The returns of Rebecca Black and Savage x Metro: your Press Play-list for the week of Oct. 5

Bart Carmody, Arts Editor

In a time of immense feelings of distance and disconnect from one another, artists have taken this opportunity to collaborate with other artists relatively far out of their typical genres in hopes to bring people together.

Just earlier this year, we witnessed folktronica legend Bon Iver deliver a beautiful collaboration with Taylor Swift on her new album “folklore” and mid-200’s punk icons Blink-182 remix a song of the eccentric experimental pop duo 100 gecs.

And in the past week, we were treated with much more—not only does Selena Gomez appear on the new BLACKPINK album to deliver some vocals on “Ice Cream,” but Rebecca Black is making a tremendous return on her very unexpected collaboration with the newly notorious PC music star Dorian Electra, and one of modern-day trap music’s favorite duos 21 Savage and Metro Boomin are back once again with the sequel to their original collaborative project “Savage Mode.” All this and more, here’s your Press Play-list for the week of Oct 5.

Dorian Electra – “Edgelord” (feat. Rebecca Black)

If you’re a fan of the newly-upcoming experimental pop genre of PC music, odds are you’ve heard of Dorian Electra. Their monumental 2019 debut album “Flamboyant” was an array of mind-blowing anthems that not only held a clever and unmatched utilization of bubblegum bass and vocals, but Electra adequately introduces a cunning conversation on gender politics, a topic that is relatively scarce in today’s music. However, their forthcoming sophomore album “My Agenda” appears to include a focus on the darker side of the pop sensation—while still capturing their same out-of-this-world sound. Their new single “Edgelord,” for example, is a darker, moodier track with less bubblegum bass and more so grittier PC production. The vocal delivery sounds appropriately edgier than any of Electra’s previously released music—that, however, does not go without the singer’s usual flair of self-awareness, as the opening line to the song is simply: “We live in a society.” Despite all memes, perhaps the most notable moment on this track are the entrancing vocals from former internet pop star Rebecca Black. Following a since-viral Instagram post in which Black publicly discussed her struggles with mental health, her career has been on a fast-track back into the mainstream, showing that her talent goes far & beyond just her hit sensation “Friday.” Through choppy & over-the-top auto-tune, gloriously brash lyrics and catchy melodies, Black simply eats up on this track, and we anxiously await her imminent pop reign—hopefully including more edgy collaborations with Electra, as well.

Melanie Martinez – “The Bakery”

With her new EP “After School” just dropping on Sept. 25, Melanie Martinez is the next pop queen on our list, continuing the streak of contagious catchiness. And the EP’s cherry-on-top outro “The Bakery” is the perfect track to exhibit said catchiness. Over an infectious guitar loop and deep basslines, Martinez glides like butter over suave production, alternating between a smooth chorus and sweet high-notes. The song is a clever juxtaposition between the singer’s experience working in a bakery while in high school in order to support her burgeoning music career, while also sprinkling in some brilliant metaphors like “rollin’ it out” and “raising the dough” to celebrate how far she’s come in her career since. The icing on the cake is Martinez’s outro, which perfectly wraps the track and the EP “in a bow,” showcasing the artist’s vocal range complete with a warping effect that contrasts the song’s low, earthy bass. Hear this and more on the full project, “After School.”

21 Savage & Metro Boomin – “Glock in My Lap”

Coming in with an unexpected yet long-awaited and much-rumored project is the iconic trap music duo 21 Savage and Metro Boomin with “Savage Mode II.”  Since their 2016 collab project “Savage Mode,” fans everywhere have consistently had trap anthems like “X” and “No Heart” on repeat, as it’s quite hard to match the same sound that these two managed to achieve. And finally, after four long years and with only some collabs in between, the sequel has arrived, and it’s anything but disappointing. Achieving both their trademark sound and experimenting with some classic dirty south production—appropriately matching the album’s cover—it’s safe to say that the duo has not lost their touch. And Metro being known for creating some of the most malicious-sounding beats for Savage to rip into, we’d be remiss to exclude the track “Glock in My Lap.” Not only does Metro manage to produce some of the most evil-sounding production of the year thus far, with low, organ-esque synths and string samples straight out of a killer film, but some of Savage’s most clever and brutal bars are on this track, including the hilarious yet vicious line, “He think he the battery, we call him Elon Musk.” This project is full of horror-esque production perfect for the October season, and if the reunion one of trap music’s most iconic duos isn’t enough to sell you, be sure to at least check out “Snitches & Rats” featuring Young Nudy, in which Morgan Freeman himself provides a monologue in which he reminds listeners the difference between a snitch and a rat: “A rat is a fuckin’ rat. Period.”

Jorja Smith – “Come Over” (feat. Popcaan)

With a sonically different yet just-as-catchy banger of a collaboration is Jorja Smith and Popcaan’s new dancehall track, “Come Over.” The song explores the simple yet too-well-known awkward stages of feeling wanted or unwanted by a new romantic interest, as Smith repeatedly cries out over the song’s chorus, “I don’t know if you want me to come over/Don’t wanna ask, really I should know better.” This idea is further explored in the song’s mesmerizingly beautiful music video directed by frequent Beyoncé collaborators “Future Power Station,” a renowned London-based animation studio. The song is sonically and conceptually completed perfectly by Jamaican DJ & singer Popcaan, who, entirely in enthralling autotune, delivers a refrain that voices the other side of the painstaking interaction between two lovers. As fans patiently yet eagerly await the second full-length release from the multi-talented Smith, we can only hope for collaborations like this one in the future.

BLACKPINK – “Lovesick Girls”

It’s a lot to wrap one’s head around: how could a pop group manage to collaborate with stars like Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa without ever even releasing an official full-length project? Well, with K-pop becoming a genre exponentially growing in popularity, even outside of its birthplace of South Korea, and the sublime musical talent and stage presence of the K-pop group BLACKPINK, it’s no surprise that their debut album “THE ALBUM” got as much attention and praise as it did. And, evidently, the wait paid off. Including even more admirable collaborations with artists like Selena Gomez and Cardi B (their first collaboration with a rapper), “THE ALBUM” is a tremendous achievement for the group as their first full-length release. A particular standout track is the album’s third leading single, “Lovesick Girls,” an echoing pop ballad sung in both Korean and English that juxtaposes its dance-encouraging production with painstaking lyrics about a longing yet discouragement for love. Since BLACKPINK is known for putting on a show and gathering a crowd when in concert, achieving several multi-million-dollar legs when on tour in 2018, it’s easy to imagine that when concerts eventually become a reality once again, this song will be well-known and chanted by fans everywhere.

Native Son – “Brown Water”

Sonically, “Brown Water,” the debut single from Brooklyn-based artist Native Son, is sunny and sweet-sounding, complete with catchy chord progressions and smooth drum loops. Lyrically, however, the song is far from melodious and is more so melancholy—the opening lines immediately being sung as “Mr. Officer stepping on a black tile/Another number/Turn my whole day sour/I can’t breathe.” Native Son’s debut track is a narrative on the normalization of Black death and violence in media, and the seldom-discussed yet often-overlooked effects that this normalization can have on the mental health of Black people. This idea is further explored in the song’s incredibly profound music video, directed by Jack Sirois, in which Native Son portrays images of police brutality and psychological Black violence done by the media which spawns the concern thought by Black people far too often: “Could’ve been me,” which Native Son also bluntly repeats throughout the track. In an interview with Complex UK, Native Son elaborated: “‘Brown Water’ is a song about the unwelcome but unavoidable pain many Black people feel upon seeing or experiencing instances of police brutality, but it’s not a song about wallowing in that pain. The song’s central purpose is to remind people that pain is not all we are, and not at all what we want to feel. Our lives in Blackness are just as complex as any others, and we’re more than victims—we’re beautiful.” Stream the debut track from Native Son on streaming services everywhere, and be sure to look out for his debut EP “Metro Dread” on Oct. 28.