Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, British rapper Little Simz drops a battle cry that packs an imperative punch.
In less capable hands, an explosive orchestral track interspersed with rapid-fire, poetic rap verses and a chorus that glitters like the mid-’90s would be impossible. In the hands of Little Simz, it’s a tightly woven tapestry: a portrait of modern womanhood, and, more specifically, a Black British woman of Nigerian heritage using her voice despite the many forces working to silence her.
The song is expansive and grandiose, taking up space in every sense. The accompanying music video, directed by Salomon Ligthelm, shows Simz surrounded by dancers in the National History Museum, a choice that feels deeply intentional: here is a young Black woman, sharing her call to action in her own words, in an institution dedicated to the old guard, artifacts often torn violently from their home countries, and monuments to a complicated history. Through this lens, some of the lyrics pack an even harder punch: “I’m a Black woman and I’m a proud one/ We walk in blind faith not knowing the outcome/ But as long as we’re unified, then we’ve already won.” Interestingly, Emma Corin of The Crown fame lends her voice to the chorus, only deepening the ties the song seems to have with the idea that we are collectively standing on a precipice, the past pulling us one way while the hazy future pulls us in another.
The movement in the video was choreographed by Kloe Dean, and the alternatively fluid and sharp direction throughout the group shots and individual solos from dancers is interspersed with footage of protests through the decades. Again, the message is clear: the fight for Black liberation is not a new one. Little Simz has not lost her faith, though — and with the battle drums, triumphant horns, and commanding strings leading the charge on “Introvert”, neither should we.
“If you can’t feel pain, then you can’t feel the opposite.”
The Alchemist – “Nobles” (feat. Earl Sweatshirt & Navy Blue)
Red-hot producer The Alchemist has announced a new EP, This Thing of Ours, out April 30th via EMPIRE. To kick off the project, he shared the first single, “Nobles”, featuring Earl Sweatshirt and Navy Blue. “Nobles” features a beat reminiscent of Alchemist’s 2001 Jadakiss collab, “We Gonna Make It“, with triumphant, soaring strings. It also features a movie dialogue sample nestled alongside Earl Sweatshirt and Navy Blue’s stream of consciousness lyrics like, “Life’s sweet when you know the cause/ Thousand-yard stare, I was looking SARS/ Smoker’s cough, ash in the air/ Not scared when we send them off.” –Eddie Fu
Angel Olsen – “Alive and Dying (Waving, Smiling)”
Last month, Angel Olsen announced a new box set called Song of the Lark and Other Far Memories that contains her 2019 album All Mirrors, her 2020 record Whole New Mess, and a bonus LP called Far Memory. It’s out in full next month, but today she’s giving fans another taste with a song called “Alive and Dying (Waving, Smiling)”. In its original form, “Waving, Smiling” appeared on the stripped-back Whole New Mess, but this version features an 11-piece string arrangement that makes it feel a lot more like an All Mirrors track. It’s an incredibly beautiful arrangement and Olsen’s voice is in peak form. “This song is all about chapters closing, and learning to let go of things I can’t understand,” she said in a statement. “It’s very me — I will always nosedive into love, and suffering can definitely come with that. When I hear this version the strings really bring the song to its necessary bittersweet boiling point.” Song of the Lark and Other Far Memories is due out May 7th via Jagjaguwar and pre-orders for its exquisite vinyl packaging are ongoing. –Eli Enis
CHVRCHES – “He Said She Said”
CHVRCHES have returned with their first new single in nearly two years, “He Said She Said”. After dropping Love Is Dead in 2018, the Scottish trio embarked on an extensive tour, before beginning 2020 with what they thought would be a quick break. Instead, they found themselves quarantining on opposite sides of the world, with Martin Doherty and singer Lauren Mayberry isolating in Los Angeles while Iain Cook holed up in Glasgow. The indie poppers became much more familiar with video call and audio sharing technologies, writing songs together despite being over 5,000 miles apart. “He Said She Said” was the first result, and it combines an irresistible melody with Mayberry’s lyrics full of white-hot rage about how “being a woman is fucking exhausting.” Mayberry recounts some of the obnoxious comments she’s received from men over the years, singing, “He said, ‘You need to be fed’/ ‘But keep an eye on your waistline’ and/ ‘Look good but don’t be obsessed’/ Keep thinking over, over, I try.” –Wren Graves
UV-TV – “Back to Nowhere”
Queens, New York, indie rockers UV-TV are back with another sunny burst of ’90s-style guitar pop. They just released a new single called “Back to Nowhere”, and it’s ripe with jangly riffs, a giddy drumbeat, and one hell of a feel-good chorus. “Back to Nowhere” is the second track UV-TV have shared from Always Something, the band’s upcoming studio album. It follows lead single “Distant Lullaby”, which earned a coveted spot as one of the best songs of the week thanks to its power-pop hook and discreet shoegaze guitar tones. Always Something is the first album UV-TV has written since moving to New York from Gainesville, Florida, and it’s their first proper record to feature their new drummer Ian Rose. Always Something is due out on May 28th via PaperCup Music. Pre-orders are currently ongoing over at the band’s Bandcamp. –Nina Corcoran
Wolf Alice – “Smile”
Wolf Alice are back with a new single from their upcoming album, Blue Weekend. Musically, “Smile” is a bold number that sees Wolf Alice drumming up a tidal wave of energy, confidence, and passion akin to that on “The Last Man on Earth”, the album’s debut single. Singer Ellie Rowsell and the rest of the band penned “Smile” during lockdown as a way to clap back against the naysayers in life who try to put them in their place. As a result, it captures them in a wild, contagious mood. “This is one of the songs we wrote thinking that we would play it live,” said Rowsell in a statement. “I miss that feeling of singing on stage. It’s like screaming into a pillow or something — you can get away with being more nasty. There’s a whole other part of me missing” Blue Weekend is Wolf Alice’s third studio LP to date, following Visions of a Life and 2015’s My Love Is Cool. Pre-orders for the new record are still ongoing at the band’s website. –Nina Corcoran
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