Photo Credit: Matthew Stone

This weekend was eventful, to say the least. No matter what your interests are, the last few days had something momentous for you. Avengers: Endgame came out, was very good, and made some money. The Battle of Winterfell happened on Game of Thrones and emotionally damaged everyone. Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie teamed up to release a new song. If sports are your thing, the NFL Draft took place and the NBA and NHL both have ongoing playoffs. It was a lot! I’m not trying to overload you any further, so no surprises in the column this week (okay, one thing to do with this weekend’s events. We’ll get there). It’s just the same Take 5 you’ve come to know and love, as dependable as always. Let’s dive in.

lauv – Drugs & The Internet

It feels like lauv never stops. He dropped a whole album/playlist in 2018 with I met you when I was 18 and has still been consistently dropping singles into 2019. His latest is “Drugs & The Internet,” and it features all the staples of a great lauv track. The lyrics are inventive and affecting, a tale about isolation, lonliness, and trying to find yourself and your meaning by whatever means happen to be in front of you. A stirring instrumental provides the emotional heartbeat behind the words, in this case a pulsing piano and a killer hook. Then there’s lauv’s voice, switching between the playful delivery of the wisecracks he can still fit into any song and the beautifully tender falsetto he employs so well. “Drugs & The Internet” is yet another great track from lauv, who might never slow down.

LANY, Julia Michaels – okay

LANY sure made a splash on their first collaboration. The trio brought Julia Michaels onboard for their latest single “okay,” and the results are magic. Paul Klein’s delivery is deadpan, but there’s a frantic energy in the pace of his delivery that really works. It seems he’s trying to convince himself he’s doing alright after a breakup, but the attempt isn’t going well. Michaels’s voice works well alongside Klein’s both by providing more emotional intensity and in the harmonies the two produce. The percussion and minimalistic approach to the music allows the story to take centerstage and sound great in their own right. Klein and Michaels both excel in their lyricism, and there are multiple moments where they go above and beyond. The slight pause between “I’m going to be okay” and “right?” in the lyrics is such a simple choice and reflects a thought we’ve all had, but that’s what makes it so brilliant. If the collaborations are going to be this high quality, we need more LANY collabs ASAP.

Lily Allen, Popcaan – What You Waiting For Remix

On an album full of great tracks, “What You Waiting For” from Lily Allen’s 2018 record No Shame was a standout. Allen’s tale of trying to cope with the emotional ramifications for her and her love after she cheated was a powerful song. It doesn’t shy away from the tough questions and lack of clear answers that come from that situation, and the snappy pop instrumental actually worked to give the song more gravity. Now we get to hear the other side of the story with the remix of “What You Waiting For” with Popcaan. The Jamaican artist serves as the voice of the betrayed party here, and he sells it perfectly. The confusion, anger, and pain all come through in a swirl of lyrics and crooning. Popcaan sounds good, and getting both perspectives on the track gives all of the lyrics a whole new light. The best remixes reframe how you listen to the original track as well, and Lily Allen and Popcaan have accomplished that here.

FKA twigs – Cellophane

The three-year wait for new FKA twigs has been long. It’s clear that it was worth it when you press play on “Cellophane,” though. Her writing and production is exquisite here. The gradual build of almost classical musical movements and ideas is enthralling. Wondering whether she’s enough or not, and questioning why the subject of the song doesn’t think she is makes for a heartbreaking theme. The breathless and soft delivery of the lyrics will tear at your emotions, and her more operatic moments will blow you away. While I don’t often talk about music videos here, in this case it definitely adds to the music. Twigs alone on a stage, pole-dancing in gold, channels the isolation and confusion of the track. FKA twigs has always been good at making artistic statements. “Cellophane” proves she hasn’t lost it over her break.

Alright, we’re talking about Endgame now. If you haven’t seen it yet, just know the music is really good. Stop reading now and enjoy your day. You have been warned.

Alan Silvestri – Main On End

I adored Avengers: Endgame. They somehow made this movie a perfect culmination of eleven years of story. It’s beautiful, and it was incredible to watch. The music hasn’t always been the best in the MCU, but Alan Silvestri’s work has always been top-notch. His Avengers theme is an instant classic, and this version that plays over the end credits is perfect. What’s always affected me about these movies is the heart in all of them. When you strip back the explosions and the quips and the powers, the MCU is very simple. It’s about a group of fundamentally decent people. They make mistakes, they argue, and sometimes they lose. But they always get up and they always press forward. They do it because they have the power to make the world better and because it’s the right thing to do. They carry hope that we can change things for good, and that any act of decency and kindness–no matter how big or small–is worth it. That’s how I feel watching these movies, and that’s how I feel listening to this music.

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