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, BTS gifted us with a clear contender for the song of the summer.
BTS, everyone’s favorite international seven-member force of nature, have generously dropped the song of the summer. “Butter” is the bop we’ve been waiting for and marks the group’s second full-length single in English since last year’s earth-shaking “Dynamite.” If “Dynamite” was a shimmering ‘70s-inspired explosion, “Butter” is the next decade’s answer — a synth-drenched, swaggering track sitting comfortably on an addictive bassline.
It’s a given that BTS understands the assignment, and often (as with today’s release) the Bangtan Boys end up tearing up the assignment completely and delivering something all their own. “Butter” feels like driving with the windows down on a sunny morning. It feels like Aperol Spritzes on a rooftop. It feels like a technicolor fever dream — but what, exactly, qualifies it as song of the summer?
Beyond the mind-boggling stats rolling in — Forbes reports that BTS broke their own record with an estimated 3.89 million viewers tuning into the live premiere of the music video — the song is, sonically, bright pop perfection. The chorus is an earworm, and Jungkook’s raspy “get it, let it roll” demands to be played time and time again. Jin slides up to his signature airy upper register before V brings us back down to earth in the second verse, where the harmonies double. Jimin characteristically floats through with ease, reminding us of his “superstar glow” — as if we could forget.
One of the most fun aspects of “Butter” is the inclusion of throwback-infused rap verses from RM and Suga and an outro from J-Hope (who, naturally, steals the dance break in the music video). Suga’s nonchalant “hate us, love us” says it all — it doesn’t matter what the masses say.
BTS is going to keep doing what they’ve been doing so well: obliterating records, delivering bops, and showing up the competition with a wink and a smile. Do we have a song of the summer? You butter believe it, baby.
— Mary Siroky
Editor’s Note: Make sure to check out Stanning BTS, a biweekly podcast covering anything and everything having to do with BTS and ARMY.
Wednesday — “Handsome Man”
Emerging from Asheville, North Carolina, the rockers of Wednesday are leveraging young adult absurdity to their advantage. “Handsome Man” captures prolonged angst, from the lyrics to the accompanying visual, and the lilting, emotional vocals from lead vocalist and guitarist Karly Hartzman successfully hook the listener and then refuse to let go. Thrift store attire, bucket hats, and costume jewelry adorn the young rockers against the backdrop of a bare forest and a semi-abandoned strip mall — suburban malaise is still a powerful force, but the members of Wednesday are channeling it for the better.
— Mary Siroky
City Girls — “Twerkulator”
City Girls have returned just in time to heat things up for summer, landing a majorly-hyped return in the form of “Twerkulator.” TikTok users and City Girl enthusiasts might recognize the song from its already-viral sweep across the internet, but the full-length track and appropriately no-holds-barred music video live up to the hype. The song has arrived club-ready, and even though it’s hardly longer than just two minutes, the track has everything it needs to keep Yung Miami and JT on their upward trajectory: bouncy production, quick, clever verses, and a beat that brings the title fully to life.
— Mary Siroky
Audrey Nuna ft. Saba — “Top Again”
Written during a rainy day at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Top Again” finds New Jersey native Audrey Nuna fantasizing about a backyard party on the last day of the world. “Dance ’til the pretty die,” she sings. “Don’t come inside/ ‘Til I’m on top again.” Chicago MC Saba joins the Korean-American artist on the slick R&B groove, contributing to the theme with fatalistic rhymes referencing the Armageddon. The lyrics may be dark, but they accurately reflect the anxieties of the past year — making “Top Again” a fitting soundtrack for apprehensively stepping back outside to party again.
— Eddie Fu
Vundabar — “Aphasia”
Boston trio Vundabar are known for giddy, rambunctious, strung-out rock that fans can jump around recklessly. This week, however, they returned with a standalone single called “Aphasia” that veers in a new direction. It’s a low-key ballad marked with wordless “doo-doos” and solemn strumming. Originally about the struggle to describe oneself, the song took on new meaning after singer-guitarist Brandon Hagen’s dad suffered a stroke in the midst of quarantine. That uncanny timing resulted in a “global aphasia” of sorts, and Hagen beautifully draws out that complicated feeling in the song with help from guest vocalist Indigo De Souza.
— Nina Corcoran
Faye Webster — “I Know I’m Funny haha”
Atlanta’s Faye Webster finds joy in life’s quieter moments, among the tiny details that many artists wouldn’t deem worthy of art. In a statement, she called them “things that people might easily overlook and don’t think are worthy or pretty enough to be sung. I think that’s what people relate to it the most, and I think it’s an aspect of songwriting that you don’t get to hear often.” But you, dear reader, can hear them in her new song “I Know I’m Funny haha,” a pointillist piece that sketches out a whole relationship dot by seemingly unconnected dot. The landlord who kept her security deposit, the partner’s family who forgot who she was, a gift bass inspired by a guy from Linkin Park, it all adds up to powerful romance that doesn’t depend on mushy words like “love.” “I know I’m funny,” she sings, adding a dry little “ha ha ha,” to prove the point. Listening to the song is such an intimate experience, you almost feel in on the joke.
— Wren Graves
Top Songs Playlist
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