PRINT December 2015


Jon Caramanica

Future, 2015.

1 FUTURE (WITH DRAKE), “LIVE FROM THE GUTTER,” 0:54 It’s not clear what caused the rift that ended Future and Ciara’s relationship, but it’s given Future ample fodder for his narcotic, emotional growls and mumbles. Here, after rapping about being left, then about how relieved he was to be left, he lets out a scratchy yelp—part anguished scream, part sinister cackle, part ecstatic release.

2 LANA DEL REY, “ SALVATORE,” 4:21 This song comes on like a Peter Max version of an Antonioni sound track, ridiculous and coy—right up until the end, when Lana sighs “soft ice cream” and you feel the sublime melt.

3 MITSKI, “DRUNK WALK HOME,” 0:33 Relationships are about things you share—sex, warmth, intimacy—but also the power one person holds over another. Mitski’s not having that, screaming, “fuck you and your money,” and casting off her chains.

4 KEITH APE, “IT G MA,” 0:31 “Orca ninjas go Rambo,” he barks, and it makes perfect sense in this Korean fun-house-mirror version of Atlanta turn-up trap music.

5 THE WEEKND, “IN THE NIGHT,” 2:47 At his most Jacksonian here, the Weeknd updates the King of Pop’s tragic characters for the strip-club era: “Dollar bills and tears keep falling down her face.” When he jumps up high to hit “tears,” it’s a precise shriek, triumphant and euphoric.

Still from Keith Ape’s 2015 video It G Ma, directed by Keith Ape, Jan’Qui, and Art Dealer. JayAllDay and Keith Ape.

6 JHENÉ AIKO (OMARION, FEATURING AIKO AND CHRIS BROWN), “POST TO BE,” 2:14 “I might let your boy chauffeur me / But he gotta eat the booty like groceries”—a flirty wink, a sweet shrug, an assertion of feminine authority, an encapsulation of the zeitgeist.

7 WAXAHATCHEE, “UNDER A ROCK,” 0:02 Katie Crutchfield opens this song with a jolting “mayyy-beeeee,” and though the following phrase is “you got your head caught in a ditch last night,” it’s clear she’s not even a little bit sympathetic.

8 JOHN MORELAND, “YOU DON’T CARE FOR ME ENOUGH TO CRY,” 1:27 Moreland sings “I’m the kind of love that hurts to look at” in a desiccated voice—the sound of sleeping rough through a rainstorm, the sound of muscle rendered slack by drugs. There’s death on his breath.

9 SLIM JXMMI (RAE SREMMURD), “THROW SUM MO,” 0:54 Kids—they grow up so fast these days. What better distillation of exuberant new-money foolishness than Slim Jxmmi exulting, in his prepubescent squeal, “I’m ’bout to empty out the ATM!”

10 CHRIS YOUNG, “I’M COMIN’ OVER,” 2:06 One minute he’s telling you he’s running every red light to get to you, then the next he’s singing “to hell with the closure” like “tohellwiththeclosure,” because who has time to breathe?

Jon Caramanica is a pop-music critic for the New York Times. He has selected notable vocals—spoken or sung utterances—from songs released this year.