Scene Selections: New singles
“Only Wanna Be With You (Pokémon 25 Version)” — Post Malone
By Ryan Israel, Scene Editor
The context surrounding this song is baffling, to say the least. For the 25th anniversary of a Japanese video game turned dominant media franchise (Pokémon), a former rapper, current superstar singer (Post Malone) covers the hit song (“Only Wanna Be With You”) of a quintessential ‘90s college rock band (Hootie & The Blowfish). It makes total sense, right?
Outrageous circumstances aside, Post Malone’s cover isn’t half bad. The song plays to his strengths, letting him stretch out his vocals over the guitar-heavy chorus. While he doesn’t reach the deep register of Darius Rucker, he holds his own. The song’s biggest flaw is its forced inclusion of sound effects from the Pokémon games; the digital bleep-bloops and keys crowd the instrumental and leave the song feeling overproduced.
Perhaps the best part of Post Malone’s cover is the potential it signals for his upcoming work. He’s finding inspiration in rock music past — early in quarantine, he did an awesome performance covering the music of Nirvana — and leaning into the guitar. A true Post Malone rock album may not be on the horizon, but maybe we can get an “MTV Unplugged” performance. I can only hope.
“Rainforest” — Noname
By Aidan O’Malley, Scene Writer
“Noname” is an unfortunately apt title for one of the best artists currently in the rap game — far too few people are familiar with her work. You might have heard the Chicago-born rapper’s features on various songs by Chance the Rapper — “Lost” off of “Acid Rap,” for instance, or my personal favorite, “Drown” off of “Coloring Book.” In the intervening years, Noname has established an outstanding career of her own, and — no offense to Chance — has eclipsed him two or three times over.
“Rainforest” is the lead single off Noname’s forthcoming third record, “Factory Baby,” which is due at some point this year. Produced by The Kount with featured vocals by Adam Ness, it is, as Rolling Stone so aptly described it, “revolutionary music you can dance to.” Noname isn’t quiet about her socialist influences; on “Rainforest,” she weaves together a rich tapestry of political and philosophical ideas ranging from the ills of capitalism to the destruction of the natural world, as well as how those issues compound one another if you’re Black. Noname isn’t a lyricist so much as she is a poet, and after you give “Rainforest” a listen — which you must — you’ll want to dive into its Genius page and linger over each and every line.
Also, stream her first two records, “Telefone” and “Room 25.”
“Leave the Door Open” — Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic
By Jake Winningham, Associate Scene Editor
Bruno Mars has burnished his best-wedding-band-ever vibe on the backs of singles aimed at updating the most popular sounds of decades past: “Locked out of Heaven” quoted from the Police just as much as “Uptown Funk” (perhaps illicitly) parroted the Gap Band. His new single, “Leave The Door Open” — released as a part of the Anderson .Paak collaboration Silk Sound — is the latest track in this lineage, fitting into a 70s-influenced sweet spot that owes as much to Billy Paul as it does Bobby Charles. .Paak and Mars trade lines over a tight full-band arrangement, albeit one that never quite flourishes into the same Isley Brothers-meet-Morris Day vibe that marks Mars’ finest work.
“Spinning” — No Rome (with The 1975 and Charli XCX)
By Dessi Gomez, Scene Writer
“Spinning” lives up to its name with a chaotic cacophony of sound. This great collaboration between No Rome, The 1975 and Charli XCX is an ideal release for springtime, when we start to get that taste of summer and good weather. The song’s upbeat dance mix will cheer you up when the permacloud inevitably returns in late March or April. I currently relate to the song as a second semester senior trying to figure out post-grad life while also doing my best to enjoy my time left on campus. I will play this song in those moments of bliss that go by in a blur because before I know it, I will be graduating and wishing I had enjoyed these moments more.
This song also gives me hope for a picture that Matty Healy of The 1975 put on his Instagram story last week featuring up and coming artist Holly Humberstone.