Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean new music is on lockdown. Give these a listen if you’re recovering from Christmas music and/or year-end lists.
Madonna — “Ghosttown”
Following major leaks of her unfinished 13th album, Rebel Heart, last week, Madonna dropped six finished songs from the LP and formally announced its release date this March. Among these new songs, listeners find Madge trying exceptionally hard to stay current as far as pop production is concerned. Much of the time it feels a little disingenuous, even when she’s being “Real”; this is especially true of her Nicki Minaj x Diplo x SOPHIE collab, “Bitch I’m Madonna,” which borders on so bad it’s good (Nicki’s verse is unforgivable though). There is one song where this apparent trend-chasing works quite well: “Ghosttown.” The ballad embraces the post-Lorde barrage of semi-ambient electronic tracks with big choruses, and finds Madonna singing a universally vulnerable message about “your person,” whether it’s your significant other, your kids, or a friend. With its hard-hitting trio of organ, hand-claps, and minor tonality, the bridge slays me.
Jodeci feat. B.o.B — “Nobody Wins”
One of the 1990s’ most influential R&B groups, Jodeci, released a song speaking out against domestic violence as their first single in nearly 20 years. If that isn’t awesome in theory to you, the song itself should be. B.o.B wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice of rappers to lead this, but the vocals and production — smooth in the foreground, unsettling in the background — make “Nobody Wins” a must-listen.
iLoveMakonnen, Ezra Koenig, and Despot — “Down 4 So Long (Remix)”
Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig bragging about Shmoney Dancing with goth teens: an accurate portrait of Music Twitter in 2014.
All Dogs — “Georgia”
In this column a few weeks back, I highlighted a new Girlpool song off the second compilation from the feminist zine The Le Sigh. Now the compilation is out (on tape and via SoundCloud), and I have a new favorite song off it: All Dogs’ “Georgia.” If you’re a sucker for Swearin’, P.S. Eliot, Radiator Hospital, or any of the other Salinas Records bands that hit you with the one-two punch of pop hooks and mega feels, I’d recommend Columbus, Ohio’s All Dogs as one to watch in 2015.
The National’s x Bob’s Buskers — “Christmas Magic”
I know I said no holiday tunes, but you’re a Grinch if you don’t find The National’s second (second!) song for Bob’s Burgers‘ Bob’s Buskers series at least a little charming. Matt Berninger as an animated tree ornament isn’t quite as priceless as St. Vincent soundtracking Tina Belcher trying (and failing) to be a bad girl, but it’s still worth a watch and listen.