Pop music is infectious. Don’t get bogged down by anyone who says it’s too generic for their taste. The sounds are constantly evolving, though most pop songs these days still manage to have those catchy choruses you seem to hum at random moments (looking at you, K-Pop!) Right now, I’m enjoying the added twists that European artists are adding to the mainstream. If you’re feeling bored with the American pop scene or just need some fresh sounds to your playlist, here’s five artists from across the pond you absolutely need to know better.
1. Charli XCX
Charli is sort of a big name already – remember that big hit a few years ago with Icona Pop called “I Love It” or her feature on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy?” Or how she recruited pieces of Hollywood’s eye candies for her “Boys” music video last summer? Charli has established herself as a major songwriter and collaborator since her early hazy electropop days, and now she seems to drop the best pop bangers whenever she feels like it. She’s all about starting the party and having a good time.
It’s pronounced exactly how you see it and is a play on his surname, Emenike. Along with his chart-topping duet with Zara Larsson, “Never Forget You,” MNEK has written for some of the most buzzed about names in pop including Dua Lipa, Kylie Minogue and the queen herself, Beyoncé! His debut solo album just dropped full of infectious dancehall R&B that includes his own writing and production credits. Try not to pull a muscle dancing from song after song!
French performer Héloïse Letissier sings and dances under the name Christine and the Queens. Along with her personal dance crew, you’ll find Letissier grooving to the style of theatrical inspired visuals in their performances. In 2016, she had the biggest selling debut album in the United Kingdom. With her recent release, Chris, she embraces an edgy alter ego under the same name. Her catalog of music holds a range of funky pop songs about gender roles and embracing sexuality.
Scotland-born but Los Angeles-based producer Sophie has crafted experimental pop collaborations with Charli XCX, Vince Staples and Madonna. Her small presence on social media and rare interviews may seem mysterious, but she doesn’t consider herself to be anonymous. In an interview with Teen Vogue, she stated she’s always been honest in the work she puts out. That honesty shone through last October in her video for “It’s Okay To Cry” when for the first time, she performed her own vocals and showed her face on-camera. For many viewers, it also helped us realize Sophie’s identity as a transgender pop star.
If you’re a fan of the hot house-pop and Afrobeats sound today, you’ll love Raye. Atop these sizzling beats lie her air light vocals crooning lyrics that have been described as confident yet vulnerable. Raye’s success has shown through in reaching No. 3 in the U.K. charts last year and features on two Top 20 charting songs in 2016. Plus, she’s collaborated with Charli XCX twice, so that should give you an idea of how fun her music is!
This week we’re catching up on everything – all the crazy news that happened over the break, what’s new in our hosts’ lives, and meeting our brand new host, Donya. From Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, to Laila’s exciting announcement, no subject is off limits in this episode.
Hip-hop is a movement of resistance, so it’s no surprise that feminism has found its rightful place within the art form. But too often are conversations surrounding hip-hop dominated by men and focused on masculinity. People often hold the perception that hip-hop is inherently misogynistic, but contrary to popular belief, there are women in the game that are shaking up the status quo and embracing the idea that hip-hop is a space for powerful female artists.
The U.N.I.T.Y. Feminist Hip-hop Mix is taking inspiration from the notorious and unapologetic feminist Queen Latifah anthem and is asserting that women are multifaceted and powerful. These tracks are embracing femininity, body positivity, heritage, sexuality and self-love, and are reminding us that women are dynamic in all layers of their identities.
Check out these hip-hop anthems that challenge the idea that hip-hop can’t be inherently feminist and empowering:
This track is all about reclaiming “girl power” and is reminding folks that women keep persevering and coming out as champions at the end. Leikeli47 is giving the world a not-so-gentle reminder “that we run the atmosphere.”
This song is the ultimate reminder that you are valuable, enough, and don’t deserve to be undercut by anyone. Just remember to respect yourself and take nothing less from others. As Lauryn Hill puts it: “Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem. Baby girl, respect is just a minimum.”
This Queen Latifah track is the ultimate feminist hip-hop anthem, notoriously calling out street harassment, domestic violence, and being called a “bitch” or a “ho.” U.N.I.T.Y. is all about empowerment, solidarity and respect, because we know we’re not standing one second for misogyny.
In this day and age being an immigrant is a controversial label to hold. With all the stigma and hate attached to this, I think people forget that immigrant solely means ” A person who comes to live in a foreign country”.
Most of what is portrayed on mainstream media is negative; we are being taught to fear and that fear so easily turns into hate. With all of this clouding our brains, we often forget that it isn’t easy to just move your entire life from one Country to another. Music has a great history of educating, protesting and speaking out, this couldn’t be truer for this playlist.
Want to listen to some great music that speaks about something meaningful? I mean you’re welcome to go back to Drake if this doesn’t do anything for you. But for those of you that are sick and tired of all the hate, ignorance and fear – watch these incredible artists break down stereotypes and fight back against the prejudice.
Fighting back against xenophobia and racism, this song tackles the issues that immigrants face through multiple perspectives and is incredibly eye-opening. I love the how this single features an ensemble of incredible artists who unapologetically bring their own story to this discussion.
This killer tune is the type to get stuck in your head for days, not that I’m complaining. Anything by M.I.A is incredible, she is a queen and forever advocating for the rights of immigrants as well as many other marginalized people.
This gorgeous song discusses the injustice faced by refugees with its lyrical genius, to makes things even better all the proceeds of this single are donated to the UNHCR; the United Nations Refugee Agency.
Rihanna flawlessly outlines the American dream and the hustle that comes with it for so many immigrants in this stunning ballad. This song moves away from Rihanna’s more mainstream work and comments on some of the most important issues in society today.
K’naan rhythmically discusses his journey from Somalia to America and the impact it has had on the person he has become. This song is great to dance around in your room to, not that I do this regularly.
In this emotionally charged song; Chansa highlights the shared pain of leaving behind loved ones and the pressure of having to provide for those back home. The video to this song is both relatable and heartbreaking.
This song is slightly more slow-paced, the beautiful vocals combined with the lyrics really hits home some of the painful emotions that come with surviving war and leaving behind everything that you know.
Falling in love is… complicated. On one hand you’re feeling infatuated, exhilarated, and dizzy with the possibilities of new love. On the other hand, it can be lonely, frustrating, and confusing to know how the other person feels. This playlist will take you on a montage of emotions. Expect swaying in your room with clasped hands, and a whole lot of tears.
And then you start wondering what your wedding will look like. Will you wear your mom’s old wedding dress? Can you ever have enough flowers to rival Edward and Bella’s Twilight wedding? You’re not together (yet) but imagining a thousand years with them makes you giddy.
Unrequited love. When you’ve fallen head over heels for someone, having them not love you back can be devastating. Simone’s beautiful voice perfectly encapsulates that feeling of knowing that he needs you but just won’t realize it.
Nope, we don’t mean Facebook poking your crush till they block you. Is that still a thing? But we do mean the kind of love that’s meant to be despite everything. You and your crush may be worlds apart, but fate feels stronger than ever.
But sometimes you realize that your crush isn’t who you thought they were. Did they play with your feelings? Pull you in for their own games? Pagan Poetry will make you feel that burning confusion of loving someone you know isn’t good for you.
But then again, your crush might just turn out to love you back. And maybe you will have that alternative love story, and get married in a Twilight wedding, and maybe, just maybe, your crush is a fool for you.
I am completely and utterly Bollywood obsessed. I’ve grown up on Bollywood movies and songs, and I have so many memories that I’m instantly reminded of every time I listen to any specific Hindi song. I remember dancing to Hindi songs as a kid, even singing along (read: screaming) the songs at the top of my lungs.
Till this day, one of my favorite ways to relieve stress is by having impromptu one-person dance parties to Bollywood songs. Here I present to you a few of my dance favorites.
This list would not be complete without this song. This is the very first song I remember dancing to, and it is just such a feel good remix to a slow romantic number, sung in the melodious voice of Lata Mangeshkar. I’m pretty sure we have me dancing to this recorded somewhere on tape too!
One of the recent songs in Bollywood, this song had me waiting excitedly since I heard it in the trailer of this movie. Released last week, this song has me wanting to jump up and dance every time I listen to it! I absolutely love the sheer desiness of this song, and just how youthful it is. That spirit of carefree singing and dancing is definitely what I live for.
One of the biggest hits of last year, this one is going to be danced to for years to come! Also, can we just take a note of, and appreciate, Katrina’s amazing abs? Like damn, watching this song for the first time genuinely made me want to hit the gym! Nothing like a good fitspirtion from a Bollywood dance number.
Confession time: if there is one old school movie that I can watch without getting bored halfway, it’s most definitely this one. The songs, the choreography, the story- everything was just perfect for the 90’s. Another embarrassing confession: it is because of this movie that I have an undying love for heart-shaped balloons. And I am rather sad to report, I have yet to come across balloons as glorious as depicted in this movie!
The original version of this song is a soothing, romantic number. Personally, I’m always a bit wary of slow romantic numbers being turned into fast-paced dance numbers, but this song is one of the few that really takes the original song, and makes the remix sound even better than the original.
This remix of the cult classic is too good to pass up on. I know I killed that replay button until I learnt the dance steps to it. I learnt it, took the lead, taught it to my brother, and eventually, we danced together at one of our cousin’s wedding.
Who can deny, this movie was “best friend” goals! That hook step of the song was all the rage back then, and this was one of the most played songs back in the day. I remember this particular party we had, where these neighbor girls of ours danced to this song. This song brings me back to that party every single time I listen to it, and since I love that slice of time so much, I absolutely love this song too!
Who can resist dancing to this amazing number? Still one of my absolute favorites to add to the playlist for those solo dance parties! There are two separate versions of this song, and when I first heard them on separate occasions, I thought I was going crazy. This version is the one that I like best!
What can I say about this song except that it’s one of my absolute favorites, and it is my ultimate dream to learn those dance moves, all the while still looking as hot as Vaani Kapoor! People bashed this movie, maybe for good reason, but you can’t deny that the album of this movie has some of the best songs of recent years.
Another cult favorite! Definitely never getting old, this one. There’s always time to disco!
There are two more songs that aren’t on this list, but definitely deserve an honorary mention. Any child growing up in the 90’s will most definitely remember O O Jaane Jaana, as well as Ole Ole. Today’s generation will probably never even hear these songs, much less remember them, but truly, 90’s and 2000’s Bollywood had some of the best music of all time.
In an age of travel bans, refugee crises, political protests, and rebellion against stereotypes, there are also musical artists here to talk about it all.
This is a list that focuses on Arab musicians who refuse to let things passively happen to them, who reclaim their narratives by engaging with concepts of identity, politics, and culture. And they do so in a very fresh style that I like to call “alternative Arabic.” They go beyond the sappy modern Arabic pop styles by including rap or electronic beats, with lyrics that mean something. At the same time, they don’t disregard their Arab roots for a more favored Western musical style. They are inspired by classical Arabic lyrics, traditions, and rhythms.
These artists all differ in how much Arabic they include – Mashrou Leila is all in Arabic, Mona Haydar incorporates some Arabic phrases, and Odissee doesn’t include any – but what unites them all in my mind is that they redefine the path of what it means to be Arab and what Arab music consists of.
Feel free to listen to this while browsing through calligraffiti or reading about Middle Eastern politics and sipping some tea.
This movement of new Arabic music is very much led by Sudanese artists. There are 4 others on this list, but Odissee is one of my favorites. His lyrics specifically capture what it’s like to be a Sudanese-American and speak directly to present American fears. Even if you’re not a hip-hop fan, his lyrics are just too accurate to ignore.
This is probably one of the saddest songs I’ve heard, and I only understand parts of it. ‘Marikh’ means Mars in Arabic, and Hamed Sinno’s voice will make you feel like you’re literally drifting into space. If you’re looking for more songs from the Lebanese band (and who wouldn’t after hearing this?), I would listen to their haunting Tiny Desk concert.
This French-Tunisian singer’s song may sound like an ordinary, pretty French song at the start, but the language switches halfway through to Arabic then back to French. The two tongues intermingle, just like Kraïem’s identities. She is focused on bringing the two cultures together and has also spoken about the Tunisian revolution.
‘Beirut’ is actually a take on a traditional 1940s Lebanese song, and Hamdan turns into something haunting, nostalgic, and proud. Her acoustic version on Tiny Desk is also really good. Hamdan herself reminds me of a Lebanese Lana del Rey who bases a lot of her work on past Arabic musical tradition.
Narcy is a Candian-Iraqi hip-hop artist known for his almost aggressive rap and moving lyrics. He tends to mix both Arabic and English lyrics while also combining Western hip-hop with classical Arabic music. Shadia Mansour, a British-Palestenian rapper also does the same, focusing especially on politics.
Though this is not one of Offendum’s more well known songs, this is definitely favorite. It takes a more upbeat tone than most of his other songs, but his smooth Arabic rapping does not falter. My favorite part is when he brings in his last name into the lyrics. Like Narcy and Mansour, who he has collaborated with, he mixes two musical and poetic traditions and sends a message with his music, usually focusing on his home country Syria. He also just released a new album you should check out here.
Alsarah describes the story behind this song, translated to ‘The Bride of the Nile,” as stemming from Sudanese folklore. She is a Sudanese-American ethnomusicologist, singer, and songwriter who used music to help her cope with her transition into America from Sudan. While her and her band’s songs are in Arabic and give strong East African vibes, there is a retro pop element to it that makes the combination so unique. Their music videos also offer a fitting, colorful supplement.
8. Alright || TooDope feat. MaMan (produced by Omar Majid)
I can’t get over the first part of this song. It’s conversational and musical, and just fun to listen to. TooDope brings in images and sounds familiar to those from Sudan: 3aseeda, curly hair, and the ‘aye’ in the back. He couples that with the very American words ‘dope’ and ‘y’all’ for a very lighthearted mix of the two identities.
Egyptian singer, songwriter, and actress Maryam Saleh has a unique and captivating voice that adds a lot to the Middle Eastern alternative music scene. Her lyrics are also very poetic, with this song translating as ‘Moan of the Pigeon.’ And hey there’s Oddisee’s name again, demonstrating the strong ties and collaborations all these different artists from different backgrounds have had.
I personally prefer the Arabic version of this song (“Hon Enwaladet”), but the Arab-Israeli band has a music video for the Hebrew version with English translations here. Growing up as second-class citizens in Israel, they talk about their experiences and identity as Arab Israelis and unite the two through language. The word ‘dam’ means ‘blood’ in Hebrew and in ‘eternity’ in Arabic (also resembling the Arabic word for blood). In this song specifically, the image of their neighborhood as an embarrassed bride is something so unique but so effective at getting the point across.
“We both know a home is not an origin / We both know a home is where one finds it,” Sinkane sings softly. He’s a Sudanese-American who speaks directly to anyone who struggles with the concept of home and identity. But don’t mistake him for losing his roots and Westernizing his music just because of this more American-leaning song. Other songs of his like “U’Huh” remind me of that pop East African tone Alsarah takes, while incorporating Arabic lyrics (and its music video is stunning).
This band may look like a typical hipster bunch, but their story is more complex. They are Syrian refugees, one member of whom was drafted into and left the army, another who was killed for his activism in the country. Their latest album reflects a shift in the revolution, starting with hope and ending with a more mournful tone. Though they are trained in classical Arabic music, they choose a rock approach, which still sounds just as hurtful, inspiring, and plain beautiful.
In response to the travel ban, Spotify started an initiative in which they brought artists from the six banned countries to collaborate with American artists and create a playlist called “I’m with the Banned.” One of the songs to come out of this is Cycles, by Tunisian refugee Methal and the X Ambassadors. The lyrics and her story are haunting, and her voice is reminiscent of Shakira’s. It’s a wonderful song, and I recommend you listen the rest of the playlist.
Syrian-American poet-turned-rapper recently released this song that has us at The Tempest totally inspired. Though her songs are for the entire Muslim community, I have her on this list because she is an Arab woman reclaiming her identity and being through her music while also utilizing Arabic phrases like, “Sawt al mara thowra” (“a woman’s voice is revolution.”)
I think it fitting to frame this playlist with our final Sudanese artist: Sammany Hajo. He describes himself on Twitter as an “audio painter,” which I think is very fitting. He takes old and classic Sudanese songs and turns them into modern masterpieces by remixing them. The songs he produces sound amazing while paying homage to his homeland. His whole album is brilliant and sums up the essence of all these artists perfectly.
To quote Jack Black’s character from School of Rock, “the world is run by the man.” Every day we face oppressive forces in our society be it racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. that are meant to hold us back. But we don’t have to sit idly by and take the injustice. This mixtape is all about standing up for yourself and sticking it the man. It features female artists who, like yourself, are sick and tired of the stereotypes, expectations, and constraints society has placed on them. If the man’s got you feeling down know that you’re not alone, and find inspiration in these songs so you can go out there and stick it to the man yourself.
Aretha Franklin knows that she deserves her partner’s respect, and she’s not going to give in until she gets it. This song is a great reminder to all women that we deserve respect in our relationships. And it can also be applied as an anthem to the civil rights movement and fight for equality, because the basis of human rights is respect for all people regardless of identity.
In this song, Joan Jett offers up the ultimate middle finger to outdated gender roles and anybody who tries to police women’s behavior. As the lyrics express, Jett doesn’t give a damn if her behavior has given her a bad reputation, because “a girl can do what she wants to do” regardless of if society approves or not.
This song is a parody for how people in the US, as well as the government, view immigrants as scary and threatening. M.I.A mocks the idea that immigrants and refugees are just here to “take your money” without contributing anything to society. Although this has become a popular talking point by some politicians, immigrants are no different than people born in American in that they’re just trying to do their best to get by.
This song is the perfect anthem for anyone who’s ever had been told by an ex partner that you wouldn’t be able to live without them. This is obviously not true and Beyoncé, Michelle, and Kelly are here to remind you that you’re a survivor and don’t need that kind of negativity. After all, the best revenge is to just live your life and show how much better off you are without them.
Hayley Kioko is here to steal yo girl. This song is an anthem about a girl who steals another guy’s girlfriend and it repeats the line “girls like girls like boys do”. It’s a simple and seemingly obvious statement, but is also very necessary because girl-girl relationships are often depicted as over-sexualized and for male consumption. The song reminds listeners that romantic relationships between women are just as legitimate as heterosexual relationships.
Halsey sings about how she can’t be pinned down or claimed by anyone or anything. She’s doesn’t belong to a man or a city, but is rather “a wandress, a one night stand”. The song also embraces the fact that she is disruptive and takes up space rather than apologizing for, it which women so often unfairly feel the need to do.
The song starts off sounding like a petty and jealous take down of a woman, objecting that another girl “thinks she’s the queen of the neighborhood”. But it is shortly revealed that the singer actually has a crush on this girl, and it develops into a love song from one woman to another and an anthem for female solidarity.
In the song, Brooks lists off the many sides to herself. She doesn’t hold back and embraces the good, the bad, and the ugly. In her own words, she’s “a bitch…a lover…a child…a mother…a sinner…a saint” and she feels no shame, proving that women are multi faceted and complex and can’t be put in a box or defined by societal stereotypes.
I’ve always had those moments in which I just didn’t know what to do in order to feel inspired. Reading quotes, watching motivational videos, and asking a friend for a pep talk don’t always work. But one thing which never fails to recharge my motivational battery is listening to certain songs. Music has this power to uplift even the lowest spirits. If you ever find yourself feeling a lack of energy when it comes towards pursuing your goals, grab your headphones and press play:
The go-to song for when you feel like you don’t make a difference in the world. It gets me every time. “The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave, that I made a difference, and this world will see, I was here.” Beyonce will blow you away in her performance.
This one’s a classic! No matter what I’m going through, when I listen to The Climb, I feel like all the struggles are worth it. Because it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Cheesy? Perhaps. But I’ve learned that all those cliches and corny quotes are true 98% of the time.
This one is so catchy and has amazing messages in the lyrics. It’ll make you want to try everything to fulfill your dreams. The fact that it’s the featured song in Disney’s Zootopia makes it 100 times better.
This song is so empowering, especially for when you’re going through a period of uncertainty about your future. When I was applying for grad school and was having self-doubts, I kept this song on replay. Somehow, singing along to it day after day made me realize that I have so much potential to tap into, and that the only thing getting in the way of my dreams was me.
Growing up, I knew my dad’s family were “orange men,” or Scottish protestants living in Ireland, and my mom’s family were forced to leave County Cork during the Potato famine. It wasn’t until I had to read Jonathan Swift’s satire A Modest Proposalin high school that I really understood the political conflict bred into me. Suddenly, it seemed way more reasonable that my great-grandmother objected to my parents’ marriage because my dad would “force” my mom to convert. Since that realization, I have been fascinated by Irish political divides and putting together this playlist has been an eye-opening trek through Irish (and Irish-American) political pop music.
Unless you live under a rock, you know that U2 is hands down the biggest band out of Ireland. This song is my favorite, as it describes the horrors of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and cemented the band’s political activism. The lyrics beautifully decry sectarian violence: “And the battle’s just begun / There’s many lost, but tell me who has won /The trench is dug within our hearts / And mothers, children, brothers, sisters / Torn apart.” It’s easy to get lost in the hypnotic drumbeat and vocals, but the pacifist message can’t be glossed over as the effects of the Troubles are still felt in Ireland today.
This song was originally written by Prince, but Sinéad O’Connor’s rendition became iconic in the 1990s. The music video is haunting, consisting mostly of O’Connor’s head, floating like a ghost over a black background. O’Connor quickly became a controversial figure after her protest of the Catholic Church’s cover up of child abuse on Saturday Night Live.
I really enjoy the juxtaposition of these two Sinéad O’Connor songs, and its obvious its a comparison she wants listeners to be aware of. The Take Me to Church music video begins with Nothing Compare’s 2 U’s video projected on O’Connor’s face. It’s both a rejection of her previous image and a continuation of her previous protests. She sings in the chorus, “Take me to church/ But not the ones that hurt / ‘Cause that ain’t the truth / And that’s not what it’s worth,” continuing her rejection of traditional Roman Catholicism. Even the musicality is a complete 180, as its a fun and bouncy pop tune, rather than a lamenting ballad.
I couldn’t put an Irish song called “Take Me to Church” without acknowledging Hozier’s wildly popular ballad. Call him the male Adele if you want, he’s an amazing Irish crooner nonetheless. The song deals with Hozier’s frustration with the Catholic view on homosexuality. He said in an interview with Rolling Stone that “Growing up, I always saw the hypocrisy of the Catholic church… The history speaks for itself and I grew incredibly frustrated and angry. I essentially just put that into my words.”
If you didn’t whine this song in an attempt to mimic the The Cranberries’ accents, were you even a 90s kid? The Cranberries can be grouped into the same sub-genre as Sinéad O’Connor – female-driven Irish alt-rock of the 1990s. It’s incredibly nostalgic for me, and I couldn’t resist including this song.
This is where this playlist starts to delve into Irish-American band – so while headed by an Irish singer, Flogging Molly is based out of LA. There sound can be described as “pirate-like,” in a Celtic punk kind of way. I love this song because it feels like an old-school drinking song you’d hear at a pub. It’s got the right combination of traditional instruments and a more modern rock feel.
This song shows Flogging Molly’s softer side. I like to think that this is a modern retelling of a folk song like Red is the Rose. There are definitely still modern elements present in the song, like the electric guitar, but the fiddle and walking drumbeat stay true to the folk tradition.
This is a famous anti-war protest song that people love to cover, but the Dropkick Murphys’ is my favorite version. The song, more popularly known as No Man’s Land, tells the story of an Irish teenager killed during World War I. The most poignant lyrics come in the last verse:
“And I can’t help but wonder oh Willy McBride
Do all those who lie here know why they died
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause
Did you really believe that this war would end wars
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
The killing and dying it was all done in vain
Oh Willy McBride it all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again.”
So much of the Irish collective identity is tied to loss, from English occupation, to the Potato Famine, to The Troubles. So if it’s not obvious at this point, I love me a good Irish protest song,
I had to end this playlist with what I think is the most stereotypical/iconic Irish song – thanks to the 2006 film, The Departed this is the American touchstone for Irish music. And I don’t really have a problem with that. I remember sitting in my mom’s minivan as a preteen listening to this song and being so grateful that my heritage was ~cool~ for once.
For generations, Western media has cast Africa as the dark continent in movies, books like The Heart of Darkness, on radio, and in magazines. Although images of poverty and endless war are still associated with Africa due to this history, modern African artists, writers, musicians, and cultural creators are reclaiming this narrative. Afrobeat artists are at the cutting edge of creating media that reflects the complexities of life in Africa today. The tide is shifting: the continent is seen as rising and has become a source of inspiration for many, especially in the American music industry. From Drake’s collaboration with Nigerian artist Wizkid to Beyoncè using Yoruba spiritual references in Lemonade, African beats, dance, and visual ideas are slowly taking over the entire world. Join Tempest Fellows Beverly Wakiaga and Adelaide Agyemang as they break down the hottest jams in Afrobeat for all those new to the genre, including the massive hits long time listeners will recognize.
This is the artist I think of when I think of the popularization of Afrobeat. The beats make you want to dance and let go of your stress. On top of that, the song features Wyclef Jean who is Haitian. Can someone say #PanAfricanism!
Two of the highest ranking African musicians joined forces and blessed the world with a song that lets everybody know, they are badder than bad. Tiwa’s declarations and Wizkids backing vocals make for the perfect “I don’t care what you think of me” turn up song.
The dynamic UK based duo Kwamz & Flava have a passion for African culture which they weave into all of their music. With their first break-out hit, the group is one of many stand out UK Afrobeat artists who are changing the game. Their music videos are international sensations, racking over 2 million views on one song alone. Clearly, the takeover has already begun.
Falz is one of the funniest rappers on the continent. On this song he takes on the pressures that women face to get married and how it affects him as a man. The storytelling is amusing and the video simply adds to the general cheekiness of the song.
Medikal is a Ghanian rapper who comes in and out of the spotlight. Every time he releases new music, it makes you wonder where you’ve heard this unique flow before. Too Risky, featuring the fantastic female rapper Sister Derby was a 2016 fan favorite for its blending of Afrobeat and dancehall, and the fact that Medikal shouts out the hustle of local regions including Tema, Medina, Kumasi, and Takoradi by using thier slang throughout the song.
From his dance song “Skelewu” to his romantic song “If”, Davido never fails to deliver. His latest “Fall” is no different, his declarations that he has changed his player ways are not really convincing but the beat will get you. Plus one of his lyrics in the song is “money fall on you,” as a broke college student I encourage such positivity and pray that money will also fall on me .
7. Enemy Solo || P-Square (Feat. Awilo Longomba)
Pretty much everything the Nigerian twin singers P-Square releases is an infectious hit, with expensive budgets and beats that withstand countless replays. This collaboration with Congolese legend Awilo Longomba was no exception. The song, sung in both Lingala and Pidgin is a celebration of triumphing over evil wishes or “Enemy Solo” (“Bad Enemy Smell” or “Bad Pelle” people) and having the courage to keep on succeeding no matter what or in this case who gets in your way.
With his tradermark slogan “Zagadat” Mr Eazi is a rising force in the African music scene. He combines Ghanaian and Nigerian influences to create songs that are super catchy. At one of his concerts everyone was singing this romantic song word for word. By the end of the song you will be promising to never do your partner basa basa and to hold them like skin tight.
Because we love you, we compiled all your new favorite songs in one playlist. Enjoy!
Dystopias typically depict the dangers of government entities threatening the authentic freedom of the public, and/or sci-fi disasters that threaten existence. The fun thing about dystopian works is that they may be far-fetched, but their tales are still conceivable, possible, and their dark elements do indeed manifest in our world.
Dystopias can even be worlds where things seem fine, but under the surface, they are not. There is an element of darkness that lurks in the theme. Similarly, the following music is a collection of lovely, but also uncomfortably dark selections. Some pieces sound bright but are actually sad, and the others sound melancholy simply because they are.
Tune into (or use the music to tune out) the sound of the world falling apart.
Dark and lovely reverberations make your life in rewind eerily bearable. This song is such a well-made recording of the sound of melancholy that you wonder why its so beautiful. “A thousand regrets” sound fine in retrospect if they sound like this.
Don’t you dare tap your foot to the intro or enjoy the music. The “morning sun” isn’t the happy bright thing you want to believe it is. The song is great to listen to as long as you don’t think about the reality of drug abuse and addiction problems in our world. As great as New Order’s music is (as it is beautiful and unique), the very founding of the band is actually sad to recall. Other sordid associations with the song might make you a little nauseas when it plays, but if you love the song for what it is, you will be fine.
I’m warning you ahead of time that Robert Smith’s singing style is not something most of us are used to, especially in darker songs. The song even sounds like it was put together by accident at first. However, its the instrumentals in Fascination Street (as is the value of all the songs off the Disintegration album) which put it on this list.
Sad piano notes struggle past an aggressive guitar, bringing the hope of softer notes. We know the music won’t get softer though- the piano becomes a part of the sound of misery. It is dark, and maybe scary for some, yet it can grow on you.
Whatever “Fascination Street” is, Robby doesn’t sound happy about it.
If you need to recover, switch to the classic “Friday I’m in Love” and try your best not to sing along.
Sweet, sad, gone. What else should we make of Morrissey’s descriptions of the road accidents he imagines dying in? We love them. “To die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine.” The sound of the song is a short walk under the sun, even as the brightness dissolves. “Driving in your car, I never never want to go home- because I haven’t got one.” Morrissey himself describes the light that never goes out as hope. “It’s a fallacy, of course, but it’s a form of religion. You have to believe. There is a light that never goes out and it’s called hope.”
The song is legendary, and a cover by Gary Jules is prominent for being featured in Donnie Darko. Tears for Fears’ version has doses of that uppity 80s sound, but it doesn’t dare overshadow the sadder music. Though it sounds sorrowful, its kind of a nice reminder that life is pointless. What else could better describe the darkest implications of our favorite dystopian work?
Many old school songs carry an element of cheeriness with dark lyrics and meanings, but these are the best I can give you. In the meantime, don’t worry too much about humankind shooting itself in the foot everyday. Just be happy that you’re here to see this world and appreciate some wonderful eery art.