Take 5 is back! It’s a brand new year, but the formula stays the same. It’s been a couple of weeks, so let’s do a refresher on how this works for any new readers here in 2018. Each Monday, I deliver five songs conveniently arranged for you. These are the best, most noteworthy songs from the previous week. Maybe it’s a much-anticipated single, or maybe it’s a deep cut on a new album that stands out. No matter where each song comes from, these are tracks you need in your headphones. We even have a Spotify playlist for you at the end of the post for easy listening (the action, not the genre)! With that explanation handy, let’s get into the first Take 5 of 2018.

Tiny Moving Parts – Applause

We’ve barely had time to process that we have to write 2018 instead of 2017, and there’s already a full docket of releases that we can’t wait to get our hands on this year. Tiny Moving PartsSwell is on that list, and what we’ve heard from them here in this young year has us hopeful. That being said, “Applause” is a little on the less hopeful side of things. TMP have crafted another in a long line of relatable songs, a lament of the hurt that we remember from past years instead of the joys. The beginning of the music video that finds them in snowy Minnesota hits close to home for those of us who have been locked in weeks of cold, as well.

Justin Timberlake – Filthy

C’mon, you knew this was going to be here. When Justin Timberlake releases a new song, it’s going to be talked about. Like I said on Friday, this is definitely not the woodsy song we were promised, but it more than makes up for the fake-out. Timbaland is still an upper echelon producers, and JT can still perform the hell out of a pop song. Is it a seminal track that will be remembered as Timberlake’s greatest artistic achievement? Probably not. Is it fun as hell and going to be on my party playlist for the foreseeable future? Absolutely.

Natalie Major – Waves

Television can be a great place to find new music. Some of my favorite tunes have come from sessions of binge-watching and googling the music in between episodes. You know this if you happened to spend an evening last week watching Grown-ish, the spinoff of ABC’s Black-ish following Yara Shahidi’s character Zoey, the daughter of the family. If you’re one of those people, you heard Natalie Major’s fantastic new track “Waves.” True to its word, the song has a strong give and take along with a bunch of water-based lyrics. The fluctuations in Major’s voice during the chorus are especially effective.

Kendrick Lamar, SZA – All The Stars

You can find new music in movies, too! By all accounts, Marvel‘s Black Panther film is going to be incredible. That extends to the soundtrack, which was produced by the best in the game, Kendrick Lamar. He’s also a strong part of the first song from the OST, All The Stars. Lamar doesn’t back down here, rapping about the burden of leadership and expectation. Meanwhile, SZA turns in a stirring verse and a fantastic chorus showing off her range and the emotion she can pack into her voice. Seriously, is Black Panther out yet so I can go see it?

Au/Ra – Outsiders (Acoustic)

If you’re a regular Substream reader, Molly Hudelson brought this song to your attention last week. I heartily agree with everything she posted about Au/RA’s acoustic version of “Outsiders.” It’s a lyrical powerhouse, and the song is perfectly suited for the acoustic treatment it receives here. From the repurposing of Pink Floyd’s iconic hook to the thought put into the right blend of eerie, isolated atmosphere and layering still present, this is a masterpiece from the young Antiguan singer. If you need an anthem for embracing your uniqueness in 2018, this version of “Outsiders” isn’t a bad bet.


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