Best New Song: Blake Shelton, “God’s Country”
Nothing makes a sweeter comeback than an undeniably great song. “God’s Country” is Blake’s best single in years. It’s a raw and rousing track steeped in the early fusions of rock and country. This is a song that celebrates the working man and dedication to the holiness of American land. “God’s Country” is elevated by thunderous guitar riffs and a powerful vocal performance from Blake. The track is also very well mixed, the sound envelopes the listener in Blake’s faith and conviction. Score: 8/10
Best New Album: Amidst the Chaos, Sara Bareilles
Tayla Parx (We Need to Talk, review here) and Khalid (Free Spirit, review here) both released undeniably great albums this past week. Nevertheless, Sara Bareilles’ Amidst the Chaos was the strongest new record of the past week. Sara has consistently delivered strong singer/songwriter fare for the past decade or so. On Chaos, Sara leans into her recent forays into musical theatre (Waitress; Jesus Christ Superstar!) and builds a safe haven for herself in the turmoil of the real world. While her last album was a celebration of love and bliss, Chaos is painfully aware of the horrors of America. The album’s politics are covertly intertwined throughout the record (“Miss Simone”; “A Safe Place to Land”) and her vocal performances are nuanced and expertly controlled. Score: 8.5/10
Lil Nas X “Old Town Road (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus) [Remix]”
As if the original country-trap song wasn’t infectious enough, this new update, featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, is even better. Cyrus adds another verse (“Hat down, cross town, livin’ like a rockstar/ Spent a lot of money on my brand new guitar”) that is even more enjoyable. The two stars duet on the opening chorus and have endless amounts of fun.
BLACKPINK, “Kill This Love”
K-Pop comebacks are always an event, and BLACKPINK’s latest was worth the wait. “Kill This Love” isn’t nearly as instant as “Whistle” or “DDU-DU DDU-DU,” but the marching band-influenced track eventually grows on the listener. “Kill This Love” is a bombastic song, everything about it is loud and unapologetic. Most importantly, it’s a ton of fun to listen to.