NEW EP: On ‘Welcome to the Witching Hour,’ MyKey Makes Space for Late-Night Thinkers

There’s something old-school about MyKey.

Maybe it’s the fact he doesn’t really know how TikTok works, despite being on the Gen Z cusp age of 24 (and almost 25). Or maybe it’s because when he hops on our video call, he informs me that he’s on his grocery store weekly tour, checking out what four different supermarkets in L.A. have to offer.

“I’m literally an old man in that way,” he says, chuckling.

Today, MyKey released his debut EP Welcome to the Witching Hour, coming on the heels of a sprawling, 16-track album back in 2017 when he was in his early days of releasing music. He started taking guitar lessons at age seven, then stuck with guitar, going to a bluegrass event at age 10 and joining local Maryland bluegrass band Flower Hill String Band after connecting with them at that show.

MyKey makes music that draws from folk, while he’s part of a broader bedroom pop generation that has been sweeping the industry. On Welcome to the Witching Hour, he unexpectedly draws parallels to the genesis of his artistry– his first-ever song was called ‘Vin Diesel Runs on Gasoline,’ and it wasn’t until after he put together his EP that he released the sixth track is called ‘Vin Diesel,’ an unintentional callback to his early songwriting.

Welcome to the Witching Hour strays from his first album, Faces, in several ways. For one, the new project was written entirely in an Airbnb getaway, as MyKey and his friends/collaborators melted their minds together in one big effort rather than piecing together the album.

“I really went at it completely alone for the first album. This time around, my friends and I truly collaborated on this little getaway, which was something I’d never done prior. It was a really fun way of doing it.”

MyKey still stands by the new EP being ‘just as chaotic as the first album,’ in that he continues explores a bevy of genres. On Faces, for example, he involved folk, pop, black metal, jazz and rock. This time, though, it’s more of a communal project.

“I really wanted to let me friends’ work shine, whether it be on the production, or some of the songwriting. As a whole, though, Welcome to the Witching Hour contains way more of my own stories than Faces did. I always used to hate writing about my own experiences, and would make songs out of my friends’ stories, so this is much more of a personal record.”

Photo credit: Axel Kabundji

“It feels really weird, though,” he continues, “To put my own opinion on my emotions. And then release it out into the world. Like, people are hearing my takes on my own emotions and shit. That’s a new level of vulnerability for me.”

Songs like ‘Emily’ and ‘Marshmallow Moons’ are perfect for when you want to fashion yourself a teen movie star, looking out of a train window at a gray sky and thinking about that someone who makes your palms sweaty. Listening to ‘Mazda5’ will convince you that you, too, had a Mazda in high school, reliably getting you to school, to see a friend, to blast your favorite album in or to cry in. And for all of his old-man-cosplay, ‘Sweet Tooth’ could easily be a TikTok viral hit– it’s of the same ilk as the sleepy, viral smash ‘death bed (coffee for your head)’ by powfu and Beabadoobee.

Like the EP’s namesake, I can’t think of a better time to listen to this than in the middle of the night, when the threads of reality unspool a bit and you can go on an introspective journey without the noise of reality dragging you down.

MyKey’s friends and sometimes-collaborators are all up-and-comers in the space, including names like REI AMI, Adam Melchor, spill tab, Marinelli and bennytheghost, to name a few.

When I ask about a dream collaborator, his old-school brain takes over control, replying with certainty.

“Bruce Springsteen. I’ve always wanted to make music with him. My mid-life crisis moment would ideally be a collab with him.”

You can find MyKey on Instagram (though he ‘barely understands it.’)

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NEW EP: On ‘Cruise Control,’ Ben Kessler Explores Introspective Pop with Energetic Production

Philly native and Nashville lingerer Ben Kessler is making indie pop music that melds two inherent truths of today: as humans, we are looking inwards more than ever before, while in music, our sonic landscape continues to push boundaries with digitized, vibe-y production. Fold one into the other, or vice versa, and that’s the avenue you’ll find Kessler wandering down.

LISTEN TO ‘CRUISE CONTROL’ ON SOUNDCLOUD OR ON YOUR FAVORITE STREAMING PLATFORM

On his debut EP Cruise Control, which the pandemic has forced him to create from his parents’ basement on the heels of graduating from Vanderbilt University, he finds himself growing into this intersection of songwriting and production.

The EP consists of five songs, two of which have already been released as singles.

“I knew I wanted to do the EP at the end of 2019,” says Kessler, “and have it come out in the year after finishing up at Vanderbilt.”

“I was waiting to graduate, and the plan was initially to do that, then stay in Nashville and make the EP. But, obviously, the floor disappeared from under me; all my friends were moving, my lease was up, and it felt like my world was shutting down. Music was changing, too, and it suddenly wasn’t clear what releasing would be like.”

Needless to say, Kessler explains that the EP was born out of a place of uncertainty and anxiety.

“I love writing about inward-looking things, and I want to make music that is self-aware and reflective. ‘Cruise Control’ [the title track] was the first song I wrote for the EP, and it was one that I had written early on, had kind of forgotten about, and then rediscovered it. I thought, ‘Oh, this says everything I want to say with this EP, and it’s all in this one song. That’s perfect.'”

The song ‘Cruise Control,’ is definitely a bop, starting off with an immediate flurry of stressed-out, emotive lyrical contradictions.

One foot on the gas, one foot on the brake
All the things that I love, all the things that I hate
I breathe deep or I suffocate
I feel numb or I feel everything

His voice wafts atop woozy keys to start, but the production builds into so much more, eventually layering his singing with warped, pitched-up vocals that give way to a very electronic bridge. The track ends with the warped, pitched-up vocals once more, this time isolated, and leaves you craving more. (Every PR release says that a track will leave you ‘craving more’ but I am being 100% serious when I say that.)

Kessler was inspired by acts like Coldplay and John Mayer when he was young, then as he got into high school and older, his taste expanded, and he began closely following the careers of indie juggernauts like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes. When he was barely a teenager, he was going to live music shows in Philly, and he burned his first EP on a bunch of physical CDs to pass out at a radio show.

“I would go to these free Friday concerts hosted by Philly radio station WXPN, and radio DJ Helen Leicht took my CD and put it on nationally syndicated radio. She’s been so supportive always, and that radio placement helped book shows in Philly and New York. I’d also see these really great acts at these shows, people like Ingrid Michaelson, Ray LaMontagne, even Kevin Bacon.”

Photo credit: Josefine Cardoni

Like many new artists trying to make it in the music industry, Kessler has had that initial struggle: how can he juggle making music for him and making what the industry wants? What does the industry even want?

“Suddenly, whatever type of pop song that is doing well commercially becomes your (and the industry’s) main definition of what makes a good song. So when people hear I’m a singer-songwriter, they either want me to go co-write in that direction or do a very stripped-down, acoustic-only sound when I’m making my own stuff. That doesn’t feel like me.”

When I mention ELIO, an up-and-coming indie pop talent who is being creatively managed by none other than Charli XCX, Kessler lights up. ELIO, though a burgeoning artist herself, has already pinpointed lively pop music with killer songwriting and sharp, futuristic production; she and Kessler both draw inspiration from The 1975, funnily enough.

“Production is so important; it can really transform an artist. I think you can take a lot of demos and put the hyperpop production spin on it, and that’s what a lot of people wanted me to do. But I wasn’t enjoying those sessions. I was like, ‘well this song could be a hyperpop song, but can’t we let it exist in another sound or genre?’ And I think this EP shows that sound I’m trying to accomplish, where I can be inward-looking with my lyrics while experimenting with the production and keeping the energy there.”

Lately, Kessler has been listening to artists like SG Lewis, Verzache, Jim-E Stack and Jimi Somewhere. When I ask about who his dream collaborator would be, I get two answers.

“High school me would say John Mayer. Current me would say James Blake.”

Genre-Bent and Self-Produced, andy polk Releases New Song ‘pins&needles’ with cookii

It’s no surprise that hyperpop has manifested itself as more than just a maximalist, torqued-up version of pop. The genre has found a way to merge with alt, hip-hop and punk sounds, among others, perhaps most notably by artists like 100 gecs working with Fall Out Boy, or via the emo musings of newer names like Brevin Kim and daine.

Andy polk is one such artist taking that route, existing in and around hyperpop, electropop and alt hip-hop.

On his new track, ‘pins&needles,’ polk enlists Australia-based hyperpop artist cookii, featuring rapid-fire production and warped, frantic vocals.

Press photo

“Tripping with my headphones on,” sing-yells Andy, “I don’t even know what the answers are.”

It’s a track that reflects the chaos of life the past year, two minutes and 27 seconds of trying to reckon with the unknown as we hurtle through space on a huge globular rock. The lyricism and melodies are reminiscent of 2000s punk-pop, and cookii’s feature provides some solace to andy and the listener; she’s another person with whom we can share our burdens.

Tackling mental health and the angst of life in a post-capitalist pressure-cooker, this is definitely a track to queue up when you need to let off some steam.

Check out this cathartic bop on streaming platforms, or you can listen on SoundCloud here. You can also find andy on Instagram.

NEW ARTIST: 16-Year-Old Producer Zuloh

I am a recent frequenter of Clubhouse, the social media app taking the internet by storm right now. Think of Clubhouse like a platform for live podcasting: users make rooms, centered around a professional or social topic, and anyone who comes across the room can drop-in and listen.

On Monday night, I was a moderator on a room talking pop music, hosted by entertainment business collective FutureParty. There were plenty of really cool people in that conversations, with people spanning areas of the broader music industry: producers, songwriters, managers, A&Rs and bloggers (like moi).

On this call, one of the audience members who came up to the “stage” to contribute to the chat introduced himself as Zuloh, a 16-year-old producer. I’m always blown away by young talents, just by the sheer self-confidence and drive you need to have to pursue creative work before adulthood, so I immediately went to go check out his stuff.

Zuloh, who told the room on Clubhouse that he started producing at just 11 years old, has two tracks out on streaming. One is called ‘Mirror’ and the other ‘ILY,’ the latter being released on Valentine’s Day. The growth from ‘Mirror,’ released in July 2020, to ‘ILY’ is instantly noticeable; ‘ILY’ is polished, sharp and balanced (but for the record, I like both tracks).

The first artist that comes to mind when listening to Zuloh was Cashmere Cat, one of my favorite producers ever. ‘Mirror’ definitely has more of a Cashmere Cat feel, but both tracks take me back to when I was on SoundCloud all the time, listening to producers and DJs like Flume, Whethan, Louis the Child, Jai Wolf and Vanic.

Check out Zuloh on Spotify, SoundCloud and Instagram.

BEMATA Knows That Fantasy Is Essential

Dance music deals with the magic of energy, and energy is a guiding topic during my recent conversation with Brooklyn-based talent BEMATA.

As we near the one-year anniversary of locked-in living, and snowstorms ravage the United States, let’s not lie; our collective energy is down. We can craft as many routines and concoct as many indoor hobbies as we’d like, but we haven’t been able to replicate the social, communal power that dance music offers in a non-pandemic setting.

BEMATA, who just released her second single, titled ‘New Level // SUPERWATER,’ was faced with a bit of a conundrum in late winter 2020. Her debut single, ‘Need U 2,’ was ready for release. After moving from a corporate communications job to a freelance set-up, committing herself to making music professionally, the start of the pandemic peppered the beginning of her career with uncertainties.

Photo credit: Eric Lopez (@ericl0pez)

“I remember at the beginning of the pandemic, I shared ‘Need U 2’ with my dad. And he was like, ‘Oh wow. This is really a club song, a dance song. Is this the moment to share that?’ And I was like, ‘You know what, yeah, this is actually THE moment to share that.’ I wanted it to cut through everything going on.”

BEMATA’s music will sound familiar if you’re a fan of dance auteurs like Aluna or KAYTRANADA, or vibe purveyors like Kelela. When asked about who her dream collaborators would be, she pauses to think, then rattles off an eclectic collection of names: Cher, Timbaland, Toro y Moi, Little Dragon, M.I.A. Her taste is impeccable, of course, and her influences span genre and time.

Before getting to the point of releasing music, Boston native BEMATA was following a curiosity for knowing the world, working at a small brand strategy agency and taking a logical next step after studying communications in college. She and her coworkers were collaborating on agency projects with people all over the globe.

“I love learning about people and humans and cultures,” she said. “That job was such an amazing opportunity to do that, and the work was directly inspiring my songwriting.”

Eventually, she realized making music couldn’t just happen on the weekends. ‘Bemata’ means ‘by night’ in Amharic, the language spoken in her native country of Ethiopia, and she began staying up on weeknights and after hours to make her music. Despite her name, it was early mornings while growing up that she began to get attuned to music, hearing her mom playing the radio before dawn.

“My mom would wake up at like four or five AM for work,” says BEMATA. “She would play the radio to get her energized.”

“So I remember hearing a lot of Fleetwood Mac and soft rock. Other than that, there were a lot of CDs in my house. Tina Turner, Cher, Miles Davis, Bob Marley, Curtis Mayfield, and then a bunch of Ethiopian sounds too, like Aster Aweke. She’s like the Beyonce of Ethiopia. Music was everywhere in my house, and oftentimes my mom, dad and sister would have dance parties while cleaning, and that’s when artists like ABBA and Tina Turner would get their moment.”

BEMATA also grew up adoring Mariah Carey’s vocal abilities. At the end of the day, listening to many different kinds of music is almost spiritual for her.

“I like listening to music from so many different cultures– it makes you so aware of your place in the world and your connection to other folks. It was powerful to know that music was bigger than my friends, my school, my town. In my music, I’m always pushing for that global sound; I know that sounds cliche, but I want to cultivate a sound that reminds you that there are other worlds outside of the one you know, that energizes you to imagine.”

For those whose lives are intertwined with music, dance and togetherness, like many of us at Indie Pong, the pandemic makes us painfully aware of what we don’t have access to. It’s the same for BEMATA.

“Man. I really miss dancing. I really miss going out in Brooklyn having really late nights. I miss being at Elsewhere or Baby’s All Right, or just having unpredictable nights, sweating it out.”

BEMATA isn’t the biggest fan of Zoom performances and digital connection, which were popular especially in the early pandemic months.

“I think we’re all in this moment of adaption and just being like, ‘okay, if this is our world right now, how can we really make the best of it?’ We used to have the dance floor, a place we could all come and have unforgettable experiences together. I think we need to keep being creative about what we can offer in the meantime. Maybe it’s not a live performance on Twitch. Maybe it’s crafting something that’s mailed to your house that feels really special. Or maybe it’s a different way of connecting with someone across the screen.”

“We definitely need to keep that humanity and rawness from dance culture alive. And I’m sure it’ll come back. But man, I can’t wait for that moment where I can create experiences for people in real life.”

For now, we rely on fantasy. Dance music and dance communities have always been a vessel, helping transport people from their darkest problems or from their most mundane trivialities. What does BEMATA think about the word ‘fantasy?’

“I love that word. Fantasy means many worlds are possible. Fantasy means knowing ambition… it means dramatic on purpose. It’s unhinged and artful and beautiful.”

Follow BEMATA on Instagram at @BEMATA__ and find her music on streaming services. BEMATA is also part of the Pushing Buttons Collective, an inclusive community of creators making progressive instrumentalist music.

Indie Pong PREMIERE: Luke Markinson Battles Breakup Blues on New Double-Single

Welcome to the Indie Pong premiere of a new double-single from hyperpop newcomer Luke Markinson!

‘Hardcore Miserable’ and ‘Out the Bed’ are about battling insecurity in a relationship and coming to terms with a breakup (despite loving someone very much). Over swelling synths and wild, dive-bombing bass blasts, a la Charli XCX‘s ‘anthems,’ Markinson charts the pain of ending a relationship utilizing glitchy, warped-out production.

The 19-year-old WashU sophomore recently talked to IndiePong about making music out of his literal dorm room closet– check that out here.

STREAM ‘HARDCORE MISERABLE’ AND ‘OUT THE BED’

LUKE MARKINSON – ‘HARDCORE MISERABLE’

LUKE MARKINSON – ‘OUT THE BED’

The double-single comes on the heels of three singles in 2020, including his first, ‘Never Alone.’ Quick to rise in the ranks of a lively hyperpop scene in music right now, the genre juggernaut Charli XCX added ‘Never Alone’ to her official Beats by Dr. Dre playlist on Apple Music. It’s Markinson’s second era, of sorts, after he began by building a follower base on Vine by posting covers and original music (okay Shawn Mendes!).

Aside from Charli baby, Markinson finds his biggest inspiration from the musings of Troye Sivan, The 1975 and underground gay club music.

Follow Luke on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, and stay tuned to Indie Pong for exclusive new music premieres to come!

New Music: Sofia Valdés Infuses Sunshine into Sad Girl Pop with ‘Lonely’

Sofia Valdés, just 20 years old, is a must-listen for anyone into the Phoebe Bridgers/folklore/Billie Eilish/Olivia Rodrigo musical universe. In short, that means anyone into sad stuff that sounds comforting and beautiful but cuts deep and puts words and higher meaning to your inner melancholy.

Valdés, born in Panama and schooled in both the U.S. and U.K., puts a refreshing twist on sad girl pop, though. Her new track ‘Lonely,’ for example, her newest release, sends me in a business class seat on a bullet train to my feels; but I don’t feel despairingly sad when listening.

February, March, what’s the catch?
It’s been dragging us through the water to face the fact
That I’m leaving on Sunday at 2 PM
And I might never see you laughing again

That’s because Valdés’s sound doesn’t pirouette dejectedly like a Bridgers’ song might (let me be clear that ‘pirouetting dejectedly’ is an art, I am very much complimenting Phoebe here). It’s not quite as bleak or understated as Clairo, either (again, saying it complimentarily, trying to make a comparison). Something sunny and bright swells in Valdés’s acoustics, I’m not sure what. There’s a glimmer of romance to it.

She glows strongest on ‘Little Did I Know,’ the first single she’s ever released. (She’s only actually released four singles to date, and one is a mesmerizing cover of Gwen Stefani and Akon’s ‘Sweet Escape.’)

Listening to it makes me think, you know what? Maybe I do have the patience to meditate. Maybe I could just sit here, her voice flowing around me, the guitar feeding my mind, and think for awhile. Or not think at all! It’s similar to the way ‘Slow Burn’ by Kacey Musgraves makes me feel. Give it a listen:

A Shoutout to Nathan Micay’s Music Supervision on HBO’s ‘Industry’

It’s hard for a television show to be great without careful attention to music. Smart music supervision is kind of like the Astroglide (I’m sorry) of great TV, guiding the viewer in and out of scenes (I’m actually really sorry for this metaphor) with ease and panache.

What is Insecure without braggadocious rap interludes or the rich pulse of R&B? Or Succession without sweeping orchestral strings and a Big Showbiz™ score?

(By the way, the Insecure season 2 soundtrack is actually absurd. It’s an elite collection of r&b and hip-hop and rap that I go back to all the time. I’m pasting it below.)

The most recent meshing of music and screen that I’ve encountered and enjoyed has been on HBO’s Industry.

Following recent graduates through the harrowing initial months of work at fictitious bank Pierpoint in London, the show lives off of slutty adrenaline rushes, dramatic power plays and frantic mood swings. The show is one part corporate venom, one part horny and one part cocaine. After every episode on my binge, I felt extremely manic and had to either keep watching (hair of the dog…) or, like, cold-email people for networking opps (not something I enjoy doing usually).

Industry' Mixes Business With Pleasure, but the Latter Wins Out - The Ringer

A huge factor in why the show works so well, conveying such a volatile workplace and culture of avoiding burnout by going on a bender on a Tuesday night, is the music. Think exuberant house, fucked-up 5 AM techno, glitch-y genre-less gore and sobering pop/r&b.

Nathan Micay is in charge of music for Industry, and I just want to hold some space to thank him for his work on this show. Some of his own music is woven into the show, too, which is really cool. The surreal highs of party scenes, the fraught, tense moments within the pressure-cooker office, the crushing lows through each main character’s story arcs– these would not have the gut-punch emphasis that they have without the music.

So, thanks, Nathan! Seriously, amazing job. Everyone should watch Industry, it’s addicting and awful and amazing all at once. In the meantime, I urge you to put the show’s playlist on. Whether you have a shit ton of work to do or you just want to inject some mania into your day, this one’s for you.

Newcomer Darian Chen Talks ‘TESLA’ and Jumping Between Edmonton and a Remote Mountain Village in China

21-year-old Darian Chen splits his time between Edmonton, Canada, and a remote mountain village in China called Anhai.

Darian is FaceTiming me from Edmonton, where it’s snowing and face-burningly frigid. He tells me he needed some fresh air, regardless of the cold, because he was cooking fish in his apartment and ended up burning it.

The origin story of his new song, ‘TESLA,’ produced by his friend BQ, is also pretty gross. While staying in a youth hostel in China, his roommate made a ~deposit~ in the toilet, only to realize the toilet wouldn’t flush. Without skipping a beat, she picked up her ~excretion~ and tossed it out of the window, hence the euphemistic lyric, ‘you took a log and threw it on my car.’

Disgusting origin stories aside, the track opens with orchestral strings before dropping the listener into a dark, distorted production. Chen’s vocals are restrained on the verses, but he dodges in and out of the chorus with agility. On the final verse, the chorus repeats itself into implosion, fading out in combination with what Chen describes as a ‘coked-out synth solo.’

It’s a fun track, the verses something you might hear Billie Eilish whisper over and the tumbling chorus the kind of party pulse not dissimilar from The Weeknd‘s latest album. (Shout out The Weeknd and an album that should’ve racked up a bunch of Grammy noms!)

Chen, who first ventured into music as a kid, his parents putting him into piano lessons. In high school, he began getting into jazz and then making jazz-inspired beats, which led to the space he’s in now creating popular music.

Chen says his biggest inspirations include Michael Jackson, Prince and Ryiuchi Sakamoto. While he admits his music doesn’t exactly resemble them, he loves pop stars who push the envelope of what’s possible.

“When I was younger, I was elitist about it,” says Chen. “I was like, ‘pop music is not cool.'”

“But then later on I realized I was being kind of a dick about it, and secretly I’d enjoyed pop music all along. My guilty pleasure was listening to 1989 by Taylor Swift, the record with ‘Blank Space’ on it; my transition into admitting I liked pop and then making it wasn’t exactly smooth, but it happened over time.”

While he might’ve turned his nose up at the concept of pop early on, now it’s the realm he plays in artistically. His unique set-up, which includes bouncing back and forth between snowy Canada and rural China, gives him an interesting angle to approach his song-making process.

“When I’m in Canada, or anywhere in the West really, the music and sounds I hear feel very familiar, in a good way. With EP 2020, the project I put out before ‘Tesla,’ I wanted to explore sounds I wasn’t as familiar with, though. I was in China, in this mountain village where my dad’s family grew up, and I went to these ritual and temple ceremonies to absorb that culture.”

“I don’t want to like, play this cliche card, but since I’m Chinese I definitely wanted to be in tune with that part of me. So I wanted my first EP to blend the Western sounds I was familiar with and the sounds of where I’m from in China that I was really getting in touch with.”

Chen says that while the pandemic has helped give him time to sit down and write and produce, he’s all about collaborations, and he misses being more in-touch with the community, especially his friends back in China.

“I have these friends in China who are working on this hyperpop project, and I wish I could be there collabbing with them.”

Find Darian Chen on streaming services like Spotify, and follow him on Instagram @darianjch for new music updates on his journey.

The God-Tier Pop Eargasms

We all have our favorite pop eargasms. What makes an eargasm is not dextrous songwriting, complex verses or a skillful song structure. A song does not have to be envelope-pushing or exceptionally crafty to be addictive; I’m strictly talking about music that sounds so good it renders you speechless. We’re talking about sonic bliss. An ear full of ambrosia. Audible nectar.

When I listen to an eargasm, I get completely lost in the song. I’m not paying attention to the words, but rather how the words roll through an artist’s teeth and how their voice and the song’s production expand within my skull. My eyebrows furrow and I move my body because there’s no other way for me to express just how much I fucking love a good eargasm pop track. These kinds of songs force me to repeat over and over to whoever is in the room with me or whoever I’m texting, “This song is so fucking good!” And then three days later I send that same text to the same person because I forgot I had already done it.

But my brain is screaming at me to do more! Shove the song down everyone else’s throats!!! So I’m writing this post, a collection of pop music’s god-tier eargasms, my favorite catchy hook-y melodic bops, a group of superlatively satisfying anthems.

THIS IS NOT EXHAUSTIVE! Please enjoy it at your own discretion.

Find U Again – Mark Ronson ft. Camila Cabello

Camila has a racist past and I don’t care for her whatsoever on a personal level, but this track on Mark Ronson’s last album is absurd. It gets right down to business by leading the track with the chorus.

Changes – Lauv

Lauv is someone I might throw into the ‘bland radio pop’ bag if I didn’t hear this vulnerable gem of a song. While he might be hit-or-miss overall, something about the chords gives me chills, and he takes adversity and makes it refreshingly relatable without it coming off as cliche or gauche.

Delete Forever – Grimes

I don’t know if Grimes will ever top this track (though I want to think it’s possible). The stripped-down, acoustic route that she takes with this song, despite her extremely futuristic aura and penchant for cosmic, punchy production, was absolutely the right choice. Fucking gorgeous!

Sweet Spot – Kim Petras

Kim Petras churns out earworms at an alarming rate, and while I hate to put a song on here that Dr. L*ke touched, it’s never not in my head.

Treasure Island – Azealia Banks

The airy, bouncy production on this track and a head-in-the-clouds chorus are exceptional.

Greyson Chance’s cover of ‘Paparazzi’

14-year-old closeted me LIIIIVED for this rendition of ‘Paparazzi.’ If I’m ever drunk and in a YouTube spiral, I am sure to pull this up and sing along.

Cheating On You – Charlie Puth

I’m noticing that a lot of these tracks go STRAIGHT into ridiculous catchy production and this is no exception. The note Charlie hits and then holds in the bridge is EARGASMIC but the track as a whole hits my brain in a beautiful way.

Claws – Charli XCX

Thank god Charli made a quarantine album (I think she was the first major artist to do one fully in quar). This song is absolutely fucking hypnotic, the ‘juicy just like clementines’ verse (second verse) is absolutely everything, and Dylan Brady (of 100 gecs) nails the production.

…Ready For It? – Taylor Swift

The whole track is very fun and this has become my favorite Taylor album, but the pre-chorus… UNREALISTIC! My face melts off, it’s beautiful.

Break Free – Ariana Grande

Can you say ultimate maximalist Ariana Grande pop queen legendaric…. Zedd did not have to go this hard on the production and the bridge into final chorus makes me want to break through my apartment’s drywall.

Time Flies – Rico Nasty

I love when Rico is on her pop star game, this is so great and extremely amped up.

Immaterial – SOPHIE (Nicki Minaj ‘Anaconda’ mashup)

Okay so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that SOPHIE and Nicki Minaj are an iconic hypothetical collab. Shoutout SoundCloud user chordio for this bonkers mashup that will make you want to EXPLODE with energy and power. Also the reimagined cover art is iconic.

Bottom Bitch – Doja Cat

Doja Cat with a 2000s alternative-sounding track that is extremely fucking satisfying to listen to. I was today-years-old when I learned she actually sampled a Blink-182 track, taking the guitar riff from ‘What’s My Age Again?’ and slowing it/transposing it down. Which makes a lot of sense and I should’ve just Googled it when I first heard the song and immediately thought “this is Blink-182 vibes!”

What are your fav pop eargasms??