In the Cookie Jar
Summer is always prime time for new music and a brand new crop of tracks from RuPaul is the perfect beach time/pre-Tea Dance soundtrack. Queen of Queens merges some of Mama Ru’s recent hits with some great remixes, all conspiring to put a brand new spin on some tracks that are destined to be classics. The most recent track from the RuPaul’s Drag Race finale “Queens Everywhere” is featured right off the bat, with Ru herself on all of the vocals, showing that the woman who gave us “Call Me Mother” can still rapid fire deliver the lyrics with the best of them. “Super Queen” gets a guitar-inspired remix with the “Stockholm Mix” putting a fun new spin on the track as well.
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The true crowning achievements of the package are having legendary producer, songwriter, and remixer Gomi handling duties on some of Ru’s tracks. He tosses a fun and unique “Gomi Dub” onto “Call Me Mother” but still keeps the familiar flavor that so many of us love about the track. The most prominent and most eagerly anticipated track from “Queen of Queens” is the DJ Gomi Mix of “American” which, buzzed about for some time, finally gets its release here. Amping up the BPM on this one and sprinkling in a few Gomi effects on it, manage to layer the whole track gorgeously, making it perfect for summer dance floors everywhere! As a bonus, there are a capellas for both “Super Queen” and “Queens Everywhere” included on the album, which means we can expect other DJs to take their crack at some of RuPaul’s tracks and putting their own unique and fierce spin on them.
Pink can always be counted on for some kick ass summer anthem perfection, and while the songs on her latest album Hurts To Be Human are anthems in their own right, this is a much more introspective Pink that we are getting this time around. From the lush and yearning “Walk Me Home” being the first single, the Pink we are introduced to here is slightly more subdued, yet with our favorite riot girl firmly attached.
The package is chock full of Pink’s always stellar vocals featured prominently on tracks like the percussion filled “My Attic” and the torch anthem “Courage.” She partners up with electronic music group (direct from Roseland, New Jersey) Cash Cash on the dance floor banger “Can We Pretend,” which is a departure for Pink but fits her beautifully. Pink saves her most personal and the best material on Hurts To Be Human for two of the most personal tracks. “Love Me Anyway” finds Pink seemingly trying to find one thing that may torpedo a relationship with the man she’s in love with, with country crooner Chris Stapleton offering his signature raw and growling vocals, which compliment both Pink’s and the arrangement perfectly. “90 Days” features Pink partnered up with singer/songwriter Wrabel, both telling a possibly autobiographical story about a relationship that could be splintering from the inside out.
Pink and husband Carey Hart have been open about their marital issues and have even seen Hart appear in several videos documenting various periods of their relationship. While their relationship always can be counted on to provide emotion laden material for this artist, Pink has once more crafted an album of pop music gems for us each to relate to in our own way.
CARLY RAE JEPSEN
Carly Rae Jepsen is quickly becoming as synonymous with summer as a tea dance and rose. Since “Call Me Maybe” smashed the charts several years ago, every single she releases becomes an instant earworm. With her latest album Dedicated, the package is chock full of tracks that will keep us dancing throughout the summer. “Now That I’ve Found You” gained traction as the soundtrack for the trailer of the Season Three trailer for Netflix’s Queer Eye but it more than stands on its own. The percussion heavy “Want You In My Room” puts a bit of a tinge of 80’s flair on Jepsen, while “I’ll Be Your Girl” sounds like it could be on the soundtrack to our favorite teen flick! “Feels Right” adds in some piano driven melodies (along with Electric Guest) for a mid-tempo love song, while “Real Love” is a breathy and airy track of yearning for a summer romance.
The highlights of Dedicated where Jepsen shines the brightest is her high energy anthems that are almost always structured perfectly where the chorus comes in at what seems like the exact right moment. “Party For One” is one of those instantly infectious tracks. Collectively, Dedicated lets Jepsen stretch her creative and musical wings a bit while still giving her fans the summer music that we have come to expect from this pop dynamo.
Off the heels of his epic (and Tony-winning) run in Dear Evan Hansen, Ben Platt has delivered a lush and glorious package of songs on Sing To Me Instead, sure to please fans of his stage work as well as newer fans. Platt’s vocal abilities are something that would never be debated; he’s absolutely breathtaking. Tracks like the single “Bad Habit” & “Temporary Love” put Platt in a much more adult contemporary area, while numbers like “Hurt Me Once” and “New” show Platt much more grown up and willing to explore sounds and vocal stylings that his fans may be unfamiliar with. “Share Your Address” is a raucous tune, while “Run Away” is Platt at his most soaring best.
Sing To Me Instead has received a great deal of pre-press and many were wondering if the magic that Platt has created on stage would translate into the recording studio for an album of his own. The answer is a resounding yes. Sing To Me Instead is a stunner.
Madonna has inhabited every kind of incarnation from a cowgirl motif for Music to virginal bride for Like A Virgin to disco queen for Confessions On A Dance Floor, but it’s her latest metamorphosis that has her fans and detractors alike buzzing. Yes, Madame X has arrived, and according to Madonna she is many things but one thing is certain; the provocateur that Madonna has always been is a large part of both who Madame X is and what the album consists of. No, this is not Madonna at the disco, which many fans are begging for. This is a Madonna who stayed true to her own artistic integrity and crafted an album that represents her at this juncture of her career.
The lead single is the whispery “Medellin,” which has ample guest stars from the smoldering Colombian superstar Maluma, with a track named for the Colombian city of Medellin. The album itself is almost two truly different sides of Madonna, with one showcasing the artist that she has become in the sting-heavy “Crave” and Middle Eastern-influenced “Extreme Occident.” The other side of this Madonna showcases the rebellious renegade that we have always known her to be, one that has never been afraid of speaking up for the injustices that she sees. “God Control” showcases one of the most raw and heartbreaking videos this artist has ever released, with a nightclub shooting being the centerpiece of this very real and unfortunately necessary track. “I Rise” is a crowning achievement on this package, and is the torch song anthem that many of us have been wanting Madonna to release for so long. Sparking the movement at the Stonewall on New Years Eve, “I Rise” is a culmination of Madonna’s decades-long advocacy for the LGBT community and the video released along with it showcases both how far we have come and how far we have to go. Madame X is a bit of a departure, but it also shows why Madonna herself remains the gold standard.
Top Ten by Matt Bailer
- Jack Back aka David Guetta – (It Happens) Sometimes (David Penn Remix)
- EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL – Temperamental (DJ Spen & Karizma Remix)
- KIESZA – Take Me To Church (Yastreb Remix)
- ALPHABEAT – Shadows (Freemasons Remix)
- BOB SINCLAR ft. ROBBIE WILLIAMS – Electrico Romantico (Bob Sinclar & Rayven & Valexx Remix)
- NORTHBROOK – On A Train (Extended Mix)
- LIZZO FT. MISSY ELLIOTT – Tempo (Barry Harris Remix)
- BILLIE EILISH – Bad Guy (Barry Harris Remix)
- CREW OF ME&YOU – Come Out & Play
- KIDEKO – What Is It (Extended Mix)