S+E Media Club 003: Top Hits of 2022 (So Far)

2022’s just begun, but there’s already been droves of new tracks from some of our favorite artists released, check out A&E Senior Staff Writer Sarah and A&E Editor Elias’ highlights below!

It’s crazy to think February is coming to a close — time feels like it’s slowed to a crawl while simultaneously flying by. Even so, there’s already been a ton of new music released (as well as announced), and we’ve compiled a list of our favorite picks for you to check out below.

Porn Acting* – Jean Dawson

Jean Dawson is back with the second single from his upcoming project, “Chaos Now.” The angsty guitar-laden track “Porn Acting*” comes just a few months after his first single, “Menthol.” Both tracks seem to indicate that Dawson is leaning further into the grungier aspects of his music on his upcoming project, with wailing guitars and the San Diego-born artist’s trademark distorted vocals. “Porn Acting*” sees Dawson assure the world that he is not to be messed with, singing “Boy don’t play me, put you on a t-shirt/Put you where your knees hurt, put you in the grave.” The braggadocious nature of Dawson’s lyrics are balanced out by a refreshingly self-aware cry: “I’m full of sh-t just like you.” Both “Menthol” and “Porn Acting*” are a departure from the artist’s glitched out breakout record “Pixel Bath,” but fans shouldn’t worry, as Dawson is perfectly at home amidst the chaos of these two new tracks. With a strummy ear-worm hook and a whole lot of attitude, “Porn Acting*” is sure to stick with you for a while.

-E

Freaky (RGB) – Yeek

Yeek gets downright sultry in his new single “Freaky (RGB).” Seductive, groovy, and soulful, “Freaky” is a testament to Yeek’s energetic sensibilities. Born Sebastian Carandang, Yeek is bedroom pop’s most promising breakout star. He epitomizes the D.I.Y. work mentality of Soundcloud rappers: he produced, wrote, and created an accompanying short film for his most recent album “Valencia.” His newest single “Freaky (RGB)” opens with an homage to the Y2K experience with lyrics such as “Meditation music on the PS2 is on/RGB remote control, I know what you want.” Indeed, “Freaky” is an exercise in nostalgia; from funk-reminiscent synths to timeless R&B romance lyrics, Yeek covers all his bases with high-energy and tenderness. If “Valencia” cemented Yeek’s status as an innovative R&B lyricist, then “Freaky” showcases his expertise in rhythm and groove.

-S

SAOKO – Rosalía

Rosalía arrived on the scene with the debut of her sophomore album “El Mal Querer,” a record that blended traditional flamenco instrumentation and vocalization with contemporary pop in a way no one had ever thought possible before. It’s been four years since “El Mal Querer’s” release, and just as speculation of a new project was gaining momentum online, Rosalía has announced her new project “Motomami” with the release of the single “SAOKO” (named after the song of the same name by reggaeton legends Daddy Yankee and Wisin). The track is a shot of adrenaline, the pounding reggaeton-inspired instrumentation boasting industrial tinges reminiscent of Rosalías close friend and collaborator, Arca. The Spanish singer even name drops one of pop music’s biggest recluses (and a rumored guest star on the upcoming project), Frank Ocean, singing “Frank me dice que abra el mundo como una nue’.” The track’s lyrical motif is change, transformation, something which Rosalía seems to have taken to heart on this new project as she embraces new sounds and takes new risks. “Motomami” releases on March 22, and “SAOKO” indicates that it’ll be an album worth looking out for.

-E

Chocolate Hills – Khruangbin & Leon Bridges

Like Yeek’s “Freaky (RBG),” “Chocolate Hills” is nostalgia music, but of an entirely different sort. Leon Bridges channels Al Green’s smooth and sexy vocal energy, while Khruangbin imbues the track with their characteristic 1960s soulfulness. What at first seems like an odd pairing — the Houston based musical trio is best known for their forays into psychedelic pop, while Leon Bridges is a well established soul singer — Khruangbin and Leon Bridges’ collaboration just makes sense.  The two styles complement each other well: where Bridges is retro and melodic, Khruangbin is experimental and subversive. In a music industry saturated with overproduced pop songs and algorithmically inclined one-liners, Khruangbin and Bridges’ music stands in stark defiance. “Chocolate Hills” is both innovative and derived, familiar, yet entirely new.

-S

bbycakes – Mura Masa (Ft. Lil Uzi Vert, Shygirl, and Pink Pantheress)

The mastermind beat-maker behind the A$AP Rocky-led “Love$ick” is back with another banger off his upcoming album “Soundtrack to a Death, Part 2.” The chipper track features sped up chipmunk-like vocals from both Shygirl and Pink Pantheress, two of the year’s biggest hyperpop acts, as well as a verse from rapper Lil Uzi Vert. The bouncy beat of the tune is juxtaposed with Uzi and Pink Pantheress’ confessions of infidelity, an approach that makes the tune as sad as it is fun. The matter-of-fact nature with which Pink Pantheress delivers her devastating truths (“I know I messed up when I was seeing your best friend,” “So I called you here to tell you I’m with someone you know/And if I said that I loved you, I lied”) reflects the cheerful apathy of the songs’ protagonists; and even knowing how awful what they’re saying is, you won’t be able to stop yourself from bobbing your head, bouncing your knee, or tapping your hand to the beat of this tune.

-E

Ginger Pubes – Bakar

Bakar’s anger is resounding in “Ginger Pubes”: “I keep fuckin’ it up” he repeatedly sing-yells in the first verse of the song. The track, with its hard-hitting drums and phlegmy hollered refrains, is a classic punk tune. While Bakar carries strong punk influences in his newest album “Nobody’s Home,” his music is anything but derivative. Bakar seems to have eclipsed genre in his perfect melding of pop and alternative rock, testing the boundaries of any one musical style. Born in north London, Bakar’s music is a reflection of his experiences as an immigrant and avid fan of British music — Amy Winehouse is among the many artists from which Bakar gains inspiration. Through innovation and a keen sense for genre-mashing, Bakar carves up a slice of the music scene all for himself.

-S

Image courtesy of i-D Magazine.

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