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TRACK REVIEW: The band’s latest is quintessential Nasty Cherry – but also sadly lackluster.

For a while, Nasty Cherry was one of the most enigmatic names in music.  The moniker first got on most people’s radar via Charli XCX’s social media accounts.  Charli talked about Nasty Cherry a lot.  But the band didn’t have any music out, so the hype was confusing for most fans.

Of course, in hindsight it all makes sense.  Nasty Cherry is an all-girl pop/rock band formed by XCX as a sort of music-industry-plant-experiment / girl-power music startup.  The band’s formation, songwriting process, and personal dramas were all documented in a Netflix Original Series, also created by Charli.  (It was in this show that drummer Debbie Knox-Hewson casually revealed that she is queer.)

The band’s debut EP was released alongside the first – and so far, only – season of that show, (although three of the five tracks had been previously released as singles).

Nasty Cherry – Season 1 EP. Album art courtesy of Atlantic Records Press

What was frustrating about that release wasn’t that it was bad, it wasn’t, but that it was almost really good.  The songs are basically well-written and they’re definitely stylish, sounding like a bouncier Sky Ferreira.  The whole EP basically fell into the same category – the songwriting, instrumentation and production all sounded correct, but not necessarily very exciting or inspired.

Now, Nasty Cherry is back for another round, releasing the single ‘Shoulda Known Better’.  So far, this second era of music is being released sans-TV-show, but who knows if that will last or not, Season 2 could still be coming.  The single still isn’t bad, and it still sounds like Sky Ferreira – but it also still sounds like the work of a band with potential more than that of a band at their peak.

Nasty Cherry – Shoulda Known Better. Single art courtesy of Atlantic Records Press

It kicks off with some grungy guitars, which are overpowered by some poppy vocals and synths within seconds.  The first verse ends with a genuinely great drum fill that hints at a huge, 80’s-style chorus that unfortunately never materializes.

The mile-a-minute chorus that actually comes instead is an unexpected twist, and it probably seemed like a really fun idea on paper.  In actuality, it feels like a letdown on the preceding build.  It’s hard to not want that huge chorus at some point, but the song ends without it ever happening.  (Oddly, this is the exact same problem that their premiere single ‘Win’ suffered from – drawn out, masterful build with little payoff.)

Nasty Cherry. Courtesy of Atlantic Records Press.

None of this means that Nasty Cherry doesn’t still have the potential to be a really incredible band.  Their ideas are good, and their sound is (almost) as stylish as their Instagram feed.  But it seems like fans will have to wait a little bit longer for them to fully deliver on that potential.

Take a listen to ‘Shoulda Known Better’ here, and then let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!  Do you agree with my assessment, or did I get it all wrong? I wanna know!

FEATURE: Ms. Minaj probably had good intentions, but the message here is damaging and dangerous.

On Friday, Doja Cat released a remix of her undeniable bop “Say So” featuring the Queen of Rap Nicki Minaj herself.  But what should have been a sure hit within the queer community quickly became contentious as people began discussing one specific lyric from Nicki’s first verse.

“Used to be bi,” she says.  “But now I’m just hetero”.  Okay, yikes.

Nicki Minaj
Doja Cat

The response was swift.  On Twitter, many fans quickly called out the lyrics as homophobic. But others felt that Nicki was just expressing her personal experience, and the line was therefore unproblematic.

Okay, but here’s the thing.  This lyric is for sure – undeniably, there is no doubt – homophobic.  Let’s lay it all out.

First, bisexuals – and especially bisexual women – face a unique challenge even among queer people.  Regularly, bisexual identities are questioned, forgotten and misrepresented in a way other sexual orientations are not.  Bisexual individuals in same-sex partnerships are thought of as gay.  Bisexual individuals in opposite-sex partnerships are thought of as straight.  Bisexual individuals in any partnership (or no partnership at all) are so often characterized as selfish, confused, or just going through a phase.  For Nicki to use her significant platform to further this incorrect and damaging narrative is disappointing at best.

Secondly, the lyric is a misrepresentation of how sexual orientations even work.  It is true that sexuality (and gender identity etc.) can be very fluid.  Most individuals experience a range of attractions throughout the course of their lives and that is normal.  It is very possible that Nicki’s sexual attractions have a fluidity to them.  Her sexuality is no one’s business but her own to explore, speculate about, or share with the public.  Regardless of what may or may not be Nicki’s personal experience, though, sexual fluidity is not – and should not be characterized as – a shift from bisexuality to heterosexuality.  Sexual fluidity is a complicated subject deserving of a longer examination than it can be given here, but to reduce it to a conversion from queerness to straightness is incorrect and dangerous.

It is worth acknowledging as well that individuals to change and mature over time.  Perhaps Nicki identified as bisexual at one time but has grown to feel that it is inappropriate for her to claim that identity.  However, a change of heart of that nature has no place being the punchline of a joke in a pop song.  Additionally, Nicki has a history of problematic explanations of her own sexuality.  According to Rolling Stone, Nicki herself claimed that she initially identified as bisexual ‘for the attention’.  Again, yikes.

Over the years, Nicki has spoken out as an LGBTQIA+ ally.  She cancelled a concert in Saudi Arabia out of solidarity for the queer community of that country.  She has often acknowledged the important role that gay men in particular play in her fanbase.  She was a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

It seems like too great of a leap to say that Nicki herself is homophobic because of this line.  Rather than being malicious, it is more likely that rhyme comes from a place of miseducation and misunderstanding.  That does not mean that it does not deserve to be called out for the dangerous rhetoric that it is.

What do you think?  Does the lyric strike you as problematic too?  As always, the comment section is open, so share your thoughts below.

As a postscript: It should also be mentioned that both the original and the remix versions of ‘Say So’ carry a production credit for ‘TYSON TRAX’ – a new pseudonym used by alleged-Kesha-Abuser Dr. Luke.  The purpose of this article is not to debate the morality (or lack thereof) of consuming Dr. Luke’s content, but it is a point worth making regardless.

PLAYLIST: These are my picks for the 101 Top Tracks of 2019. Yes, I know it’s April 2020. Thank you. Shh.

At the end of every year, I curate a list of my personal picks for the 101 Top Tracks of the year.  Obviously, we are halfway through 2020, so it makes no sense to publish that list now, but I am doing it anyway.  The world is in chaos, and everyone needs good music.

Not every artist on this playlist is a member of the LGBTQIA+ family (although many are), this is just a list of 101 damn good songs to hopefully cheer you up in the coming days.

If you really feel like going back to ancient history, check out this list of recommended tracks from 2018 as well.

Andrew Henderson’s 101 Top Tracks of 2019:

  1. OH DANG DANG – Kopps Non-album single
  2. Get Around It – Midi Matilda Non-album single
  3. I Don’t Wanna Know – Charli XCX Charli
  4. Gimme – BANKS III
  5. fallen alien – FKA Twigs MAGDALENE
  6. Gone – TR/ST The Destroyer Vol. 1
  7. Jerome – Lizzo Cuz I Love You
  8. The One – Betty Who Betty
  9. Picture Me Better – Weyes Blood Titanic Rising
  10. Orange Trees – MARINA Love + Fear
  11. 800 db cloud – 100 gecs 1000 gecs
  12. Rich, White, Straight Men – Kesha Non-album single
  13. Queen of the Rodeo – Orville Peck Pony
  14. Blood of the Fang – clipping. There Existed an Addiction to Blood
  15. Borderline – Florrie Non-album single
  16. bad idea – Ariana Grande thank u, next
  17. Pang – Caroline Polachek Pang
  18. Talk – Two Door Cinema Club False Alarm
  19. Play – Betta Lemme Non-album single
  20. Love Goes On – Hannah Diamond Reflections
  21. Slide Away – Miley Cyrus Non-album single
  22. Borderline – Tame Impala The Slow Rush
  23. Hit the Back – King Princess Cheap Queen
  24. Lightning – Bag Raiders feat. The Kite String Tangle Horizons 
  25. Taste – Donatachi feat. Genes Taste
  26. Do Me – Kim Petras Clarity
  27. Devil is a Lie – Adia Victoria Silences
  28. Adam & Steve – Dorian Electra Flamboyant
  29. New Love Cassette – Angel Olsen All Mirrors
  30. Everything He Needs – Carly Rae Jepsen Dedicated
  31. Love Me Wrong – Allie X feat. Troye Sivan Cape God
  32. The Other Side – Drab Majesty Modern Mirror
  33. Concrete Angel – Hannah Diamond Reflections
  34. Dear Jealousy – MIKA My Name is Michael Holbrook
  35. money machine – 100 gecs 1000 gecs
  36. What Are We Going to Do About the Rich? – Pet Shop Boys Agenda
  37. Old Town Road (Remix) – Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus 7
  38. Serbia Drums – !!! Wallop
  39. WET – COBRAH Icon
  40. sad day – FKA Twigs MAGDALENE
  41. BITE ME – Kilo Kish Redux
  42. Downhill Lullaby – Sky Ferreira Non-album single
  43. Divine Goldmine – Lou Asril Louasril
  44. Tuesday – Malibu Ken Malibu Ken
  45. Click (No Boys Remix) – Charli XCX feat. Kim Petras & Slayyyter Non-album single
  46. I Want to Live with You – Alex Lahey The Best Luck Club
  47. Sympathy – Vampire Weekend Father of the Bride
  48. Heavenly – Cigarettes After Sex Cry
  49. Prophet – King Princess Cheap Queen
  50. Norman fucking Rockwell – Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!
  51. Sanremo – MIKA My Name is Michael Holbrook
  52. Juice – Lizzo Cuz I Love You
  53. Parachute – Caroline Polachek Pang
  54. Whiplash – Theophilus London feat. Tame Impala Bebey
  55. Want You in My Room – Carly Rae Jepsen Dedicated
  56. Lifeline – A.G. Cook Non-album single
  57. Enjoy Your Life – MARINA Love + Fear
  58. White Mercedes – Charli XCX Charli
  59. Movies – Weyes Blood Titanic Rising
  60. Obsession – Joywave Possession
  61. Goodbye Honeymoon Phase – Kitten Goodbye Honeymoon Phase
  62. God Must Be Doing Cocaine – Charlotte Lawrence Non-album single
  63. 626 Bedford Avenue – The Drums Brutalism
  64. Black Magic – Backxwash God Has Nothing to Do With This, Leave Him Out of It
  65. Ice Cream – MIKA My name is Michael Holbrook
  66. Bad Vibes – K.Flay Solutions
  67. when the party’s over – Billie Eilish WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
  68. So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings – Caroline Polachek Pang
  69. Psycho – slowthai, Denzel Curry Non-album single
  70. STFU! – Rina Sawayama SAWAYAMA
  71. Patience – Tame Impala Non-album single
  72. stupid horse – 100 gecs 1000 gecs
  73. Cross You Out – Charli XCX feat. Sky Ferierra Charli
  74. Fuck it I love you – Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!
  75. High Beams – Flume feat. HWLS & slowthai Hi This is Flume
  76. Haunted House – Sir Babygirl Crush on Me
  77. Friday’s No Fun Anymore – Kitten Goodbye Honeymoon Phase
  78. Julien – Carly Rae Jepsen Dedicated
  79. Tokyo – White Lies Five V2
  80. Unconditional – Touch Sensitive feat. Kitten Non-album single
  81. Fresh Laundry – Allie X Cape God
  82. Sea at Night – GFOTY If You Think I’m a Bitch, You Should Meet GFOTY
  83. Pretty Please – Allan Rayman Christian
  84. Boy – The Asteroids Galaxy Tour Non-album Single
  85. Hope to Die – Orville Peck Pony
  86. PrettyGirlz – WILLOW WILLOW
  87. Caroline Shut Up – Caroline Polachek Pang
  88. Young Republicans – Lower Dens The Competition
  89. Flamboyant – Dorian Electra Flamboyant
  90. Like a Kennedy – Joywave Possession
  91. mary magdalene – FKA Twigs MAGDALENE
  92. 2099 – Charli XCX feat. Troye Sivan Charli
  93. Harmony Hall – Vampire Weekend Father of the Bride
  94. The greatest – Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!
  95. Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself – Alex Lahey The Best Luck Club
  96. fReAkY 4 Life – Dorian Electra Flamboyant
  97. cellophane – FKA Twigs MAGDALENE
  98. Door – Caroline Polachek Pang
  99. Jailbreak the Tesla – Injury Reserve feat. Aminé Injury Reserve
  100. All Mirrors – Angel Olsen All Mirrors
  101. Gone – Charli XCX feat. Christine and The Queens Charli
Cover: FKA Twigs from the ‘Cellophane’ music video. Design by Andrew Henderson.

After listening to my list, be sure to pop on down to the comments and let me know what your favorite songs of 2019 were.  What did I miss on this list?  What did I include that I shouldn’t have?

TRACK REVIEW: Keiynan’s latest may not be an instant classic, but it is a great summer jam.

“Gay Street Fighter” is a lot of things you probably expected it to be.  It’s catchy, it’s about self-empowerment, its gay as fuck.  It’s also a few more surprising things.  Mainly, it’s dirty.  Like… really dirty.  I’m not sure if I wanted to hear “dick goo” rhymed with “hard for you” – but now that I have, I’m not mad at it.

Mostly, this feels like a growing-up moment for Keiynan.  Up until now, his discography consisted of mostly saccharine R&B boplets with titles like ‘Rainbow Dragon’.  Those songs weren’t bad by any means, but ‘Gay Street Fighter’ feels more like the embodiment of those tracks’ potential.

Keiynan Lonsdale. Photo by Clifford Prince King. Via Shore Fire Media.

Keiynan probably won’t ever be ranked among the world’s greatest vocalists, and that’s okay, but what he does have is style and swagger to spare.  The production work on this track by Louis Futon is great too, all bass and brass.  It feels simultaneously bouncy and badass.  And if the opening spoken-word segment is just a bit too reminiscent of the same section of Good Charlotte’s ‘Little Things’, my millennial ass will count that as a positive.

 ‘Gay Street Fighter’ may not be an instant classic, but it is a great summer jam for 2020.  And lord knows we need those right now.

Listen to ‘Gay Street Fighter’ below, and let us know what you think in the comments:

ALBUM REVIEW: SAWAYAMA is an adventurous, nostalgia-driven, genre-defying album – and Rina’s best work to date.

In an interview attached to the release of SAWAYAMA on Apple Music, Rina Sawayama said she was about halfway done with the album when she realized that it was ‘definitely about family’.  Indeed, the album has a strong thematic through-line about family, both blood and chosen, that helps to tie the entire genre-defining affair together.

The album is all over the place sonically.  That sounds like a read, but in this context it actually works.  Rina plays around with dance pop, nü-metal and much more across these thirteen tracks, but the album still has a sense of sick cohesion.  This is due mainly to an incredibly personal approach to lyric-writing that makes each song feel like just another facet of Rina’s own personality.

Additionally, even the sonic aspects aren’t as fully random as they may at first appear.  There is a distinct sense of idealized nostalgia here.  Rina clearly is inspired by the pop and rock acts of the early-to-mid 2000’s, but the album is less a recreation of those sounds as much as an homage to our collective memories of them.  This album doesn’t actually sound like Britney Spears or Evanescence or N.E.R.D.  Instead, it idealizes and modernizes those sounds in a way that still triggers those nostalgic feelings – without losing the sense of modernism and that the actual music of that era lost long ago.

Courtesy of Satellite 414 and Dirty Hit Records

Track-bi-track review

  • Dynasty – Rina called this song the ‘thesis’ of the album, and for good reason. The music is a loving, if obvious, tribute to Evanescence, but the lyrics are a much more intimate and genuine examination of emotional turmoil than that famously-angsty band ever achieved.
  • XS – This song is so fucking fun.  The contrast of the searing guitar riff against the bubblegummy pop of the rest of the song is startling and thrilling and perfect.
  • STFU! – As a lead single, this song was the perfect choice. It is bolder and badder than anything Rina had released up to that point, and it remains an album highlight.  The ‘hahahahahAAAAA’ vocal riff after the first chorus is a truly legendary moment.
  • Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys) – This song is probably the most straightforward pop on the entire album, but that’s not a bad thing.   It may not be the go-to track for demonstrating Rina’s songwriting prowess, but there is a 100% chance that this song will be lighting up the dancefloors of gay clubs around the world for years to come.
  • Akasaka Sad – Sonically, this might be the most out-there song on the album. It makes sense to follow up Comme des Garçons with something more experimental, and Akasaka Sad knocks it out of the park.  The production is absolutely nuts, but it doesn’t stop the chorus from being catchy as hell anyway.
  • Paradisin’ – It’s hard to tell if this is the greatest summer-drive bop of all time or the most insidious parody of summer-bops ever. Either way, it’s a lot of fun.  It runs through its three minutes at breakneck speed, with only the briefest interlude for a quick sax solo and some artificial crowd-screaming noises.  Its wacky and goofy, but so what?
  • Love Me 4 Me – Kicking this song off with a quote from infamous fracking-baron RuPaul Charles is one of those things that maybe seemed like a better idea on paper. Still a bop though.
  • Bad Friend – This possibly the most earnest song on the album, but sadly also one of the less exciting.  It’s not at all a bad song, though. The melody is lovely, and the production is nice…  if the album has a track that could be an actual radio hit, it’s this one.  It’s not a skip (frankly, there are no skips on this album), but by the time the choir-led bridge hits, it’s just a bit too cheese for my taste.
  • Fuck this World (Interlude) – Don’t let the ‘interlude’ tag on this one fool you, this is a full song, and quite a good one. Rina doesn’t let up on the earnestness with this one, but the production here is just so lush and luxurious, it doesn’t feel corny at all.
  • Who’s Gonna Save U Now? ­– This song is a hard-left turn back into the wild eccentricities of the first half of the album, and it is a welcome return after the three previous tracks. In the context of the album, it makes sense to place those three more serious and thematic tracks in the middle of the album, but it’s great to get back to the fun.  This song also features some of Rina’s best vocals on the whole album.
  • Tokyo Love Hotel – Here is the best example on the album of Rina’s personal and emotional songwriting being used to incredible effect. The song is toe-tapping, with a melody and production that is reminiscent of Carly Rae Jepson’s best work.  Far from an empty bop, though, the lyrics contain some of the most introspective thoughts of the entire album.  The perfect balance of those elements makes this an album highlight.
  • Chosen Family – There is no doubt that for many of Rina’s fans, especially her LGBTQIA+ fans, listening to this song will be an emotional experience.  This tribute to the idea of being able to choose one’s own family will resonate with so many.  This may not be the most experimental-sounding song on the album, but producer Danny L Harle does some of his best work creating a power-ballad moment that is simultaneously rousing and just vaguely tongue-in-cheek.
  • Snakeskin – It is an odd choice to use this song to close the album rather than, say, ‘Chosen Family’, but it is a high note to end on, nevertheless. This track features some of the most heart-pounding production, built around an instrumental that is as anthemic and orchestral as it is grimy and electronic.  The song features samples from Beethoven and the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack, so there’s really no way it was ever going to be anything less than epic.

Final Notes

SAWAYAMA isn’t a perfect album (I’m still giving that RuPaul quote some side eye), but it is a damn good one.  Rina manages to be more emotionally raw while simultaneously having more fun than she ever has before.  It is rare for a debut album to show this much musical and lyrical maturity.  With this, Rina Sawayama has effortlessly placed herself in the ranks of pop music’s best.

You can stream SAWAYAMA at the links below, and definitely tell me which tracks were your favorites in the comments.

TRACK REVIEW: 100 gecs and Dorian Electra teamed up for a catchy rework of a fan favorite.

For all but the most invested music listeners, 100 gecs’ 2019 album 1000 gecs served as an introduction to the duo’s wildly unique (and uniquely wild) sound.  The band, a partnership between experimental music titans Dylan Brady and Laura Les, has a sound that is nearly undefinable – veering from genre to genre with a reckless abandon that seems theoretically exhausting.  In actuality, the album was a rousing success, lauded by fans and critics alike.

Then, in October of last year, just a few short months after the release of 1000 gecs, the band announced that their follow-up wouldn’t be another album, but instead a remixed version of their first.  In the time since, the band has dropped a slow trickle of singles from that still-upcoming project, featuring the likes of A.G. Cook, Injury Reserve, Charli XCX, Kero Kero Bonito, Rico Nasty, and now Chicago genderfuck pop icon Dorian Electra.

The one thing that is already apparent about this remix album is that these aren’t going to just be the same songs with a bit of a danced-up beat – these tracks are dismantled, reimagined, and built back up again as something completely new.  Each of the featured artists have brought their own unique perspective to the tracks, and each one feels as authentic to their own aesthetic as it has 100 gecs’.

On this new version of “Gec 2 ü”, Dorian Electra contributes a significant portion of the vocals on the track, but that’s not the only change.  The production here eases off on the noisy distortion of the original, replacing it with a gothy, witchy techno feel that is very remnicent of Dorian’s own Flamboyant album, also released last year.  It is interesting, because 100 gecs’ own Dylan Brady did a significant amount of production work on that album as well.  It’s a lot of fun to hear him play around with bringing elements of that soundscape to his own band’s work.

The final product is insanely fun, if absolutely nonsensical.  There isn’t much of a stylistic through line here, but that is pretty standard for a 100 gecs track.  Overall, it is so much fun to hear Dorian and the gecs crew working together here.  Taken in combination with the other tracks released from the remix project so far, it seems like it’s definitely one to watch out for.  If the remix project follows the lead of the original, there should still be six more remixes to wait for.

In the meantime, you can listen to the Dorian Electra remix of “Gec 2 ü” below, and be sure to tell me what you think in the comments.

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