Last weekly Spotify includes rap, alternative pop


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By Northern Star Staff

For the last weekly Spotify of the 2022-23 academic year, the Northern Star staff wrote about three songs they love.

Sarah’s picks

  1. Baby Keem – “naked freestyle”
  2. Pitbull, Ne-Yo – “Time of Our Lives”
  3. The Weeknd – “Party Monster”

“Naked freestyle” is my favorite song off Baby Keem’s 2022 album “The Melodic Blue.” The song begins with the audio “He hasn’t slept in probably, uh, seven days” which is taken from a high school football pre-game interview. The song’s consistent trombone tempo is what makes it stand out, as the trap beats are repeated over and over again in the background. Keem’s rapping feels almost freestyle, making it sound so effortless and addictive. The chorus lyrics, “Yeah, these hoes might get naked / Mad at myself, I ain’t make it / Baby Keem way too impatient” are easy to recite from memory after a few listens. 

Pitbull is known for all his banger songs, and “Time of Our Lives” is no different. Released in 2014, the song sticks in my memory as a car song, meaning it’s a song that’s heard best when it’s blasted on full volume in a car. “Time of Our Lives” is essentially about having a good, worry-free time in a club. It’s a party song through and through, and the best time to listen to this is when the work week is over. Pitbull collaborated with Ne-Yo, who adds to the energy of the song. Both artists are going to make the most of their night out and enjoy it as much as they can. 

Abel Tesfaye, more popularly known as The Weeknd, released “Party Monster” in 2016 as part of his best album “Starboy.” This song is a party song where he talks about his party addiction and his need to be with a woman. Lyrics like “I’m good, I’m good, I’m great / Know it’s been a while, now I’m mixin’ up the drank / I just need a girl who gon’ really understand,” imply that he needs a night out away from something that is stressing him out. He’s asking for a girl that understands his need for a one night stand and ensures the listener that he’s fine with it. “Party Monster” also includes vocals from Lana Del Rey towards the end. The two artists blend their voices as they sing the word “paranoid” over and over again, creating a dark, beautiful sound.  

Eli’s picks

  1. Warren Zevon – “Desperados Under the Eaves”
  2. Billy Joel – “Allentown”
  3. Emperor X – “€30,000”

Far more than just the guy who screamed “Ah-woo” on everyone’s favorite werewolf themed song “Werewolves of London,” Warren Zevon was one of the most talented and criminally underrated songwriters of his generation. “Desperados Under the Eaves,” the closing track from his self-titled album, is a confessional meditation on alcoholism and the consequences of a self-destructive lifestyle. The lyrics, “Still waking up in the mornings with shaking hands / And I’m trying to find a girl who understands me / But except in dreams you’re never really free,” highlight the narrator’s sense of self-awareness, but at the same time an unwillingness to change the lifestyle that is clearly tearing him apart.

Billy Joel’s “Allentown,” which earned him a key to the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania, from the mayor, explores the consequences of industrial decline in a historically blue collar community. Billy Joel might not have the same “cool guy” image as his contemporaries like Zevon or Bruce Springsteen do, but you have to give him credit as a pop musician. He wrote a song about the steel manufacturing industry in 1982, the same year that songs like “Eye of the Tiger” and “Ebony and Ivory” were taking the world by storm. The subjects of Joel’s songs are often so ultra-specific that you just can’t help but become completely engrossed by the stories he tells.

In 2014, underground lo-fi musician Chad Matheny, known as Emperor X, was diagnosed with testicular cancer while living in Germany. Three years later, after making an unexpected full recovery, he released the song “€30,000” which chronicled his experiences as a foreigner dealing with the German healthcare system. Featuring vivid, bluntly honest lyrics like, “I killed a hundred million cells of embryonal carcinoma / With the love that caused my middle-age heart to burst,” Matheny recounts his difficult experiences through the lens of his offbeat, unique worldview.

Daija’s picks

  1. Metro Boomin, Young Thug – “Metro Spider (with Young Thug)”
  2. Gracie Abrams – “I know it won’t work – Live”
  3. quinnie – “man”

“Metro Spider” is a collaboration between producer Metro Boomin and rapper Young Thug off Metro Boomin’s 2022 release “HEROES & VILLAINS.” The song title is a combination of the two artist’s nicknames – Metro Boomin and King Spider. Over the course of the song, Young Thug proceeds to brag about his lavish lifestyle, from the fashion brands he wears being richer than his brothers and how many women he sleeps with. The latter half of the second verse is arguably the best part of the song as Young Thug ends every sentence with “there” and the repetition is very pleasing to hear. 

Gracie Abrams released her debut album “Good Riddance” in February which includes the second track “I know it won’t work.” The live version of the song was released last month and is a recording of Abram’s live performance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Abrams sings about wanting someone back who treated her poorly but knowing deep down they’re not the person for her and that the relationship won’t end up working. The live version of “I know it won’t work” really showcases Abrams’ raspy, raw vocals that fit the emotions of the song. 

“man” is the opening track on quinnie’s debut album “flounder” which also includes the hit song “touch tank.” quinnie recounts a previous relationship where the man was manipulative and she fell for his “soft boy scam,” but in the end, she realizes that “no amount of nail polish could paint you a good man.” The song starts off with a simple piano and guitar ballad but slowly increases to a faster tempo which could represent quinnie’s anger when she learns her partner’s manipulative ways. 

Angelina’s picks

  1. Phoebe Bridgers – “Funeral” 
  2. Tyler Childers – “Feathered Indians”  
  3. Ed Sheeran – “Sycamore”

“Funeral” by singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers explores the depths of an individual with depression. The lyrics are from the point of view of a woman about to attend the funeral of someone her own age, and she feels truly heartbroken for the family. She also admits that she is feeling a strong sense of depression and doesn’t know if she will ever be rid of the sadness, but feels guilty for feeling this way, stating, “feeling sorry for myself / When I remembered someone’s kid is dead.” 

Country singer Tyler Childers is proving that country music today doesn’t need to have elements of pop music to be well-loved. His song “Feathered Indians” tells the story of a passionate moment between two lovers. The girl doesn’t quite approve of his lifestyle and encourages him to give up his bad habits. There is a moment when she asks him if he knows that smoking is bad for you to which he replies, “up till now, there ain’t been nothing / That I couldn’t leave behind.” Unfortunately, the end of the song explains that the relationship ended up not working out. Childer’s raspy voice throughout the song along with the acoustic guitar, a fiddle, mandolin and pedal steel make for a perfect country song.

Ed Sheeran recently released his final album in his mathematical sequence of albums, “Subtract.” The album is inspired by fatherhood, the death of his best friend Jamal Edwards and his wife’s cancer diagnosis. Sheeran’s wife was diagnosed with cancer while she was five months pregnant with their second child. The couple has kept the details to themselves, but the song “Sycamore” can be interpreted to be influenced by the feelings he had when they were told the terrible news and the thought process surrounding the situation. 

“Right now in the waiting room, emotions running wild / Worried ’bout my lover and I’m worried ’bout our child / And part of me was always in denial, it’s gonna take a little while,” the artist sings. A sycamore tree is a symbol of strengths and protection which is illustrated through the chorus of the song that alludes to a sense of hope, a sense of no matter what happens “we’ve got this.” After hearing devastating news, it can be hard to keep going and find your bearings; but again, the chorus is a reminder that no matter what people can persevere. Sheeran ends the song with the question we all would have when we are told news that we don’t want to her, “What will become of you and me?”

Zach’s picks

  1. The Notorious B.I.G. – “Big Poppa”
  2. Warren G, Nate Dogg – “Regulate”
  3. Michael Jackson – “Rock With You”

“Big Poppa” was the second single released for Biggie’s 1994 album “Ready to Die.” The song peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1995. Throughout the song, Biggie refers to himself as “Big Poppa” and brags about his rich and enviable lifestyle. Biggie is also trying to convince a woman to come home with him, while showing that he is superior to the other men. I love the instrumental on the song and like to listen to it in the car. I also love Biggie’s slow and smooth flow over the catchy beat.

“Regulate” is a collaboration between Warren G and Nate Dogg for Warren G’s 1994 album “Regulate.” I love this song because Warren G’s production of the instrumental and Nate Dogg’s voice compliment one another perfectly. The song is about an attempted car-jacking in Los Angeles. The song hooks me instantly from the first line, “It was a clear black night, a clear white moon.” The first line sets the tone for the whole song as a very smooth and laid-back track. 

“Rock With You” was the second single released off of Michael Jackson’s 1979 album “Off The Wall.” The song was one of the last disco hits of the 1970’s and peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1980. Throughout the song, Jackson sings about dancing with a girl at a club and letting the music take over their bodies. My favorite part of the song is the trumpets in the background while Jackson is singing. I love to listen to this song because it always puts me in a good mood.