Petty is my favorite color: Taylor Swift, “Mr. Perfectly Fine” (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) - The one thing that hooked me onto Taylor when I first discovered her music in college is that her lyrics were perfectly petty. This track, which was originally cut from the Fearless album, really harkens back to Taylor’s early petty season, when she was joyfully less subtle about shading her boyfriends. The song is also surprisingly more mature than some other tracks from this same era, which would explain why it was removed from the album. I’m glad it’s been released from the vault and that my beloved Taylor has evolved into Ms. Owning My Music. - Shannon Melero
Y: Jayda G, “All I Need” - Come for the house music that simultaneously references its commercial early ‘90s strain and the rougher, basement-y take on the genre that preceded it (check that vocal reverb!). Stay for the archival rave footage from the ’90s. This one feels like it’s speaking to me directly. —Rich Juzwiak
LOL no: Gwen Stefani, “Slow Clap” ft. Saweetie - I’ve been a fan of Gwen Stefani’s music for over 20 years now, from when she was the No Doubt frontwoman with pink hair and braces, to her wannabe chola appropriation queen solo era. There has usually been something to like. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything to like about this. The song sounds like an uninspiring melange of “Rock Steady” and “Hollaback Girl,” Saweetie’s verses are overwhelmed by the instrumentals, and the video... God, this video. Gwen has long been one of the coolest women in music, but in this video it feels like she’s trying so hard to keep up and stay relevant that she just ends up looking out of place. People on social media can be unfairly scathing, but I couldn’t help but agree with the tweets that said this song sounds like a back-to-school commercial.
Tell me they’re wrong:
Face it, you can’t. —Ashley Reese
It’s Complicated: Doja Cat & SZA, “Kiss Me More” I can’t believe it’s 2021 and we are living through a whole new era of Dr. Luke—why! WHY!—and I really don’t know what to make of Doja Cat’s whole online persona, but I would lay my body on a railroad track for SZA if she asked me to (note to SZA: please don’t though), and Doja’s SONG persona is undeniable. This nasty little lullaby is delectable and the video works not only as misandrist eye candy but the general weirdo vibes I hope to harness this summer. I’ve watched it eight times today and love it and at the same time, can’t fully settle into it because of freaking Dr. Luke. I do know I’d feel a lot better if Doja found someone nonshitty to work with, particularly because there is an absolute glut of white male pop producers in this world. Why? WHY? -Julianne Escobedo Shepherd