Cassidy’s Top Five Songs of the Week 4/18/16

Cassidy's Top Five Songs of the Week 4/18/16

Cassidy Reed, SPN Junior Editor-In-Chief

Welcome to a column dedicated to my weekly top five favorite songs. Hopefully you’ll find something that tickles your fancy and/or tickles your earholes. Either way, I’m just sharing content I find to be quality; there will be anything from new releases to old classics. Happy listening!      



p      “Ultralight Beam“- by the controversial Kanye West. “Ultralight Beam” opens with a four year old preaching gospel, and then goes into the organs, choir, and a very soulful show from Kanye and The Dream. In the song, West, in many ways, is only leading the choir, like a preacher would. In the song, he’s preaching about hope, love, and gratitude. The song reflects the rose-period of his life that he is currently in with his wife and latest child. The song makes allusions to the life of Saint Paul the Apostle, through parallels between his album The Life of Pablo and the life of Saint Paul. It only validates West’s belief in a benevolent God. Paul, who was Saul at the time, was traveling to Damascus to persecute Christians, when a light beam from Heaven blinded him. He remained blind for three days, and when his sight returned, he dedicated his life to God. Kanye himself tweeted “This album is actually a Gospel album”. Despite the huge “God-Ego” Kanye has managed to make himself somewhat infamous with, he has many times stated, that the only will he cares about is God’s. This album is nothing more than a love-letter to God and a celebration of his truth that he’s tapped into, with his creative process. With the track “Famous“, he is essentially saying that he would prefer to be done with fame because he has everything he needs without it and can go where he plans to without it; West is fed up with the rat-race, people labeling him based on whatever the latest “buzz” is, and how they both affect his creative Truth. The Life of Pablo is a declaration of maturity, executed in way that doesn’t come across as narcissistic.



h     “Summertime“- by the rough-around-the-edges-rapper, Vince Staples. Staples is known to not be the most polite performer, or person in general, and we love it. There’s an honesty to him that’s undeniable; he’s not the type to put on facades or say things just to please others. The track is about a woman he wanted to spend his life with, and she is frequently mentioned throughout the album Summertime ’06The album is a snapshot of a specific point in Staple’s life. The goal with the album was to take his 2006 summer experience and make it into a sound. What made this period, in particular, important enough to make an album about, was his love for this unnamed woman, the explosive spirit of youth, the pain associated with relationships falling apart, and the almost imminent results of it all. Like his personality, most of the tracks on Summertime ’06 are abrasive and aggressive, but “Summertime” is a softer song comparatively, showing his more vulnerable side. Vince Staples is a person with a very interesting perspective on life and a wisdom I find myself impressed by. Plan on seeing him shake up the music industry and changing it forever. If I was a betting person, I’d bet that Staples will find himself an icon, without any intention of arriving there.



imgres   “Retrograde“- by the intimidatingly talented James Blake. James Blake is an artist that not only has the ability to produce beautiful music, but his voice is something to be in awe of. The track “Retrograde”, on his sophomore album  Overgrown, is a ballad that has been stretched into a long, humming, build-up, that implores the girl he loves to go on and grow without him. He tells her that he’ll be waiting when she gets back. The song is about his girlfriend, Theresa Wayman, guitarist for Warpaint. Blake seems to be fond of deep, thumping bass, layering his vocals for harmonies, and sonic droning. His music typically has few lyrics, concentrating more on conveying feelings with inflections of his voice and music, rather than words. His music is such bearing of the soul. His music is invasive, in that he will make you feel whatever he is, despite your will. It fills you from the top of your head down to your toes, and there is no way of evading it.  James Blake is going places, but we’ve yet to see where his third album will take him.




l  “Strange Mercy“-by Dallas native and solo artist, Annie Clark, also known as, St. Vincent. Clark is currently in a romantic relationship, with model and actress Cara Delevingne, and when asked, during a Rolling Stone interview, if she was gay or straight, Clark said, “I don’t think about those words. I believe in gender fluidity and sexual fluidity. I don’t really identify as anything. [. . .] I think you can fall in love with anybody. I don’t have anything to hide but I’d rather the emphasis be on music.” Clark began her music career as member of the Polyphonic Spree and also toured with Sufjan StevensStrange Mercy, the album “Strange Mercy” is featured on, is Clark’s third album, and it has the tamest sound of all her albums, including her latest album, which is the self-titled, St. Vincent. Strange Mercy was named one of the 100 Best Albums of the Decade by Pitchfork Media. On this album, Clark doesn’t hold back on the guitar shredding; muted droning gives the album a surreal feeling, while the weight of her vocals brings you back to reality. Her imaginative guitar playing really brings this album to life and carries much of the burden of conveying her message. In 2013, Clark received the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for Performing ArtsSt. Vincent, released in February 2014, was received to critical acclaim, and several platforms put the album at the best of the year.  In December 2014, Clark received her first Grammy for “Best Alternative Music Album”, for St. Vincent. April 12 of 2016, it was announced that Clark will be making her directorial debut, in a horror film covering the subject of female anxieties.





r       “Love On the Brain“- by female, musical powerhouse and industry mogul, Rihanna. Rihanna is one of the best-selling artists of all time, and Rihanna is the youngest solo artist to earn fourteen number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, and was named the Digital Songs Artist of the 2000s decade and the top Hot 100 artist of the 2010s decade by Billboard. Among a great multitude of accolades, Rihanna has won eight Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards, 23 Billboard Music Awards, two BRIT Awards, and was awarded the inaugural Icon Award at the American Music Awards of 2013. Rihanna is no doubt a fashion icon and, she received the Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2014. Forbes ranked Rihanna the fourth most powerful celebrity of 2012, and was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World later that year. Rihanna’s latest album, Anti, is a much more personal approach to her music, and if anything, the album is reflective and considerate. Rihanna seems to be searching for something in herself; the album is the musical embodiment of someone looking themselves in the mirror and being honest about what they see–whether they like it or not. The track, “Love On the Brain”, has a doo-wop- inspired sound and is far from her typical style. She hits notes we have never heard her hit, with passion we welcome. The track is no doubt to be paired with its twin track, “Higher“, in which we hear Rihanna pour out her heart with no reserve. Rihanna has already managed the top, but it can be expected for her to break the ceiling.


ALBUM OF THE WEEK: The Life of Pablo