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Top 10 Songs of the Month: Cardi B, Drake, Janelle Monáe, and Prince

April's bounty makes it much easier to put Kanye on hold for another month

Prince, Cardi B, and Janelle Monáe
Prince, Cardi B, and Janelle Monáe
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    Kanye West may have us all fast-forwarding to June 1st, but let’s not forget that April was absolutely jam-packed with remarkable music. From dropping jaws at Coachella to revealing a baby bump on SNL to conquering the Billboard Hot 100 with practically every song charting off her debut album, Invasion of Privacy, Cardi B has proven “Bodak Yellow” was no fluke and justified all those grown men out there imitating her high-pitched chirps.

    We also can’t forget megastars like Drake and The Weeknd amassing millions of clicks on their videos without breaking a sweat, Chicago’s own Saba releasing arguably the most thoughtful hip-hop album of a young 2018, or Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis treating us to one of the best-sounding pop albums we’ve heard in a long while.

    You’ll find some of that here. Some of it you won’t. Frankly, we got spoiled silly in April — to the point where, if we’re smart, we’ll put Kanye on hold and go back for a few more listens.

    –Matt Melis
    Editorial Director


    10. Post Animal – “Gelatin Mode”

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    Release: From When I Think of You in a Castle out now on Polyvinyl

    Clocking in at nearly six minutes, “Gelatin Mode” is a colossal explosion of sound that boldly emerges as the heavy hitter on Post Animal’s long-awaited debut album, When I Think of You in a Castle. The album’s release follows Post Animal’s astronomical ascent in which they went from opening at local gigs to touring with Wavves in less than a year, cementing their status as psych-rock masterminds along the way. Infused with intensity and head bang-worthy riffs, “Gelatin Mode” proves that Post Animal know how to create an irresistible elixir of electricity and innovation. –Lindsay Teske


    09. Allen Stone – “Brown Eyed Lover”

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    Release: Single out now on ATO

    Toting a singular soul and sense of groove, Allen Stone has released “Brown-Eyed Lover”, his first song in advance of an upcoming tour this fall. The song is sweet and jazzy, but also an unapologetic expression of big-band soul in a modern market that rarely gives it an audience. “Lover” comes as the first new music in almost three years from Stone and a fantastic start to a new era of grooviness. –Clara Scott


    08. Fidlar – “Alcohol”

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    Release: Single out now on Mom+Pop

    FIDLAR brings the ultimate trifecta of refreshingly blunt lyrics, addictive rhythms, and scuzz-suffused guitar riffs together in perfect harmony with “Alcohol”, their first original release since their 2015 sophomore album, Too. FIDLAR’s knack for fueling their songs with an intoxicating combination of verve and nihilism finds no exception with “Alcohol,” its raw power and spunk hitting the ear with as much gusto as the first shot of the night hits the brain. Like finally opening an old bottle of whisky, this song was well worth the wait. –Lindsay Teske


    07. Kali Uchis – “After the Storm” ft. Tyler, the Creator and Bootsy Collins

    Release: From Isolation out now on Universal

    Kali Uchis treats listeners to a groove-infused celebration of independence and positivity in “After the Storm”, a standout track from her debut album, Isolation. “After the Storm” serves as a tranquil oasis within the otherwise largely uptempo album, its uplifting lyrics and ethereal nature taking on the auditory form of a summer breeze. With guest appearances from Tyler, the Creator and Bootsy Collins only furthering the flair, “After the Storm” proves that Uchis knows how to conjure up effortless excellence. –Lindsay Teske


    06. Saba – “Prom / King”

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    Release: From Care for Me out now on Saba Pivot

    From its inception, hip-hop has boasted (and demonstrated) the ability to depict the world in arguably higher definition than other genres of music. Much of the reason rising Chicago rapper Saba’s remarkable sophomore release, Care for Me, resonates is because that while most of the songs are inspired by the recent violent loss of the emcee’s cousin Walter, a man we’ve never met, songs like “Prom / King” celebrate and mourn loss in a way we can all identify with. The jazzy track, all piano and percussion, finds Saba looking back in pinpoint detail to his time with Walt leading up to prom and later to the day he learned his cousin was missing. It’s a window into the rapper’s memories sure, but more so it’s a look at how the grieving mind works, and one can’t help but listen and begin to think about his or her own Walter. –Matt Melis


    05. Prince – “Nothing Compares 2 U”

    Release: Single out now on NPG

    We’ve all heard the brilliant opening line to “Nothing Compares 2 U” countless times. It’s a lyric that perfectly depicts the painful precision with which we ache and pine when our hearts have been broken. This month, after years of hearing Sinéad O’Connor’s definitive ’90s version and numerous covers, the “Prince Vault” cracked open to release The Purple One’s original studio recording of the classic for the first time ever. Gone is the dramatic sweep, powerhouse vocals, and cold isolation of O’Connor’s take, replaced instead by plodding raindrop percussion, gospel harmonies, and tear-soaked sax that conjure the image of a crushed man aimlessly wandering through a world that has lost all direction since he’s been left. It’s a breathtaking reminder of Prince’s abilities as a performer and a credit to his genius as a songwriter that such disparate versions of the same song could be equally powerful. –Matt Melis


    04. Janelle Monáe  – “I Like That”

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    Release: From Dirty Computer, out now on Bad Boy

    Janelle Monáe is back with a vengeance and not taking anything from anyone in advance of her new album, Dirty Computer, the artist’s third full-length. Songs like “I Like That” showcase Monáe’s brash individualism and knack for fusing smooth R&B and slick rap into one futuristic mix ridden with catchy hooks and melodic virtuosity. The song is worth a listen based on technical skill alone, but mostly for Monáe’s pure swagger, which oozes from every lyric. –Clara Scott


    03. Ariana Grande – “No Tears Left to Cry”

    Release: Single out now on Republic

    Just when we thought nobody could touch Drake or The Weekend this month when it comes to sheer clicks and listens, Ariana Grande dropped a late April game-changer in “No Tears Left to Cry”. Bolstered by a dazzling debut at Coachella, Grande’s latest single finds the pop star deftly shifting between vocal cadences, one second giving a pep talk and belting out the song’s titular refrain the next. Between losses in her family and the tragic bombing at her 2017 Manchester concert, Grande clearly knows the feeling of being totally cried out. But you can forget about there being any hint of defeat in “No Tears”. It’s climbing charts now for the same reason it’ll still be relevant come year-end time and beyond: it nudges us toward hope and resilience at times when we feel our most hopeless and powerless. –Matt Melis


    02. Drake – “Nice for What”

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    Release: From Scorpion, out this summer from Cash Money

    “Nice for What” has been sitting cozily atop the charts, and it’s easy to understand why: it has a certain infectiousness to it that’s nearly impossible to shake from memory. The beat seeps into the veins like a jolt of adrenaline, and Drake’s rapping over the smooth-sounding background vocals serves up some serious stylistic juxtaposition. “Nice for What”, which features the work of noted producer Murda Beatz, will be included on Drake’s upcoming album, Scorpion, set for a summer release. If this track is any indication of what Scorpion has to offer, then this year might just end up being pretty nice for Drake. –Lindsay Teske


    01. Cardi B – “I Like It”

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    Release: From Invasion of Privacy out now on Atlantic

    What can anyone say about Cardi B that hasn’t already been said? The woman is becoming a legend, riding the wave of fame during a month that may be the most successful of her life, from a dramatic pregnancy reveal on SNL to every song of her debut album landing on the charts. The gem of Invasion of Privacy, club banger “I Like It” meshes B’s Latinx roots with brutal and striking rap skills that could make anyone dance, creating a memorable track among an album full of star power. –Clara Scott

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