Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, RM and Anderson .Paak team up for a joyful cut from the BTS leader’s debut album.
In June of this year, BTS released “Yet to Come,” a personal, old-school hip-hop track, and their first Korean-language single since 2020’s “Life Goes On.” To celebrate the release of their massive anthology album, PROOF, the band shared three of the songs live from the Las Vegas desert, with Anderson .Paak joining on drums for the performance of “Yet to Come.” While the members of BTS clearly love the song, and the backup singers take us all to church, it’s .Paak who seems truly overjoyed, unable to contain the grin on his face throughout the recording.
Plenty has changed between now and then — “PROOF Live” was released the day before the members of BTS would officially introduce their second chapter, a time focused primarily on solo material; it would be a few months later, following a concert with all seven members in the South Korean city of Busan, that the members would confirm their decision to complete their country’s compulsory military service.
On Friday, December 2nd, RM (the leader of the group) released his solo entry, following months of albums and single releases from his fellow members. Indigo is the work of a true writer — as RM is responsible for the majority of lyrical and composition responsibilities for BTS, his style has evolved, shifted, and strengthened over the past decade. It’s also a collaboration-heavy record, with all but two tracks bringing in other names. There are plenty of highlights on Indigo, and moments for those drawn to ballads and hip-hop alike; the record begins with a feature from Erykah Badu, and the lead single features South Korean vocalist youjeen.
RM is a noted art lover, and the album’s second track, “Still Life,” is a playful take on the classic painting style. It’s here that RM brings Anderson .Paak back for another outing, and the drummer, vocalist, and Silk Sonic member seems as thrilled to be returning to the world of BTS as he did the first time he linked up with the group. “Still life, can’t lock me in the frame, I’m moving,” he sings on the chorus. An addictive bass line anchors the track, punctuated by a choir of background vocals and light horns.
There’s a bit of a dichotomy to the track, which is about reclaiming autonomy when living a life that’s incredibly on display, but things ultimately tilt towards a positive side with RM and .Paak taking the optimistic route. “Shit happens in life, but what happens is what happens, you know what I’m saying?” RM asks during the bridge. “It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be bro,” .Paak confirms. When things are moving nonstop, “Still Life” makes the chaos seem fun.
— Mary Siroky
PinkPantheress – “Boy’s a liar”
“Did you ever want me? Was I ever good enough?” asks PinkPantheress on her new song, “Boy’s a liar.” It’s not surprising that the UK singer, songwriter, and producer has found a way to imbue some real vulnerability in an otherwise slick and candy-coated arrangement, complete with a keyboard line that sounds lifted from a 2007 Nokia flip phone. But PinkPantheress thrives in this kind of sound, always keeping her songs at a rapid pace and packing them with dance-worthy hooks. “Boy’s a liar” is another terrific example of how much PinkPantheress is able to accomplish on a song that barely crawls over the 2 minute mark, and it may just be impossible to get out of your head. — Paolo Ragusa
Strawberry Fuzz – “Wasting My Time”
Strawberry Fuzz have arrived, and they’re sick of people wasting their time. The LA indie punk quartet has shared a blistering new track, “Wasting My Time,” and it’s a great representation of their high-octane, fuzz-forward style. Guitarist Alex Arias, whose sister Etta Friedman plays in Momma, is the producer of the track, and he nails the band’s gritty, full-throttle energy right on the head — “Wasting My Time” may be simple, but it’s impeccably produced, and it sounds like the work of a band completely in their element. If you’re a fan of FIDLAR, surf punk, or straight up visceral guitar tones, then Strawberry Fuzz is right up your alley. — P.R.
Tropical Fuck Storm – “The Golden Ratio”
Tropical Fuck Storm were never exactly hinged, but it seems like, with every release, the Australian art-punk weirdos make a conscious decision to become increasingly unhinged. Just months after the wildness of their Moonburn EP, the gang is back with “The Golden Ratio,” a track that takes the chaos to a new level. The production is considerably more aggressive and in your face, with frontman Garreth Lillard’s vocals sounding dirtier than ever. The vibrato-heavy, blistering guitars are, of course, present as well, this time paired with a danceable programmed drum beat. All of which leads fans to ask, do they not have hinges in Australia? — Jonah Krueger
Divorce – “That Hill”
Rising Nottingham indie rockers Divorce may only have four released songs to their name, but damn are they good. “That Hill” might be their softest effort yet, but it manages to stay just as enthralling as its three predecessors. Falling somewhere between ’90s slacker-rock and angular-folk, the expressive guitar work and vocal harmonies alone warrant umpteenth relistens. As they continue to turn heads, Divorce have already proven they’re more than capable of being indie fans’ next obsession. — J.K.
AJJ, Laura Stevenson – “The Baby Panda”
Harkening back to their Christmas Island days, folk-punk turned power-pop cult icons (and new Hopeless Records signees) AJJ offer up another slice of their signature brand of “garbage-pop” with “The Baby Panda.” At less than two minutes in runtime, the tune gets right to the point, hooking listeners with an ear-worm melody as soon as they hit play. The lyrics similarly forgo any dilly-dallying, blasting the lack of meaningful action against climate change and other ecological disasters. And really, what’s more AJJ than singing “you fucked the sun out of the sky and now there’s none of it left” over an energetic, catchy-as-hell instrumental? — J.K.
Sylo – “Drop a Pin”
There’s a quality to R&B artist Sylo’s voice that makes it feel like he’s in the room with the listener. Accompanied by just a gentle guitar on “Drop a Pin,” the artist’s latest is an intimate attempt to hold onto a moment as it’s in the process of vanishing. The single arrives ahead of an upcoming EP, blanket, due January 11th. For anyone who might’ve rode the wave of his simmering “Ginny,” “Drop a Pin” promises more moody, vocal-forward cuts in store. — M. Siroky
Alec Benjamin – “Paper Crown”
Some artists have a hard time looking back at their past work, always tuning an eye to the horizon and preferring not to linger on fan favorites. Alec Benjamin, thankfully, is not one of those artists. He’s officially re-released a cut off his 2018 mixtape Narrated For You, “Paper Crown,” which is frequently requested at the singer-songwriter’s live shows. Appropriately, the newly unveiled studio version arrives today with a new lyric video composed of moments Benjamin has spent on the road playing to the very fans hoping to hear the song for themselves. — M. Siroky
Top Songs Playlist: