Kanye West, Melissa Etheridge, more: Grading the week's best (and worst) singles
Every week, EW's music staff takes a hard listen to the biggest new tracks and offers up our unfiltered opinions. Read on for reviews of new tracks by Kanye West, Melissa Etheridge, Danny Brown, and more.
Kanye West, "Saint Pablo"
Last week, Kanye West plucked The Life of Pablo from its Tidal home for yet another round of post-released tweaks, adding surprise new song "Saint Pablo" to its already mammoth tracklist. Assisted by Londoner Sampha's melancholic coo and a brooding set of minimalist production, Kanye bites into the tailspin of headline-grabbing behavior that's trailed him since the album's initial February release. "The media said it was outlandish spendin' / The media said he's way out of control / I just feel like I'm the only one not pretendin' / I'm not out of control, I'm just not in they control," he opines. If TLOP served as a brilliantly bizarre dive into Kanye's various psyches, "Saint Pablo" may be the rapper at his sanest: refreshingly self-aware and still not giving a f—. B+ –Dana Getz
Two Door Cinema Club, "Are We Ready? (Wreck)"
Alex Trimble, frontman of this Irish trio, has said his group's new single was inspired by weltschmertz, "the German word for being at odds with the world around you." But you won't find any radical new rock and roll moves here. Instead, Two Door Cinema Club crank out a mildly rousing banger amplified with post-punk guitars, a chorus of na-na-nas and Trimble's foreboding tale of groupthink that strives for the profundity of Rogers Waters with The Wall. But at least Pink Floyd had bombast, hooks, and David Gilmour's guitar solos. B- Kevin O'Donnell
Bad Sounds, "Avalanche"
Bad sounds? P'shaw. The British quintet revive the golden age of '90s Britpop with a little gem that features a host of nifty sonic tricks—layers of whirring synths, funky Clavinets, booty-shaking bass. Singer Ewan Merrett also scores with a vivid Irvine Welsh-style story of everyday folks who seemingly can't evade that black cloud above their heads. A- –Kevin O'Donnell
Nice as F—, "Door"
Jenny Lewis drops her folk tendencies in favor of slightly psychedelic rock for "Door," the first single from new supergroup Nice as F—. When the Rilo Kiley frontwoman begins singing, her vocals sound drowned out as a hypnotizing bassline backs her up. Bandmates Erika Forster (Au Revoir Simone) and Tennessee Thomas (The Like) eventually join in for some pop-punk-style gang vocals. It's fun, singalong-ready, and, yes, nice as f—. A- –Ariana Bacle
Danny Brown, "When It Rain"
Like all the best Danny Brown songs, "When It Rain" feels like strolling through the sonic equivalent of a hall full of funhouse mirrors. Hip-hop's weirdo king returned — on Warp Records, better known for its roster of outré electronic artists like Oneohtrix Point Never and Aphex Twin — with his obtuse rhymes and discordant beats, hinting that his upcoming studio effort could continue to push the boundaries he tested with 2013's Old. B+ –Eric Renner Brown
Melissa Etheridge, "Pulse"
After last weekend's shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Melissa Etheridge channeled her emotions into doing what she does best — writing a song. On "Pulse," named after the venue in which a gunman killed 49 people, the rocker responded with a beautiful song about hope and optimism. Her raw emotions are clear with such powerful lyrics like, "Everybody's got a pain inside/ Imaginary wounds they fight to hide/ How can I hate them, when everybody's got a pulse." A- –Derek Lawrence