Here are my favorite songs released in May 2020, the month we decided a pandemic was over because we just really super wanted it to be. While any news of America’s blind “reopening” scares me to no end, even I, the guy at the grocery store who still wears gloves, can support one thing opening up again – your car window. On your next drive, press play on this mix and crank the volume. Because the only thing that’s contagious about it are the hooks.
1. Pa Salieu – “Betty”
Spacious, dancehall-infused UK hip hop that shows how mesmerizing vocal syncopation can be.
2. Charli XCX – “Enemy”
Over some full-blown Cyndi Lauper slow-dance synth-pop, Charli XCX realizes the person she loves has the power to destroy her.
3. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist (ft. Rick Ross) – “Scottie Beam”
On the same week George Lloyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officers, Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs dropped this chillingly appropriate chorus: “The revolution is the genocide / Yeah, my execution might be televised.”
4. Moses Sumney – “Keeps Me Alive”
Here’s a falsetto that can dance in the rafters of a track like an acrobat.
5. Carly Rae Jepsen – “This Love Isn’t Crazy”
CRJ shared a whole album of B sides this month, and per usual, they’re catchier and sweeter and more emotionally authentic than most artists’ A sides.
6. Polo G – “Martin & Gina”
“I get this feeling in my stomach when you next to me.”
7. Kim Petras – “Malibu”
’80s Whitney Houston reverie pop that fills our need for party music like summertime comfort food.
8. Kamaiyah – “Go Crazy”
The last time I heard a rapper be this intoxicatingly melodic over a cookout-ready G-funk beat, Warren G was asking us to mount up.
9. Orville Peck – “No Glory in the West”
Everybody’s favorite Orbison-ian masked country singer is back, with another gorgeous, stripped-down showcase for his honeyed rumble of a voice.
10. Grave Digger – “Lions of the Sea”
Shamelessly catchy retro power metal about Scottish military history from a group of middle-aged German dudes? That’s my kind of escapism.
11. Nick Hakim – “Qadir”
Seven healing minutes of low-lit, slow-building, grief-stricken R&B.