Must-Hear Music Podcast: Wu-Tang Clan, Fifth Harmony, Theophilus London & More
On this week's Must-Hear Music podcast, the Billboard staff talks about an eclectic bunch of new songs in the worlds of hip-hop, indie, R&B and pop.
Since Pop-Shop's Jason Lipshutz was lucky enough to attend an advance listening session of Wu-Tang Clan's long-awaited A Better Tomorrow album, we discuss the new Wu track, "Ruckus in B Minor." Also in the rap world, we chat about the lead track from Theophilus London's new album Vibes!, a song that eschews classic soul samples in favor of bringing a classic soul artist (Leon Ware) into the studio to create new material.
Lipshutz, Joe Lynch and Erika Ramirez also trade thoughts on Fifth Harmony's '80-tinged new single, Mary J. Blige's acoustic ballad and the song Chvrches contributed to the upcoming Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack.
Download the podcast on iTunes (and rate it!) or listen below. Beneath the SoundCloud, listen to the songs we talk about and check out highlights from our conversation.
Wu-Tang Clan, "Ruckus in B Minor"
Jason: When I was listening to the new album, hanging in the studio with RZA, I realized 9-year-old-me would be crapping his pants. If you're a fan, this is the album you've been waiting for. It's a back to basics album. Ghostface didn't get enough time on the last Wu-Tang album, but he gets plenty of time to shine on this.
Erika: It's hard nowadays to be excited for a full album, but this is different, it's Wu-Tang.
Joe: It's certainly not reinventing anything, but they're not resting on their laurels, either. Although it did make me laugh that the first verse is just naming off TV shows from 2014, like, 'Hey, we know what's going on.'
Theophilus London ft. Leon Ware, "Water Me"
Joe: I wanted to focus on this track because I think what he's doing here is so cool. Instead of sampling a classic soul artist -- there are no samples on the album -- Theophilus London went out and grabbed former Marvin Gaye collaborator Leon Ware, brought him into the studio and made new music.
Erika: I interviewed Theophilus London and we talked about Leon Ware. London did whatever Leon Ware wanted to do -- he even went and got coffee for him. Whatever Ware wanted to get him more inspired, Theophilus went for. He let him guide him.
Jason: I cannot get behind this song. I was zoning out.
Mary J. Blige, "When You're Gone"
Erika: This is sad song. You're used to a certain type of heartbreak ballad from Mary J. Blige and I think this is more progressive than what we usually hear. This is a different type of production than we usually hear from her.
Joe: I was impressed that for a slower song, she kept it so minimal. It's mostly acoustic guitar, whereas most soul producers would feel the need to toss in strings or a piano bit.
Fifth Harmony, "Sledgehammer"
Jason: I'm not sure how well this will do, but this is a very well-written pop song. I love the rapidity of the chorus, I like how it slows down in the bridge, and it's the best description of teenage love in pop music since Demi Lovato's "Heart Attack."
Joe: I'm not a Fifth Harmony fan, I didn't like their EP, but I might actually love this song. The vocals blend together, instead of having each girl take a spot at the solo, which gets boring.
Chvrches, "Dead Air"
Joe: This is their song from the Lorde-curated Mockingjay soundtrack, and it gives us plenty of opportunities to make puns on "Lorde" and "Chvrches." As for the song, this is familiar territory for them, but they construct great songs, so this works. It's a welcoming sound.
Jason: They know their lane. This sounds very similar to their debut The Bones of What You Believe, but a little more anthemic than usual.