Did you guys see Jewel tear apart Ann Coulter? Totally not a sentence I expected to be typing in 2016, but there it is, and boy was it marvelous. But that’s just got our gears a-grindin’ for next year’s roast and what wacky, delightful, unexpected musician/political personality burns we might get to see. Perhaps Sheryl Crow will call out James Carville! Or maybe Lisa Loeb will take down Wolf Blitzer! Maybe we’ll finally get to see Natalie Imbruglia really insult Rush Limbaugh! We can dream. Until then, we’ll just have to get lost in the dream world of a new batch of 10 excellent tracks.
10. Sia feat. Kendrick Lamar – “The Greatest”
There’s an unwritten requirement for pop stars that says they must write an empowering anthem, one that lifts you up and encourages strength in the face of difficulties. Sia stepped up to the plate this week with her own pick-me-up: “The Greatest”. The gentle hit uses airy instrumentals to speak about perseverance and brings Kendrick Lamar on board for a verse of his own on the topic. “Letdowns will get you/ And the critics will test you,” he raps. “But the strong will survive/ Another scar may bless you.” The song’s music video — a reprise of Maddie Ziegler and 49 dancers who work through a tribute to Orlando shooting victims — gives even more meaning to the song, reminding listeners that, as any good pop song should, it’s theirs to mold, and Sia’s has the right structure to make it listenable for hours on end. –Nina Corcoran
09. Swet Shop Boys – “Zayn Malik”
As regular visitors to CoS have undoubtedly noticed over the past few years, the lines between cinema, television, and music have all but vanished. Featuring budding actor Riz Ahmed (The Night Of), Swet Shop Boys represent this cultural amalgam. Not dissimilar to the likes of Donald Glover and Tyler, the Creator, Ahmed’s gifts as an all-around entertainer translate directly into his musical approach. Alongside Das Racist’s Heems, “Zayn Malik” is a freestyle” that eventually took the shape of an existential view of aspirations and inspirations thanks to the duo’s quick wits, lyrical improvisation, and comfort riffing off another collaborator. Keep it on repeat, as the references to Marcus Garvey and the sanitation of information might be missed when getting down the first time around. Secure the pair’s debut full-length, Cashmere, on October 14th. –Derek Staples
08. St. Lenox – “Thurgood Marshall”
The only thing more sweet than the story behind Andy Choi’s new album as St. Lenox might be the music within. Ten Hymns for American Gothic acts as the Korean American’s gift to his father for the elder Choi’s 70th birthday, and early preview “Thurgood Marshall” finds St. Lenox looking for inspiration from the first African-American Supreme Court justice. The lawyer/classically trained violinist builds off of layered keyboards, chiming guitar, and a snappy drumbeat, all led by his John Darnielle-like tumbled lyrics. Though it may not be your 70th birthday, you too can enjoy Ten Hymns from My American Gothic when it drops October 21st.–Adam Kivel