With song-of-summer debates on the horizon, artists released their slower, more full-hearted songs in April. If March was a month for heavy emotional hits, April has been a month for sweetening up the pain with songs like Carly Rae Jepsen's "All That" and Torres's "Cowboy Guilt."
Here are the top five songs of April:
Carly Rae Jepsen, "All That"
Carly Rae Jepsen is as sugar-sweet as pop stars come. Her 2012 mammoth hit "Call Me Maybe" was such an earworm that it spawned a wave of lip-synced videos, and the first single from her upcoming third album "I Really Like You" hit all of the same upbeat, furiously catchy notes.
"All That" takes the rhythm of those two songs and turns the dial back a few decades to a 1980s-esque, slap bass pop ballad. It has almost the same rhythm and tone as Britney Spears's 1999 "Sometimes," which is to say it's lyrically pretty weak but sonically sticky. "Show me if you want me, if I'm all that," Jepsen croons in the chorus. It's not as much of an earworm as "Call Me Maybe," but it shows a maturation in Jepsen's writing and tone that can't be dismissed easily.
U.S. Girls, "Damn That Valley"
The first single from U.S. Girls' upcoming album 4D is a shuffle-grooving, electro-popped grunge hit. "Damn That Valley" has all the wailing, echoing vocals that lead singer Meghan Remy nailed on 2012's Gem, but here they feel a bit more evolved, with a stronger vocal dissonance and backing electronica that really allow Remy's voice to soar higher than it has before.
At just over three minutes, "Damn That Valley" sounds like the underground version of a Top 40 hit. "That’s the valley that took my man from me," Remy screams in the chorus of a song with as much distress as hooking beats.
Young Thug, "Constantly Hating" (featuring Birdman)
"Constantly Hating" confronts some of the most prominent features of hip-hop and turns them on their head. Instead of hitting you with an up-front, aggressive beat, the song's bass drum feels like it's coming from another room. Rather than boasting fast-talking rap, Young Thug draws out a few melodies, keeping his vocals slower.
In contrast to his earlier work, Young Thug feels more mature here. His lyrics are more precise, his beats are thicker, and the addition of Birdman's section makes this song sound like both 1999 Lil Wayne and some hip-hop movement we haven't even encountered yet.
Torres, "Cowboy Guilt"
Torres is the artist I'm paying the most attention to in 2015. Every single she's released off her sophomore album Sprinter has been a giant leap in maturity and style. "Cowboy Guilt" takes a sharp turn from the punk-rooted "Strange Hellos" and veers deeper into singer Mackenzie Scott's personal life. It starts with a thumping bass beat, then layers in a climbing electronic melody.
"We spend our only season on a mattress sleeping / with our best friend / We drowned out winter livers with weary resignation," Scott sings mellowly, creating a kind of deep, rhythmic ballad inside the modernist sounds. Meanwhile, Scott's voice itself drowns under the beats she has created.
Samantha Urbani, "1 2 3 4"
Samantha Urbani, formerly of the band Friends, kicked out this funk-inspired pop hit on SoundCloud in early April. It's a song with the groove of an '80s pop hit and the spunk of a young Madonna. If Taylor Swift's 1989 was merely inspired by '80s pop, Urbani's "1 2 3 4" straight up is '80s pop.
There are glistening keyboards and light synths. There are strange disco drums and plenty of grooving beats that are perfect for the dance floor. In the middle of "1 2 3 4," there's an instrumental break that sounds like you're drifting under water, only to return you to fresh air with the thumping chorus and Urbani's voice swooning. It's the '80s revival we didn't know we wanted.