Listen Up

From dance-ready hip-hop to stunning indie-pop and a fantastical video, some of our favorite music from the week

Tiwa Savage: 49-99

Nigeria-born Tiwa Savage offers a poignant single about the plight of citizens from her home country in “49-99.” The title references Fela Kuti’s 1978 song “Shuffering and Shmiling,” which addresses the lack of resources in underserved communities—especially with the line “49 sitting, 99 standing” about riding the bus. In contrast, Savage’s tune is about coming up, garnering the notoriety and means to make change for yourself and your community. It’s empowering, infectious and the Meji Alabi-directed video is equally thoughtful.

M83: Temple Of Sorrow

To accompany the new song “Temple of Sorrow,” by M83 (aka French musician Anthony Gonzalez), a nine-minute film—part one of three, written and directed by Bertrand Mandico—takes viewers along the Nirvana Queen’s wild and mystical quest for autonomy. Mandico’s three-part story Extazus is inspired by music from Gonzalez’s upcoming instrumental album DSVII (set for release 20 September) and certainly reflects some of his inspirations: ’80s-era soundtracks from video games and sci-fi/fantasy films; and musicians, sound designers, and composers like Suzanne Ciani, Brian Eno and Mort Garson.

Celeste: Strange

Haunting and delicate, Celeste’s “Strange” spotlights the artist’s vocal prowess atop a sparse, string-adorned instrumental. It’s cinematic but utterly heartbreaking upon closer listen. “Isn’t it strange? / how people can change / from strangers to friends / friends into lovers / and strangers again,” she sings. The accompanying video, has its highs and lows—the camera zooms and then recedes, sometimes cutting to black in a cyclical pattern.

Francis and the Lights feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West: Take Me To The Light

In advance of their album out later this year, Francis and the Lights have released “Take Me To The Light.” Lead singer Francis Startlite’s croon lifts up the synth-pop tune, but guest vocals from frequent collaborators Bon Iver and Kanye West punctuate its power. Starlite’s become known for his producing efforts with the likes of West, Chance the Rapper and more. Here, production gets support from an all-star cast that includes West, BJ Burton, Benny Blanco, Cashmere Cat, Jeff Bhasker, and Noah Goldstein. For all the talent involved, it’s an easily enjoyable and entirely polished pop number.

Duckwrth: Crush

Duckwrth’s “Crush” acts as a confessional—”I’m a habitual crusher,” Duckwrth (aka Jared Lee) tells Billboard (who exclusively premiered the track’s video). The LA-based artist blends hip-hop and R&B to deliver a danceable track, and the accompanying video features enticing choreography. When Duckwrth picks up a new dance partner—which he does on three occasions; inside his apartment, on the sidewalk and at a local restaurant—it’s hard not to join in. He’ll be on tour through December.

Moonchild: What You’re Doing

LA-based trio Moonchild’s latest album Little Ghost lines up one soulful, emotive and beat-driven track after another—to a great, cohesive sonic effect. The latest single “What You’re Doing” stands among the best, epitomizing their unique blend of experimental R&B, neo-soul and funk. It’s easy to love—and easier to dream along to.


Listen Up is published every Sunday and rounds up the new music we found throughout the week. Hear the year so far on our Spotify channel.