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Top 10 Songs of the Month: Tash Sultana, Blood Orange, and Nicki Minaj

on September 04, 2018, 12:00am
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05. boygenius – “Stay Down”


In a strike of poignant talent, songwriters Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, and Julien Baker have combined to form supergroup boygenius, and with this, they have captured lightning in a bottle. Out of the three singles the group have released, slow ballad “Stay Down” is a classic reflective moment for the three artists, featuring Baker as a lead and the others as chorus. This seems to be the format boygenius have taken to, and it is absolutely brilliant. Not only does “Stay Down” highlight Baker’s beautiful vocals, but the song also uses Bridgers and Dacus’ equally strong voices to add power to a relatively soft song, combining near the end for a harmonically perfect climax. –Clara Scott

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04. Nicki Minaj – “Barbie Dreams”

“Barbie Dreams” wasn’t a single off of Queen, but it could have been. Nicki Minaj spends the four-and-a-half-minute track taking a wild inventory of fellow rappers, name-dropping figures like Fetty Wap, Drake,  and Young Thug while leaving others up to speculation, all against a masterful backdrop. It’s catchy, sly, twangy hip-hop, with Minaj running her characteristic vocal gamut: wavering dramatically on “No, I ain’t stuttered and no, I ain’t Ruben,” even letting out an exaggerated snore before spitting, “Damn, a bitch snoozin’.” “Barbie Dreams” is Minaj at her freshest: assertive and relentless, with the freestyling talent and pitch-perfect lyrics to back it all up. –Laura Dzubay

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03. Mitski – “A Pearl”

Mitski’s new album, Be the Cowboy, is undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year. Of the record’s 14 songs, none is as balanced between raw emotion and musical virtuosity as “A Pearl”, Mitski’s half-ballad, half-rock anthem detailing the remnants of a love lost and often remembered. “It’s just that I fell in love with a war/ And nobody told me it ended,” she sings, both solemn and powerful at the same time, with the special kind of softness that only Mitski can create. The song is a highlight off of Be the Cowboy, among tough competition like “Nobody” and “Two Slow Dancers”. –Clara Scott

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02. Blood Orange – “Charcoal Baby”

Dev Hynes, better known as Blood Orange, plays to all of his strengths on “Charcoal Baby”. It’s a smooth, introspective track that expertly balances vulnerability and self-assurance. Hynes beckons the listener to look inward with melodic lines like, “Can you still count all of the reasons that you’re not alone?” A more than apt precursor to Negro Swan, “Charcoal Baby” turns an inward eye to the trauma of exclusion and social conditioning (“No one wants to be the odd one out at times/ No one wants to be the negro swan”) amidst a lush musical haze and an unforgettable guitar riff. –Laura Dzubay

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01. Tash Sultana – “Salvation”

“Salvation” encompasses what is so utterly astonishing about Tash Sultana’s work: what may initially come across as a soothing track is deeply rooted in rich layers and textures — so much so that several listens may be required to fully absorb them all. But with a track like “Salvation”, such a feat is a welcome pleasure. Sultana blends detail, intelligent lyricism, and sonic diversity together with the precision of a chemist. The result? The creation of a track so comprehensive that it exudes universal appeal. –Lindsay Teske

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