Paramore | “Hard Times”
The current worship of ’80s pop culture continues with Paramore’s tropical-flavored comeback single from the band’s new record, After Laughter. It’s an understated ear-worm (with fitting lyrics like “Where do I go?/ Gimme some sort of sign/ Hit me with lightning!/ Maybe I’ll come alive”), and doesn’t reach for the cheap seats like “Ain’t It Fun” or “Misery Business”. Still, “Hard Times” shows that even when Hayley Williams follows a trend, she makes it her own.
Papa Roach | “American Dreams”
Yup, they’re still a thing and they’ve decided to bring back the quasi-rapping of Jacoby Shaddix, which is as awkward as ever. The same goes for his sort of indictment of the reality of the American Dream by today’s standards. The chorus, though, plays to their strengths by being almost cynically anthemic. Judged by Papa Roach standards (which is how it should be), this ain’t terrible.
Big Boi feat. Killer Mike and Jeezy | “Kill Jill”
Big Boi returns with a Japanese-flavored, Hatsune Miku-sampling beat and one of the best rappers alive having a fucking blast on the mic. Hearing these two chew through scenery with absurd braggadocio is a joy the world needs more of right now.
Big Boi feat. Adam Levine | “Mic Jack”
A Big Boi song made to make you dance featuring Adam Levine, huh? OK, sure. “Mic Jack” features more of Big Boi’s (practically trademark) lecherousness, something that (sadly) seems inexhaustible at this point. Meanwhile, Levine phones in a sorta-catchy chorus with embarassing lyrics. It’s a lotta fluff, honestly, and it’s kinda fun. Eh, whatever.
DJ Shadow feat. Nas | “Systematic”
Shadow’s collaboration with Run the Jewels last year was fantastic, and he’s done it again here with Nas. He has an inate gift for coaxing out great performances from rappers. The nervous, twitchy beat bounces around with immediacy, while Nas raps like he still has something to prove. We could have one new song between Shadow and a rapper once per year and I’d have no problem with that.