Friday Five: Taylor Swift's seasonal cheer, Kid Cudi and Phoebe Bridgers harmonize, and more
The five best songs we heard this week.
Every Friday, EW's music team runs down the five best songs of the week. In today's edition, Kid Cudi recruits Phoebe Bridgers for his latest Man on the Moon chapter, Taylor Swift sings of a fictional old flame, Bladee trades pioneering cloud-rap flows for ethereal croons, Kamaiyah teaches us the art of war, and Thom Yorke, Burial, and Four Tet have a meeting of the brooding minds.
"Lovin’ Me” — Kid Cudi (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
Although their music doesn’t sound the same, Kid Cudi and Phoebe Bridgers share a fluency in sadness. The proto emo-rapper and the post-emo singer-songwriter both use the existentially crushing beauty of sunsets and night skies to translate the indescribable vastness of depression through song. On their “Lovin’ Me” duet from Cudi’s long-awaited Man On the Moon III: The Chosen, Cudi begs for guidance while feeling trapped in a Tantalus-like scenario where he knows he cannot grow if he can’t love himself, but he can’t make it over the first hump. In her short yet beautiful verse, Bridgers offers solace in the form of the stars above: “And I don't know why, it's alright/And it's not at the same time/Then I look up at a blue sky/And I know.” Neither of these artists sing of resolution in their music, but the joint glow of their dusky harmonies offers the type of searching relief that only atmospheric gazing can provide. —Eli Enis
"'Tis the Damn Season" — Taylor Swift
Seeing an old flame while you're visiting family is a time-honored holiday tradition. On "'Tis the Damn Season," off Taylor Swift's surprise ninth album Evermore, it gets a fully formed storyline, complete with muddy truck tires, warm beds, and past mistakes. "The holidays linger like bad perfume/You can run but only so far/I escaped it too, remember how you watched me leave," she sings over distant percussion. Like Swift's best work off Evermore — and its sister project Folklore — "Season" has a deceptively simple hook ("We could call it even/You could call me 'babe' for the weekend/'Tis the damn season, write this down"), a classic narrative, and a yearning that remains long after the tale is over. —Alex Suskind
“Rainbow” — Bladee
On his new collaborative project with the Berlin producer Mechatok, Bladee trades in his pioneering cloud-rap flows for ethereal croons that paint otherworldly imagery over these svelte club tracks. The sugary Italo-disco standout “Rainbow” features the Swedish artist cooing about taking the scenic route and truly giving oneself to the beauty of the moment. “The warm gets cold/We could be like smoke/We could go up,” he intones with a fittingly vaporous sing-song. An entire ecosystem of experimental pop-rap has been forming in the image of Bladee’s 2010s output, but a song like “Rainbow” is a dance floor-minded pivot from the celestial SoundCloud rap that his disciples are just now catching up with. —EE
"Art of War" — Kamaiyah
"You can't hold me motherf----er/you don't know me," raps Kamaiyah on "Art of War," a menacing downtempo single off her new project No Expectations. Kamaiyah subs out the usual Bay Area sonics here for a saxophone riff and plucked strings, but the Oakland rapper is still in full braggadocio mode, with warnings for anyone trying to make a move: "Imma say this once, not again little b----/you are not my folks, not my friends, little b----." —AS
"His Rope" — Burial, Four Tet, Thom Yorke
A decade after their first collaboration, Burial, Four Tet, and Thom Yorke return with a raw, tense piece of music called "His Rope." Across five-and-a-half minutes of stuttering percussion and droning sound effects, Yorke lays out a predictably gloomy scenario: "I cut a rope, step out/In an instant it's all over/I'm done." –AS