Lana Del Rey releases her strongest songs ever five albums in, Lizzo hits the top of the charts with a song released two years ago, King Princess is riding a big gay wave of queer pop - here's the latest crop of song crushes from the RNZ Music team.
Melody Thomas from RNZ sex podcast BANG! joins Kirsten Johnstone and Tony Stamp from the Song Crush team, and of course things get hot and heavy.
Lizzo - Truth Hurts
At this point if you haven’t heard of Lizzo then you only have yourself to blame. She’s the shining superstar the world needs, currently ruling from her throne atop the US Billboard Top 100 with the song 'Truth Hurts'. Thing is, this song isn’t from her 2019 album Cuz I Love You, it’s a single she released way back in 2017 that somehow didn’t take off at the time.
What happened was this: in April this year, the song was featured in an excellent scene in the Netflix movie Someone Great, and soon after made its first appearance on the charts. Lizzo took note and started pushing the song online, and fans responded to the challenge presented in the lyric “I just took a DNA test, turns out, I’m 100% that bitch”, by creating TikTok videos of their own “DNA tests”, many of which went viral.
Lizzo began performing the song whenever she could - most notably atop a giant wedding cake at the BET awards (twerking as she played the flute while Rihanna applauds) and then again at the VMAs in front of a giant inflatable butt. Over the course of five months, the two-year old music video amassed more than 99 million views, the song crept its way up the charts, and then, last week, nabbed the #1 spot.
It’s a total jam, an ode to self-love as an antidote to shitty men, and we adore it. Lizzbians unite! MT
Lana Del Rey - Norman F**king Rockwell
Lana Del Rey’s fifth album Norman F**king Rockwell is her opus, the pinnacle of her old-school glamour and millennial malaise. Through its 67 minutes she wrestles with messy relationships and apocalyptic times, power dynamics, freedom and what it means to be American.
She puts herself in good company: the lyrics namecheck The Eagles, Crosby Nash Stills and Young and The Beach Boys, Sylvia Plath, Slim Aarons and many other markers of the late 20th century.
It’s gorgeous, by the way. Captivating, candid, and layered with meaning. And there’s so much space in the songs - thanks to producer Jack Antonoff laying off the maximalism he lathered on Lorde’s album Melodrama (which I also loved.) He provides a stable, elegant vessel to move these songs through, and captures her purring voice perfectly, even when she’s swearing.
My picks: Mariners Apartment Complex, Hope Is A Dangerous thing for a woman like me to have but I have it KJ
Velvet Negroni - Kurt Kobain
Jeremy Nutzman is a member of noise outfit Marijuana Deathsquads, but for his new RnB-flavoured project, he’s taken on the suitably smooth nom de plume Velvet Negroni. This track bastardizes the name of the late Nirvana frontman, and borrows the melody from the verse of The Police’s ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’, but it’s shot through with Nutzman’s imagination and neo-80s production, marking him as an intriguing talent in a very crowded field. TS
King Princess - Prophet
Sure, a queer song won’t turn a person gay, but let’s just say if King Princess had been around when I was a teenager I’d have figured out my sexuality a whole lot earlier.
King Princess (real name Mikaela Straus), is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer from Brooklyn, New York. From her very first single - the beautiful and achingly sad 'Talia', released last year - King Princess made it very clear she was singing about women, and possibly also performing for women. Every song since has reiterated this fact - the single '1950' kicking off with the line “I hate it when dudes try to chase me”, and - for those who really weren’t getting it - the incredibly funny, explicit, catchy af 'Pussy is God' (and subsequent Pussy Is God tour).
The track 'Prophet', released last month, is a sexy, breathy ballad - the music video for which shows King Princess exuding BDE (Big Dyke Energy) in both a football outfit and high vis construction get-up. It might also be a commentary on the exploitative nature of the music industry (“Can't step off it/someone else will cop it/Like it's gold, you're a prophet/Someone's gonna profit”) - which could explain the end of the video, where KP’s love interest bakes her into a cake and her body is feasted upon by a group of laughing, creepy old men. MT
Channel Tres - Black Moses
Channel Tres is really, really cool. And he knows it. This song stands apart from the rest of the Black Moses EP not just because it’s much slower than the rest, but because Tres kicks it off by saying ‘Ain’t about me’, in contrast to his usual, highly braggadocious lyrics. Avant-rapper JPEGMAFIA shows up to be his usual inflammatory self, but otherwise 'Black Moses' is as sultry and smooth as its Isaac Hayes-referencing name suggests.