This week brings strong dance cuts from Mary J. Blige’s Disclosure collaboration and Giorgio Moroder’s first new studio album in decades, plus rising rookie Tobias Jesso Jr., Tink, 1D, and Mark Ronson with Bruno Mars.
Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars — “Uptown Funk”
James Brown’s “Living in America” x the Ghostbusters theme x Prince circa Purple Rain x The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” = “Uptown Funk.” When it’s done this infectiously, I can barely bring myself to care that it’s all recycled hits. Also, please turn “MAKE A DRAGON WANNA RETIRE” into your catchphrase, Bruno Mars.
Mary J. Blige and Disclosure — “Follow”
Mary J. Blige’s team-up with Disclosure might just prove to be the most forward-thinking career move the R&B diva’s made in the last decade. “Follow,” off Blige’s London Sessions LP (out 11/24), uses a similar beat as Disclosure’s “Grab Her,” but Mary’s vocals escalate it to a next-level dance floor burner.
Tobias Jesso Jr. — “Hollywood”
Tobias Jesso Jr. is this sweet, goofy Canadian dude whose simple yet expressive piano songs remind me a little of early Randy Newman. This is very much a compliment in my world. Up until this point, he’s only released demos and singles via a flexi-disc 7-inch series on the True Panther label. The studio version of “Hollywood” arrived this week, and it’s stunning in its singularity. This is a story about aiming for, and ultimately fearing, your own dreams. Tobias tells it with his piano, his voice, and an unruly cacophony of brass instruments. The two elements combined hit me hard between the lungs.
Giorgio Moroder — “74 Is The New 24”
How can you not kinda root for Giorgio Moroder? Not only has the disco pioneer made a major career comeback (thanks, Daft Punk), he hasn’t just coasted by on his past achievements. This coming spring, he’ll release his first new album in decades, complete with guest appearances from Britney Spears, Charli XCX, Sia, Kylie Minogue, Mikky Ekko, and more. “74 Is The New 24” is the first taste of this LP, and though its themes are a touch novelty, the beat is for real. Over-the-top electronic music with distinct guitar tones is a difficult thing to pull off (unless you’re Nile Rodgers), and it’s precisely what makes “74 Is The New 24” stand out.
Tink — “Around The Clock” (feat. Charlamagne Tha God)
Timbaland said that Chicago rapper/vocalist Tink’s debut is probably one of the best albums he has produced since Aaliyah’s One in a Million. With this wordplay, I’m starting to understand why.
One Direction — “Clouds”
Phoenix would have been lucky to have this on their last album. (Sidenote: that new 1D album is preeeeeetty solid.)