Those three weeks really flew by, didn’t they? Holidays, a distinct lack of cold weather, and the turning of a calendar seemed to last only a second. I hope all of you had excellent holiday seasons and had a chance to enjoy yourself however you saw fit. I’m also extremely excited because Take 5 is back for 2019! By and large, this is going to be the same column you’ve enjoyed since 2017, with a new selection of five songs every week chosen by me to fill up your ears. That being said, be on the lookout for a few wrinkles to the formula as the year continues. I’m not dropping anything wild on you to start with though, so let’s dig into the first five songs of 2019. I know I’ve said this before in bold, but I’m going to bold it again: There’s a new Take 5 playlist for 2019. It’s at the bottom of the page. Subscribe to it.

Sophie Ann – Read My Mind

Relationship anxiety can be a major pain. Overthinking can easily be the death of a promising opportunity, but turning off your brain can be the hardest thing in the world. If only our internal monologues sounded as good as Sophie Ann’s new single “Read My Mind,” which deals with exactly this subject. Ann sings about idolizing someone she barely knows but has fallen deeply for as a funky, bubbly bass line churns underneath her lyrics. If the verses take their inspiration from funk, the chorus is all big, extravagant pop. The single art features a vast cosmos, and that’s what the chorus sounds like, as Ann asks for the titular power so everyone can get on the same page of this flirtation. Those anxious thoughts in our head can make us want to scream when we first start crushing on someone. Sophie Ann’s “Read My Mind” is the perfect song to scream with when you’re feeling that way.

Lizzo – Juice

A worthy goal to set every year is to be nicer to the people around you. An equally important goal to set for this year is to be kinder to yourself, as well. We all deserve love. Lizzo has delivered the first anthem of 2019 with the self-affirming jam “Juice.” With a sound and music video both inspired by throwbacks from decades gone by, Lizzo is unafraid to let you know how much she loves herself. She jumps between powerful and playful lyrics, affirming her self-confidence while at the same time having a ton of fun doing it. You’re going to have fun listening to “Juice” as well, and hopefully some of the positive energy Lizzo exudes makes its way to you.

Claire Maisto – Slow

It’s not a Take 5 column if we don’t have something we can vibe to, and Claire Maisto expertly takes that role this week. “Slow” is as smooth as they come, a shimmering and moody track about budding attraction. Maisto’s lyrics are gripping and vivid, with her opening line metaphor about melting popsicles serving as an introduction to new listeners for her writing gift. “Kissing in the closet at the party” she sings on the chorus, as “Slow” explores the idea of attraction without label or pretense. It’s a thoughtful meditation on a subject we hear a lot about in pop music, and Maisto takes the extra step in parsing out all the meanings and feelings behind it. “Slow” is a strong second single from Claire Maisto, and it’s the perfect way to vibe this week.

Pasha – Right This Time

If you haven’t heard of Pasha, now’s a good time to get acquainted. The rapper, based in Norway by way of Iran, has an endless sea of talent residing within him. This is apparent on his recent track “Right This Time,” an introspective and dreamy selection. Pasha’s lyrics fly by as he confidently flows through metaphors and clever deliveries. The chorus mellows things out, with guest artist Soul Gem and Pasha crooning over producer Jerry Folk’s perfectly balanced beat. “Right This Time” is a collection of musicians on the rise combining their powers, and each of them shine in their own way. I have a feeling you’ll be hearing a lot from Pasha going forward, so “Right This Time” is your required learning.

D’Angelo – Unshaken

D’Angelo is a musical legend. Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2018, if not the entire decade. This might seem like a weird pairing, but it gave us D’Angelo’s gorgeous new single “Unshaken,” so there are no complaints here. A combination of D’Angelo’s trademark R&B mastery and some country twang create an earthy, powerful sound that wouldn’t sound out of place in the late 1800s. If you’re just hearing the song, the lyrics about standing strong against the changing tides of the world and hardship will move you. If you’ve played the game and know how the story ends, “Unshaken” is going to break you. Either way, D’Angelo has crafted yet another stellar song.

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