This is one of those weeks where I don’t really have anything specific to plug. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be checking the site every day, though. We’ve still got cool things going up every day. You should also be sure to subscribe to the playlist at the end of the column. This week we hit 200 songs on the playlist. That’s 200 of the year’s best songs, all for you to enjoy at your own leisure. You can’t beat that. Let’s dive into the newest track with this week’s Take 5.
Harry Styles – Lights Up
Harry Styles returned to us after two years. If anything was going to lead Take 5 this week, it was going to be him. It helps that his return single, “Lights Up,” is just as good as the best material from his self-titled solo debut. An acoustic guitar intro gives way to a groovy, wavy pop track that shimmies along with the strength of all Styles’s charm. From the piano on the hook to the chorus in the background, there’s much of “Lights Up” that sounds almost reverential as the singer vows to never turn his light off and encourages listeners to shine as brightly as they can. It’s smart and it’s a stellar listen, so in short its everything we’ve come to expect from Harry Styles.
Girl Wilde – BATSHiT
Girl Wilde dropped her debut EP Probably Crying last week, and it contains many of the tracks we’ve heard from her that made us fall in love. New track “BATSHiT” might be the best distillation of her “bubblegum grunge” sound, though. Warbling production and a lightning quick tempo fulfills the pop aspect of her sound, one that she thrives in. But Wilde also excels when she gets a little heavier in both lyrical and musical content and throwing caution to the wind. She goes for it all on “BATSHiT” from the in-your-face shouts of the chorus and some straight up punk guitar riffs we have yet to hear from her before. It’s clear Girl Wilde has a lot left to show us, and “BATSHiT” proves you’d be smart to listen.
Julien Baker – Tokyo
Do you need a good cry? Do you need a song that’s going to reach deep into your heart and squeeze until the tears come out? Then you already know Julien Baker has you covered. Just because she’s done it so many times before doesn’t mean she can’t keep getting better at it, which she does on “Tokyo.” The song takes flight as both a literal and metaphorical theme, as Baker ruminates over a shimmering synth and mournful guitars as she descends into the titular city while also descending into the wreckage of the problems surrounding her. As always, the wordplay, metaphors, and unflinching honesty of Baker’s lyrics ring devastatingly in listeners’ ears, letting us know exactly what she’s feeling. “Tokyo” is raw and powerful, rising and falling in heartbreaking fashion. As “Tokyo” shows, Julien Baker is still really, really good at what she does.
Bishop Briggs – JEKYLL & HIDE
We’re not getting through an October Take 5 without some sort of Halloween/horror reference (even if it’s tenuous at best) if I can help it. This week I’m getting an assist from Bishop Briggs and her new single “JEKYLL & HIDE.” Everything about the track is taken up to eleven, from the dramatically scored opening to the intensity with which Briggs roars through the chorus. Unsurprisingly based on the title, “JEKYLL & HIDE” sees Briggs confronting someone over their duplicitous nature, which she is having no part of whatsoever. The track was co-written with Substream favorite K.Flay, and you can feel the influence on the transition from verse to chorus and overall energy of the track. Multiple site favorites working on a track together that I can semi-link to my favorite holiday? Sign me up for that.
Marian Hill – like u do
If you were only to judge from the final product, you’d be hard-pressed to believe Marian Hill (Jeremy Lloyd and Samantha Gongol) ever struggled to write a fantastic song. But like all artists, the behind-the-scenes process can be a struggle. As detailed when the track was released, their new song “like u do” is in part a meta-commentary on their process after a period of creative stagnation. It’s great on its own merits, with a vibrant electronic jolt running through the track and Gongol’s vocals livening it up even more. But it’s taken to the next level by the peek behind the curtains which gives the track an extra emotional honesty that resonates throughout the runtime. Making things as good as “like u do” is hard. Luckily, Marian Hill are still up to the task.
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