Lovely, Y: Mariah Carey, Khalid, and Kirk Franklin, “Fall in Love at Christmas” - Move over, “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” there’s another Mariah Carey-penned contender coming for your wig... is not something anyone will say after hearing Carey’s new collaboration with Khalid and Kirk Franklin. “Fall in Love at Christmas” sounds less like a future classic in the making than just a solid adult R&B outing with gospel inflections. It has a retro sensibility, but more along the lines of Boyz II Men’s 1993 disc Christmas Interpretations than A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. As with Carey’s most recent album, Caution, I get a strong sense of self-assuredness here—this is R&B from a master of the genre, who’s doing what she loves and is best at. Everyone, but Carey in particular, sounds just happy be here, which is as it should be for Christmas. —Rich Juzwiak
I mean, what do you think?: Bella Thorne and Juicy J, “In You” - My good friend Bella Thorne is rapping alongside absolute legend Juicy J. This seems unfair given her, uh, limitations (her rather flat, practically timid flow makes Woah Vicky sound like Queen Latifah). I kind of enjoy that she’s rapping in one setup with her face framed by legs, as if she’s taking a break from cunnilingus. Also, her executive realness blazer with no shirt underneath is cute. She’s fun to watch. I stand by our friendship. —RJ
No, but I’m happy for them, I guess: Blake Shelton, “We Can Reach the Stars” - When Blake Shelton married Gwen Stefani, they said that they would write their own vows. Blake elected to compose a song, and that is what this is. “We Can Reach the Stars” isn’t much—a chorus with nothing else attached to it, really, but I suppose a wedding isn’t the best time to really roll out new music, as it takes the focus away from the nuptials at hand. Though America’s worst couple clings to that title in my mind, I will let Blake have his moment with a woman that appears to be the love of his life. —Megan Reynolds
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes: Shame, “This Side of the Sun” - Okay, I’ve long been the sole Shame stan at Jezebel, and that hasn’t changed. Neither has my enthusiasm for every new release by one of the most exciting new(ish) rock acts around. But I’m also honest, and my honest take is that this new track... slaps. The sound is definitely a continuation of what they were aiming for in their last album, Drunk Tank Pink, which came out earlier this year: post-punk revival with a new wave twang to it. That said, it’s the lyrics that really hit with this track. Lead singer Charlie Steen’s ever-so-isolated vocals lilting, “I give myself away, every day, to everyone I meet” was enough of a whewwww. But what followed was this kicker: “And you tear yourself apart, for your art, and wonder why you can’t sleep... you can only dream.” I really didn’t need to be dragged like this first thing on a Friday morning, but okay.
And to top it all off is the charming visualizer Shame have got going here. I usually find them deeply boring, but this one features Steen literally just smoking a cigarette on an exercise bike in the rain for two minutes and 47 seconds. That I can fuck with, but it’s also the most British thing I’ve ever seen in my goddamn life. —Ashley Reese