Lizzo ~ “If You Love Me”
Somehow, Lizzo gets no credit for wearing her heart tattooed on her sleeveless shoulder. For birthing this song into the world, she deserves whatever her heart truly desires. “If You Love Me”, an old-school style Soul ballad, turns frustration into self-confidence. It would seduce Classic Soul singers into a bidding war to record it, had it existed 30 or even 40 years ago. Lizzo and her team of song crafters bring their many-faceted talents for co-producing ear candy to transform a deep pain. Despite its throwback quality, what makes it special is that the results don’t evoke nostalgia — a very good, even magical, result. How do they accomplish this seeming sleight of hand? No need for any trick “authenticity”: Lizzo’s performance persona draws very close to the real Lizzo. However she enhances it for the sake of projecting an image, or dresses it up or dances around it, it’s the unadorned, real, emotional, human Lizzo that comes through it all, not just on “If You Love Me,” but also throughout her Special album.
Let’s call the next four tracks of this week’s playlist Gone Out Dancing:
SILVY ~ “We Are Beautiful”
Sometimes all that some familiar sounding lyrics need to freshen them up is a young attitude and a new perspective to hang them on. Perhaps also a non-American perspective? Try this, from a Thai pop star:
“Bangkok is the place to be / Got no rules / And I’m feeling right / I’m gonna rule tonight”.
Innocuous lyrics from another U.S. “rebel”, but they strike me as more rebellious coming from Thailand. While that thought tickles your brain, give in to the powerful, Classic Booty-Shaking Groovaliciousness of “We Are Beautiful”.
GRiZ ~ “Feel No Pain”
Ever wanted to be transported to the dance floor of another time and place? Classic 70s Reggae Dance Hall hasn’t had a revival moment in the US — but it never released its hold on dedicated fans. This electronic Reggae mashup sounds so good, it deserves to spark one. The “Feel No Pain” hook is a Bob Marley quote adjusted into a strictly iambic catchphrase — “One thing ‘bout music / when it hit you feel no pain” — which pumps the beat up to a gritty swagger that never lets go.
Want more? Build an entire party soundtrack out of Rainbow Brain, GRiZ’s 2021 album, which has the funkiest, can’t-stop-dancing flow of any set in years.
Coco Nicole, Ocean Kelly ~ “Theme Song”
If ever I do a dance music radio or streaming show, this is my theme song.
If this doesn’t get you dancing — or at least bouncing — to an unfamiliar song, please return to your table to complain to the fellow holdouts about how the music is too loud.
Eddie The Kidd, Bentley Robles ~ “Body Language”
Hip-swaying “mexicano” sounds via Texan Eddie and New Yorker Bentley.
“Don’t know how but I can tell / you taste as good as you look.”
Succinctly: More body language, gentlemen. Please!
The next five tracks, you might say, come under the heading Gone Out Drinking:
Rackley ~ “Famous Nobodies”
A fun, swaggering tribute to your crew, the friends who come out to the clubs to play with you. Picking up the squad on the fly, shamelessly carefree, and surprisingly banjo driven, I wish “Famous Nobodies” — like the next two songs on this list — would gather steam and become pop hits. (And if ungranted wishes were dollars I’d be a multi-millionaire.)
Hayden Joseph – “Dog Beers”
Joseph carries Country music’s tradition for lubricant-fueled, play-on-words philosophizing gaily forward. His delightful wordplay, a groaner that should make more-experienced songwriters jealous for not thinking of it themselves, could teach an old dog new tricks. I won’t spoil it. You’ll have to hear it for yourself.
Lily Rose – “In My Drinks”
“In My Drinks” is another example of not taking indie musicians’ remarkably layered, well-balanced pop productions for granted. With her new broken heart stuck in the same old place, on the same old barstool, Rose isn’t “drinking to forget her”, she’s “drinking to remember / ‘Cause I only see her In My Drinks.” If that image doesn’t become indelible to you before the song ends, maybe you have had one too many.
Lizzo ~ “Everybody’s Gay” isn’t about being gay. But it really is. Well, I mean, someone needs to lead us to reclaim the “light, happy, joyful” meaning of “gay”! It may as well be Lizzo. Lets take back happy-gay without relinquishing Queer Gay! It’s about time we no longer accept how society dropped happy-gay immediately after Gay Pride claimed it.
Meanwhile, back in the groove, here’s that throwback-without-nostalgia thing again. The blend of borrowings offsets taking any one trip to the Old School. A Quincy Jones / Michael Jackson tribute-perfect balance of rhythm and vocal elements don’t stop ‘til you get enough of the Nile Rodgers-like lanky, good-times rhythm guitar and the Earth, Wind & Fiery horns. Finish this three and a half minute recap of Lizzo’s perfect night out with a hot guitar solo and Lizzo growling “Pur, Bitch!”
All that’s left is the afterparty. Oh, who, you say, has directions to one? Remember Jones?
Remember Jones ~ “pour one out”
The song that ends HAHA, BITCH!, Remember Jones’ new album full of New Jersey flavor (including disco fries — yes: not kidding) sends the party on their not-entirely-sober way from the show to the after-show festivities. As they say, “You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.” But before you go, “We gotta pour one out. / We only got one life. / Ain’t wasting no more time.” Personally, wherever I’m headed, I’d turn HAHA, BITCH! on to play again from the top, and loop-to-repeat until dawn.