Have you done your taxes yet? I hope so! If not, I also hope that I’m not the first reminder you’ve received that you need to get them done by tomorrow. I know, doing your taxes can be a chore, but I’m just looking out for all of you. Plus, you can use the tunes from Take 5 as your soundtrack while you’re working on them. If you have done your taxes already, you can spend that sweet refund on Record Store Day, which is this coming Saturday. I know that I’m going to spend way too much money, but there are just so many excellent releases coming out. No matter how you choose to spend your time or money this week, Take 5 is here for you.

Nicki Minaj – Barbie Tingz

There are several variations of Nicki Minaj. Some of the major variations are pop star Nicki (“Superbass”), playful Nicki (“Anaconda”), and world-destroying Nicki (“Monster”). The last one is my favorite Nicki, and to my delight, that’s the Nicki who showed up on her two new singles, “Chun Li” and “Barbie Tingz.” While I like both of the songs, “Barbie Tingz” is Nicki at her most ruthless, a combination of sizzling wordplay and pointed barbs (pun intended). Whether it’s boasting about the selling power of Young Money, flaunting her success and wealth, or referencing Transformers, Nicki doesn’t let up for the full three-minute runtime. Good luck to anyone who gets in her way.

Amy Shark – I Said Hi

Winter absolutely refuses to let us out of its grip, which is an apt metaphor for how much of a slog life can be sometimes. It feels on some days that everything in the world is piling on you, wanting you to fail. For a quick boost of motivation, try Amy Shark‘s new single “I Said Hi.” Using the imagery of a “tired boxer,” Shark pushes through the adversity when everyone expects her to quit. The song builds in emotional and musical intensity as Shark finds her strength and stands up for herself, a message we all need every now and then. Shark is a masterful songwriter, and “I Said Hi” captures her quiet resolve that blossoms into fiery energy in a stirring indie-pop jam.

Florence + The Machine – Sky Full of Song

The last we heard from Florence + The Machine was on 2015’s beautifully ambitious How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Florence Welch’s beautifully haunting voice, visionary writing, and musical knowhow always makes for good music, and new single “Sky Full of Song” is no exception. The track is largely restrained, never fully breaking into the soaring heights that some of Welch’s most iconic tracks reach. Instead, Welch takes the chance to showcase a quieter side of her writing, with lyrics that would work on their own as an incredible piece of poetry. If we get a whole album full of this, you can pencil Florence + The Machine into the AOTY conversation.

Bear McCreary – God of War

Bear McCreary joins Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein back in October 2017 as the second composer to be featured in Take 5. McCreary is the composer for the highly-anticipated God of War coming to Playstation 4 this week, and the soundtrack was released a week early. The soundtrack’s titular opening theme is a perfect encapsulation of the direction of the game, with the rage-consumed Kratos mellowed by age and fatherhood. With deep booming drums and an ominous chant, there’s a sense of determination in the track, while still carrying a hint of Kratos’ anger. The music also provides the perfect soundscape to the Norse setting of the game, and the musical climax towards the end gives the track a fittingly epic scale for the continuation of an epic video game journey.

Princess Nokia – Your Eyes Are Bleeding

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I was not in the know about Princess Nokia until the release of 1992 Deluxe last fall, and I clearly had been missing out. A seamless blend of punk & emo with hip-hop, Princess Nokia’s music is everything I have ever needed. Last Friday she graced us with another set of new songs in the form of EP A Girl Cried Red, and “Your Eyes Are Bleeding” is one of my favorite new tracks from the project. I remember that creeping insecurity about myself and about if anyone actually liked me while I was growing up, an insecurity I’m still not entirely over. “Your Eyes Are Bleeding” is that feeling in a song, combined with a fantastic beat.


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