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Angel’s Top 10: January

February 3, 2017

January marked an interesting time in the music industry, where rap/hip-hop slowly but surely ceased to dominate the top 10 of Billboard (bye bye, “Black Beatles”) and the ascent of movie soundtracks began to come into play. Multiple artists made comeback appearances (we missed you Ed Sheeran), and finally, we saw some newcomers make their debut. Out of all the songs released or made popular during January, here are my top 10 picks.

#10 – I Don’t Wanna Live Forever by Zayn Malik (feat. Taylor Swift)

Continuing the trend of “soundtracks that are better than the actual film itself” (yes Suicide Squad, we’re looking at you) Fifty Shades Darker, the second installment in the Fifty Shades movie series, has enlisted the likes of Zayn Malik and Taylor Swift to promote the film, and the end result isn’t what you might expect from the duo. The breathy, sultry ballad works to shed Swift’s formerly pristine image, and showcases her higher register in a manner I haven’t heard her sing before. Working with a megastar such as Swift has also solidified Malik’s status as a mainstay in pop music rather than the passing fling many critics predicted him to be. Musically, the track contains traces of R&B (likely accredited to Malik) without ever deviating from radio-friendly pop. The pair’s vocals are both astoundingly pleasing to the ear, with special regards to Zayn’s falsetto in the chorus.


#9 – Company by Tinashe

She can dance circles around any female in the industry. Her vocals are top notch. She’s drop dead gorgeous. Her style is like no other. So who is she you ask? The underrated artist I am referring to is Tinashe, the 23 year old multitalented starlet from Kentucky, and she just dropped the video for her latest single “Company”.

While her dancing skills are ever so breathtaking and natural, there’s also a lot to be said for the lyrics. She stated the song is about the “flirty play of being a young person— especially a young woman— and not being committed to someone, but still being able to have a good time”. In other words, women like her aren’t always in search of the one, but sometimes an idle fling for the night. She feels like that perspective is “something that’s under represented in music.” Watch her slay the choreo all whilst serving straight looks here!


#8 –  Bad and Boujee by Migos

Cited by Donald Glover as “the best song ever”, “Bad & Boujee” has become a widespread phenomenon that has taken over radio stations, social media, and even infiltrated pop culture. The infamous “rain drop, drop top line” isn’t the only ingenious element of the song however. The track revels in excessive wealth and the company of bad and “boujie” girls, in other words, women characterized by their expensive taste and prepossessing appearances. Girls everywhere are identifying with these features, making the song the quintessential trap record of the month. Though rap doesn’t necessarily please my palate usually, I find myself from time to time boppin to this track, so it’s definitely a recommended listen.


#7 –  Shape Of You by Ed Sheeran

With an intro reminiscent of the tropical percussive melodies in Sia’s smash hit Cheap Thrills, I knew at once from the beginning of the song I was listening to a future chart-topper.

Sheeran released “Shape of You alongside “Castle On The Hill”, a slower tempo guitar track paying homage to his upbringing.

Per usual, my instincts were correct, and “Shape of You” subsequently became Ed Sheeran’s first #1 song on the Billboard 200. This could be due in part to the “Thinking Out Loud” singer’s year long hiatus, but that doesn’t give credit to Sheeran’s stellar vocals on the track and his abnormally suave and sexy lyrics. “I’m in love with the shape of you / we push and pull like a magnet do” Sheeran croons in the chorus. He continues to lust over his unnamed lover’s physique throughout the song, and ultimately claims that while he is enraptured by her body, his heart may be fallin too.

#6 – Undercover by Kehlani

American R&B singer and songwriter Kehlani released SweetSexySavage on January 27. 

Interpolating Akon’s “Don’t Matter”, dark and sexy songstress Kehlani dropped the fourth single from her freshly released debut album SweetSexySavage, and just as her last singles, it’s a bonafide bop.The message? Much like Akon’s 2007 hit, the singer is saying to forget about other’s opinions on a relationship. No matter what the public thinks of her and that special someone, she’ll love him regardless, even if it has to be in secret, or “undercover.” The sleek production coupled with her killer sexy presence on the song couples for a perfect single choice. The contemporary urban track is just one of the many gems on her latest album, which can be purchased here or streamed on Spotify here.


#5 – Love on The Brain by Rihanna

“Work” and “Needed Me”, the first two singles from Rihanna’s 2016 album Anti, both served the purpose of proving queen Rih was still capable of dishing out bona fide radio-friendly bops, after her short break from the music scene. “Love on The Brain”, however, showcases the Barbadian princess doing vocal acrobatics around her competition, with runs comparable to Mariah Carey’s (yes, I said it). The 50’s doo wop inspired ballad has a retro feel that catapults the listener on a blast to the past and transports them to the time of the Bee Gees and The Temptations. After a progressing organ and syncopated strings intro, Rihanna pleads to her man and tells the semi-dark story of a toxic relationship where no matter how badly she is treated, she is incapable of leaving her lover, a situation with obvious parallels to her highly publicised relationship back in 2009.


#4 – Touch by Little Mix

The second “Touch” was announced as a single, I jumped for joy like a schoolgirl at the thought of this bubblegum pop masterpiece gracing the ears of mainstream America. I mean, one listen to the sugary soundscape on this song and I was already enamored by its wealth of charisma, eclectic bass line, and infectious build-up to the chorus, where the girls of Little Mix flirtingly claim “Just a touch of your love is enough to knock me off of my feet all week”.The accompanying music video was released January 19th, and though bandmate Perrie Edwards has been under fire for her questionable fashion choices in the video, the girl group is slaying nonetheless. If you don’t get the urge to sway your hips or snap your fingers when this song plays, you might want to have a little conversation with your doctor.


#3 – Make Me Cry by Noah Cyrus feat. Labrinth

There must be something in the water at the Cyrus household. Billy Ray Cyrus is a country icon, Miley is…. an icon (in her own right), and now Noah Cyrus, Miley’s younger sister, has inked a record deal with Records, and is debuting her first ever song.

Noah Cyrus, 16, is the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus and the younger sister of new ‘The Voice’ judge Miley Cyrus.

The single isn’t exactly what you’d expect, however. Shying away from the atypical bubbly pop tones of her sister, Cyrus creates her own alternative-leaning sound. Her mature vocals are impressive, especially for her young age, and the aptly chosen English singer Labrinth adds a layer of soul to the track.Thematically, the songs speaks of a toxic love that neither lover can walk away from. With a debut this poignant and insightful, I can definitely envision Noah Cyrus becoming a powerhouse to be reckoned with in the foreseeable future.


#2 – How Far I’ll Go from Moana Soundtrack

Disney has done it again. Or rather, Lin-Manuel Miranda. The mastermind behind Hamilton has crafted another musical gem, except this time fit for the big screen. “How Far I’ll Go” is the character-establishing ballad from Moana, a movie about an Pacific Islander daughter of a chief who wishes to venture farther than just her home village and traverse across the sea, and this track perfectly encapsulates this sentiment. “See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me and no one knows, how far it goes” yearns Auli’i Cravalho, the voice behind Moana. The listener can really feel the sense of longing through her voice. The song can also make sense outside the context of the film, offering audiences an inspiring message of perseverance in the face of opposition.


#1 – City Of Stars from La La Land Soundtrack

La La Land is a 2016 American romantic musical comedy-drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as a musician and an aspiring actress who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles. The film’s title refers both to the city of Los Angeles and to the idiom for being out of touch with reality.

When a movie garners rave reviews and becomes critically acclaimed enough to earn 7 Golden Globes, my mind instantly darts to the soundtrack. La La Land has quickly become this year’s inescapable blockbuster sensation, and deservedly so. With an innovative screenplay and bold artistic direction from Damien Chazelle, the film is not only aesthetically pleasing, but offers a heartfelt message of hope. However, this isn’t a review for La La Land. Though it pains me to do so, I’ll solely stick to the musical’s score, particularly City Of Stars. The song is a masterpiece. Also, who know Ryan Gosling (or Emma Stone) had vocal chops? The mournful piano ballad has the young lovers dreamily singing to not only each other, but the “City Of Stars” in which they’re living in (LA).  “I would say the tone is hopeful, but melancholy at the same time,” the films composer Justin Herwitz told Variety. “It kind of goes back-and-forth between cadencing in major and cadencing in minor, because I think that’s kind of what the song is about. You have these great moments and then you have these less great moments in life and in Los Angeles and we see it happen in the story.”


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