lyrics on this song.
- “And something I say will likely be viewed as offensive and cause a student to be alarmed / Or if a college girl is nice to me and I speak to her, it might be misconstrued and I won’t be pardoned / Will a nearby voyeuristic blogger read purposefully too deeply into it / Go home, report it on cyber and tug on his dick, and wait for hits”
- “And after that, gonna record with Nate and Steve in Hoboken / Nate called me yesterday, his wife is pregnant, I told him, ‘Man, congratulations’ / Oh how things change, and that’s an interesting part of getting up there in age / Seeing how we all grow older and how our lives and the colors around us change”
- “And I’m telling you all that elevator footage of Elisa Lam looks totally rigged / Six hundred rooms and no one walked down the hall and tried to get on that elevator with her / Who in the fuck do you think you’re kidding?”
- “Bon Jovi’s seen a million faces, and he’s rocked them all / Those are his words, but I omitted one, and the other two, I installed / You’re not quite a million faces, but I love you all, I love you all, I love you all, I love you all”
- “I don’t spook easy and true crime is fascinating to me and that’s my right as an American”
2. Xiu Xiu – “Get Up”
Xiu Xiu’s music is just like, really messed up y’all. There’s a lot of pain and depression and anger and sadness in a lot of the music Jamie Stewart makes. Even when he’s covering the triumphant “Under Pressure,” he adds a dark edge to it that seemingly hadn’t been explored before.
With FORGET, Stewart has upped the pop appeal some of his previous work hinted at, but never played with it like he has on here. “Get Up” takes elements of this new approach, add hints of Twin Peaks influence from their Twin Peaks Soundtrack cover album last year, and add some good old classic rock bombast near the track’s end-point to end things off beautifully.
1. Arca – “Anoche”
This is my song of the year so far, bar none. With his solo work, there always felt like there was a missing element with Arca. While his collaborations with artists like FKA twigs, Kanye West, and Björk have yielded some of the best music this decade, he hasn’t quite been able to fully bring it together on his own until now.
On this upcoming self-titled album, it seems that Arca might have found this missing element: his voice, literally and figuratively. Despite the fact that this track is completely sung in Spanish, that doesn’t take away from the pure emotion Arca brings to this track. Translating the lyrics, Arca is talking about a lover he misses, but hasn’t met yet (a clear reference to the Björk song “I Miss You”). The dreamlike production represents these emotions, and is much more minimal than usual Arca productions, letting his new voice take center stage and shine. If the rest of the album is as good as this and “Piel”, we’re really in for something truly special.
And that’s it, if you want to listen to all the songs I listed, check out the Spotify playlist below: