FLYING LOTUS FEATURING ERYKAH BADU
See Thru to U (2:24)
Producer: Steven Ellison
Writers: S. Ellison, E. Badu
Publishers: Divine Pimp Publishing/Universal Music
Experimental electronic auteur Steve Ellison, better-known as Flying Lotus, has recently been trying to blend all-star vocalists into his esoteric soundscapes, to varying degrees of success. But Erykah Badu’s sultry cooing slides perfectly in line with the producer’s multitiered approach on “See Thru to U,” the first taste of forthcoming full-length “Until the Quiet Comes”. Badu’s distant singing acts as yet another fine-tuned instrument for Flying Lotus to play with, as she repeats “I know, I know, I know” and searches for clarity as the oscillating drum section does the same. At times desperately spare and at other points purposely cluttered, “See Thru to U” contains its strokes of free-form jazz within its two-and-a-half minutes, poking at but never rushing through different pockets of sound. “See Thru to U” could have been an outtake from either of Badu’s triumphant “New Amerykah” albums. Instead, it’s a searing centerpiece of another great Flying Lotus LP.
One More Night (3:39)
Producers: Max Martin, Shellback
Though “Overexposed” marked a pop-centric about-face in Maroon 5’s sound, “One More Night” is one of the few songs on its new album that could have fit in on the band’s past records. “One More Night” is very much a rock song, but with a hint of reggae and a thick pop sheen, courtesy of producers Max Martin and Shellback. Perhaps that hint of familiarity has led to its quick chart success — or maybe it was frontman Adam Levine finding an excuse to get shirtless in its music video. Either way, “One More Night,” which recently leapt into the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, figures to continue Maroon 5’s hit streak following ubiquitous singles “Moves Like Jagger” and “Payphone.” The track is hardly blazing new trails for Maroon 5, but it’s certainly zeroing in on the group’s newly updated sonic sweet spot.
Wildest Moments (3:42)
Producers: Dave Okumu, Kid Harpoon
Writers: J. Ware, K. Harpoon
Publisher: Universal Publishing
U.K. breakout Jessie Ware first gained a tastemaker following earlier this year for tracks like “Running” and “110%” — love songs that channeled the British soul movement of the late ’80s and early ’90s. But for her lead U.S. single, “Wildest Moments,” Ware — along with producers Kid Harpoon and Dave Okumu (of Mercury Prize-nominated alt-rock act the Invisible) — channel the singer’s love of hip-hop producer Jeff Bhasker, placing hard-hitting drums on top of a track about the strength of friendship. “From the outside/Everyone’s always wondering why we fight/Why do we fight?” Ware sings, with husky ad-libs and piano sparks that should give Alicia Keys some serious pause as to what her next album should sound like. Though it’s likely to be many stateside listeners’ first exposure to Ware, “Wildest Moments” only hints at the surprises on her just-released debut album, “Devotion”.
Turn On the Lights (4:09)
Producer: Mike Will Made-It
Writers: N. Wilburn, M. Williams, M. Middlebrooks
Publishers: Nayvadius Maximus Music/Irving Music/Eardrummers Music Publishing (BMI), Sounds From Eardrummers (ASCAP)
Future’s latest zonked-out party jam from his “Pluto” album, “Turn On the Lights,” shimmers and swirls with seamless transitions from rap to singing and back again. The Atlanta native’s flow tumbles with ease over the tipsy instrumental and never falls into dull repetition, but he describes his girl with flimsy lines like, “She a hood girl/But she a good girl.” Future’s undeniable charisma and confidence make his vocals enchanting, but his rhyming skills remain basic and his singing is too dependent on Auto-Tune. The artist’s contentment with presenting an unfamiliar sound, without fully exploring it or developing his wordplay, is consistently disappointing. “Turn On the Lights” is more escapist nighttime fun from Future, but greatness takes more than just rapping and singing in a unique manner.
FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE
Producer: Joey Moi
Brian Kelley is from Florida and Tyler Hubbard is from Georgia, hence the duo’s name. For their debut single, which has recently made strides on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, the pair have released a song that brilliantly showcases their rich, airtight harmonies. The lyrics bring to mind lovesick emotions, and production-wise, “Cruise” recalls another Joey Moi effort, Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night.” Is the track light-hearted and fluffy? Of course. But the vocals and harmonies sizzle at a serious rate on “Cruise,” even when the sentiments are straightforward. Big Machine Label Group president/CEO Scott Borchetta thought enough of the pair to invite it aboard the Republic Nashville ship, so there should be plenty of high-profile material coming down the Florida Georgia Line.
That Wasn’t Me (3:42)
Producers: Trina Shoemaker, Brandi Carlile, the Twins
Writer: B. Carlile
Publisher: Southern Oracle Music (ASCAP), administered by WB Music
With the light piano that opens Brandi Carlile’s “That Wasn’t Me,” off her latest record “Bear Creek”, she signals a slight departure from her standard folk/country sensibilities. But Carlile sounds at ease as she almost conversationally delivers the lyrics, “Hang on, just hang on for a minute/I’ve got something to say.” The song builds in typical ballad fashion, as drums and acoustic guitars stack upon each other to lead up to the emotional chorus, but Carlile’s vocals lend the song a unique touch. Backed by gospel-like “ooh’s” in the chorus, the singer/songwriter lets the soulful capabilities of her voice shine, confidently carrying the song to its conclusion. Even when Carlile is showcasing her vocal chops on “That Wasn’t Me,” she doesn’t seem to be pushing too hard to impress-at this point in her career, she’s never sounded more comfortable.
Edited by Jason Lipshutz (singles)
CONTRIBUTORS: Jim Allen, RJ Cubarrubia, Chuck Dauphin, Gregory R. Gondek, Gary Graff, Andrew Hampp, Jason Lipshutz, Gail Mitchell, Chris Payne, Mikael WoodAll albums commercially available in the United States are eligible. Send album review copies to Mitchell Peters at Billboard, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90036 and singles review copies to Jason Lipshutz at Billboard, 770 Broadway, Seventh Floor, New York, NY 10003, or to the writers in the appropriate bureaus.