Alt-pop ladies dominate in this week’s best songs column. Deal with it, the trend isn’t going anywhere.
FKA twigs — “Two Weeks”
I get totally lost in “Two Weeks,” the new single from one of 2014’s biggest beacons of hype, FKA twigs. Some may discount the young UK singer as a pretty voice jumping on the alt-R&B bandwagon, but having heard her upcoming full-length, I assure you this is an artist with a lot to say. Her inclination towards ticking drum machines and abrasive effects find a home on “Two Weeks,” where her vocals provide the perfect foil of breathy soulfulness.
“Dangerous Days” — Zola Jesus
“I want to be No. 1 on Billboard,” Zola Jesus, aka Nika Roza Danilova, recently said. Given her ambient, slightly gothy brand of pop, I’m surprised to hear her say that — but she sounds serious about the claim in her new single, “Dangerous Days.” Danilova has a full-on anthem on her hands with this one. It builds up from a pop-y synth line before hitting its stride with a chorus that bubbles and soothes like Alka Seltzer. Zola Jesus’s Taiga is out October 7.
“Go” — Grimes
Grimes took the song she wrote with Blood Diamonds for Rihanna and used it for herself after RiRi rejected it. I feel like I need to offer this up as some explanation for why this song doesn’t sound like the Grimes the world came to know circa 2012’s Visions. But really, “Go” requires no excuses: it’s a hypnotic pop-EDM club banger of the highest quality, the sort of song that would garner critical praise if a marquee pop star made it a radio hit. We shall see how it fares for one of the indie world’s biggest pop star.
“A Place Called Space” — The Juan MacLean
An eight-minute prog-disco jam about space that sounds like it was produced by Giorgio Moroder in his prime, via ex-LCD Soundsystem member Nancy Whang and OG DFA Records dude The Juan MacLean (aka, John MacLean).
“Big Girls Cry” — Sia
I praised this song heartily yesterday for its message condoning grown women falling apart from time to time, but musically, its understated, midtempo balladry works as well. Bonus points for reminding me of JoJo’s “Leave (Get Out)” as it opens.
Bonus: It being the weekend and all, if you find yourself looking for a dirty rap banger, try Vic Mensa’s positively horn-dog homage to threesomes and a decent Damon Wayans movie, “Major Payne.” It’s a good alternative to Usher and Juicy J’s new head-shakingly bad tribute to a stripper boo, “I Don’t Mind.”