2016: The Year in Charts

Must-Hear Music Podcast: Lana Del Rey, Carrie Underwood, K. Michelle & More

2014 is coming to a close, but there's still plenty of musical life left in the year. On this week's Must-Hear Music podcast, we get a little more indie than usual while also touching on R&B, country and country-flavored R&B.

Alongside new guest Katie Atkinson, Jason Lipshutz and Joe Lynch talk about Lana Del Rey's contribution to Big Eyes, the first live-action Tim Burton movie without Johnny Depp and a sh*tload of CGI since Big Fish.

We also talk about the second new song Carrie Underwood tagged onto her Greatest Hits: Decade #1 compilation, as well as a very country-inflected tune from rising R&B star K. Michelle. With Of Montreal and Twin Shadow announcing new albums for 2015, we discuss the first tastes from those, and also tackle Portland's The Weeknd-esque singer Shy Girls.

Download the podcast on iTunes (and subscribe while you're at it), or listen below. Beneath the SoundCloud, listen to the tunes we talk about and check out selections from our discussion.

Lana Del Rey, "Big Eyes"

Joe: This is for Tim Burton's film Big Eyes about artist Margaret Keane, a woman who painted doe-eyed kids that became the inspiration for The Powerpuff Girls. Lana Del Rey sings the line, "With your big eyes and your big lies," which is basically peak LDR.

Jason: This is almost a dirge in the way that "Young & Beautiful" was for The Great Gatsby. People like that song, too, but I just can't get into it like "West Coast" or "Blue Jeans."

Katie: Maybe it could get the "Summertime Sadness" treatment and have radio life. Because this isn't a single as it is.

K. Michelle, "God I Get It"

Joe: I was going to pick the song about her wanting to date Drake, but the album's last song is so bizarre. You could imagine Taylor Swift singing this two albums ago. There's a slide guitar! This is a country song.

Jason: She's worked so hard not to be boxed into the contemporary R&B mold. She's hungry to achieve more, and I hope this new album pushes her past core R&B fans.

Katie: I did not love this song. Once you said the Taylor Swift comparison, I couldn't unhear it. It almost reminds me of early '90s Amy Grant.

Carrie Underwood, "Little Toy Guys"

Joe: This comes from her Greatest Hits: Decade #1 compilation. Unlike so many artists who title their hits comp Vol. 1, there will definitely be Vol. 2 for Carrie. 

Katie: This reminded me of "Blown Away," which was similarly about domestic violence. With how well "Something in the Water" is doing, this could almost be another hit for her. I'm not sure the "little toy guns" metaphor works too well, though.

Jason: She's so talented, and she does things with country pop that straight pop singers can't do in their lane.

Shy Girls, "Renegade"

Joe: Shy Girls is one guy, he's from Portland, and he's basically The White The Weeknd.

Jason: I bristle at that comparison. Shy Girls is less about the crazy sex than he is about feeling alone. He's minimalist R&B, but I think he covers more ground than the Weeknd.

Of Montreal, "Bassem Sabry" Joe: This song is named after an Egyptian journalist who covered the Egyptian Revolution and recently died, though I'm not sure what this has to do with him. If anything, it's very much a throwback. It sounds like Nile Rodgers or Sparks, the art-pop duo from the '70s.

Katie: I saw them warm up for Grace Jones, which was so perfect with their weirdness and theatricality. I like this song -- it's super fun and it's very listenable.

Jason: I liked Hissing Fauna, but I really haven't paid attention to them since. It's not that I don't like them, I just never really got into them. I find their stage show distracting.

Twin Shadow, "Turn Me Up" Jason: I wasn't a huge fan of his first album Forget, but his second, Confess, was so good. I feel like he could be poised for a moment like St. Vincent had earlier this year, where his next album could really break him through.

Katie: It's more rock than dance, but the vibe reminds me of Disclosure.