Friday Five: Frank Ocean's timely love story, Orville Peck's cloudless new tune, and more
Here are the five best songs of the week.
Every Friday, EW's music team runs down the five best songs of the week. In today's edition, Frank Ocean graces us with his presence, Orville Peck romps through the pasture, Diana Gordon blends trap and grunge, M. Ward makes a Saturn-inspired country-western ballad, and Waxahatchee covers Caroline Polachek.
"Dear April" — Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean is the lone pop star whose infrequent song drops feel like buried treasure. Two "new" singles, "Cayendo" and "Dear April," hit streaming services this week ("new," because Ocean technically debuted them back in 2019, at his club residency). Though they both serve as showcases for Ocean's evocative and experimental approach to R&B, it's the latter song that feels particularly poignant at this moment in time: a tale of watching "two strangers" with "two strange lives" come together and change one another forever. "Dear April, we were safe for a while/We were safe as the years flew by," he sings over a light guitar and synth line. Ocean then poses a question — "Dear April, are you watchin' him dance?" — as the song ends abruptly, leaving us to experience a few seconds of silence by ourselves. Timely indeed. —Alex Suskind
"Summertime" — Orville Peck
Country music needed a win. Over the last two weeks we've lost Kenny Rogers and Joe Diffie, and we're holding our collective breath while John Prine battles COVID-19. But Orville Peck's cloudless new tune provides a much-needed respite. The mysterious Canadian singer-songwriter's "Summertime" has him powering up his smokey baritone as he sings of better days and warmer times. Its playful video sees him dressed to the nines while romping through a pasture, being roped to a tree by sentient vines, and floating Lebowski-like over fields of rainbow flowers. Bask in it. —Eli Enis
"Wasted Youth" — Diana Gordon
Singer-songwriter Diana Gordon has already proven to be ahead of the curve. In 2009, she made the top 10 hit "Sugar" with Flo-Rida, a couple years before the rest of the pop girls started injecting EDM into their singles. Later, Gordon helped pen "Daddy Lessons" with Beyoncé, jumpstarting the black yeehaw agenda that ruled the charts last year. Gordon's latest musical bet is on herself. With this eponymous track off her new EP, Wasted Youth, she injects grunge-like singing and lyrics over a trap beat, offering a unique dynamism to an intensely relatable song about the complicated feelings of ending a long-term relationship. —Marcus Jones
"Independent Man" — M. Ward
As the title Migration of Souls suggests, M. Ward's just-released album is directly inspired by tales of border crossings (Ward has a personal stake in the subject matter; the musician's own grandfather entered the U.S. from Mexico back in the 1920s). Its songs are cut against a bleak backdrop — stories of moving through dangerous lands in the dark, of looking for paid work, of reuniting with loved ones at the end of a long journey. But there's a dream-like buoyancy them too, as evidenced by "Independent Man," a track about a migrant pining for someone left behind. Like a lulling country-western ballad recorded on Saturn, its warbling harmony, shooting-star effects, and chug-along backbeat give the titular hero's path a much-needed sense of hope. —A.S.
"So Hot You're Hurting My Feelings" — Waxahatchee
Two great tastes that taste great together. Fresh off her incredible new LP Saint Cloud, Katie Crutchfield brings her talents to a cover of Caroline Polachek's 2019 power-pop single. In tune with her own countryfied flavor of indie rock, Crutchfield turns the song more acoustic, replacing the booming synths with twangy guitar and hand percussion. But her version also manages to make the heartbreak and longing at the center of the song sound even more visceral. Polachek herself endorsed the interpretation, tweeting, "This is like if the original had a whiskey-drinking feral half-sister who just showed up on the porch asking for her husband back and I hecking love it." —Christian Holub