Mic-Check 🎵 Weekly Music Newsletter (11.15.21)

Taylor Swift re-releases legendary track. Silk Sonic’s debut album. ROSALÍA & The Weeknd duet. Polo G channels Michael Jackson.

After nearly 14 years, Britney Spears’ conservatorship has been terminated.

The death toll for Travis Scott’s tragic Astroworld Festival has reached 10 after nine-year-old Ezra Blount succumbed to his injuries.

Click here for a Spotify playlist with the songs mentioned in this story.

BIGGEST Songs of the Week 📈

Nearly a decade ago, with the release of her album Red, Taylor Swift became a bonafide pop star, leaving her country roots behind. Earworms like We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and I Knew You Were Trouble took over our collective psyche, but true fans knew that the heart of Red lied on the tortured ballad All Too Well, a track about a soured romance which the singer can’t seem to forget. Chosen as the fifth greatest song of the 2010s by Rolling Stone, All Too Well is Taylor’s personal favorite from her own catalogue. Fans have long mythologized the song, believing that a recording of the original version exists, an ad-lib clocking in at a marathon length of 10 minutes.

In 2019, Taylor announced plans to re-record her first six studio albums in an effort to control her masters. This past weekend, she shared the 2.0 version of Red, alongside nine bonus tracks, including the fabled 10-minute variant of All Too Well. Delivered with the wisdom only granted after a lifetime of heartbreak, the extended track has the untouched lyrics penned by a wide-eyed, 22-year old Taylor. More vulnerable and nuanced than the original version, the 10- minute song continues to prove why Taylor is the greatest songwriter of her generation (“You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath”).

To coincide with the album’s release, Taylor shared a self-directed, Oscar-worthy short film for All Too Well, starring Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink. She “paralyzed” time the following evening on Saturday Night Live with a mesmerizing 10-minute act, the longest musical performance in Saturday Night Live’s illustrious 47 year history.

1. Taylor Swift, All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Soft Rock) 👍👍👍👍

2. ROSALÍA, The Weeknd, LA FAMA (Latin Pop) 👍

3. Polo G, Bad Man (Smooth Criminal) (Trap Funk) 👍👍

4. Juice WRLD, Already Dead (Emo Rap) 😐

5. Avril Lavigne, Bite Me (Pop Punk) 👍

6. Luke Combs, Doin’ This (Country) 👍👍

7. Anuel AA, Leyenda (Latin Trap) 👍

8. Little Mix, No (Dance Pop) 👍

9. Tate McRae, feel like shit (Alternative R&B) 😐

10. iann dior, Let You (Pop Rap) 😐

Noteworthy 📰

  • Beyoncé released Be Alive, her first solo song in over a year, from the upcoming Venus and Serena Williams biopic King Richard, starring Will Smith.
  • Metal band Korn previewed their upcoming project Requiem with the album’s lead single Start The Healing.
  • Rick Ross teamed up with R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan and fellow rapper 21 Savage on his latest single Outlawz.
  • On-brand, futurist Grimes has formed NPC, an AI girl group featuring an infinite number of members who can be voted in or out. The collective made their debut alongside DJ Chris Lake on A Drug From God.
  • Merlyn Wood from the experimental hip hop group BROCKHAMPTON released his first solo material, S.Y.K.
  • British rapper M.I.A., best known in the U.S. for her 2008 hit Paper Planes, mysteriously dropped a new track titled Babylon at ohmni.com.
  • Radhe Shaam, a previously unheard song from The Beatles’ George Harrison and Ringo Starr and Indian classical musician Aashish Khan was unearthed and aired for the first time on BBC Radio.
  • John Legend shared his Christmas single You Deserve It All, produced by legendary R&B songwriter Raphael Saddiq.
  • Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz fame delivered a piano-led rendition of The Human League’s 1981 classic Don’t You Want Me.
  • WATCH: To celebrate the 10th anniversary of his debut album Section.80, Kendrick Lamar performed a chronological, career-spanning set at the Day N Vegas festival, his first live performance since 2019.

BEST Songs of the Week 🔥

It’s been a global pandemic since London-based art rocker Nilüfer Yanya released her critically acclaimed debut Miss Universe. This week, she shared details of her follow-up album PAINLESS, out March 4th, and shared the project’s lead single stabilise. Underpinned by a looping guitar riff, stabilise is frenetic and propulsive. The track’s chaotic energy never wavers as Yanya’s breathy voice adds to the post-punk style sonics. Stereogum aptly compared the single to Radiohead’s Weird Fishes, but on speed.

1. Taylor Swift, All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Soft Rock) 👍👍👍👍

2. Nilüfer Yanya, stabilise (Post Punk) 👍👍👍👍

3. Mitski, The Only Heartbreaker (New Wave) 👍👍👍

4. Shamir, Cisgender (Synthpop) 👍👍👍

5. Lucy Dacus, Thumbs Again (Indie Folk) 👍👍👍

6. Beach House, Superstar (Dream Pop) 👍👍👍

7. Smino, NOS., I Deserve (Alternative R&B) 👍👍👍

8. Jenny Hval, Jupiter (Art Pop) 👍👍👍

9. Pinegrove, Alaska (Alternative Country) 👍👍

10. Amber Mark, Softly (Contemporary R&B) 👍👍

Honorable Mention: Confidence Man, Holiday (Alternative Dance) 👍👍

Albums Spotlight 💿

Silk Sonic, the smoothest duo in music, have finally released their debut album, An Evening With Silk Sonic. The superteam’s origins date back to 2017 when Anderson .Paak, fresh off the release of Malibu, opened for Bruno Mars on his 24K Magic tour. The pair connected over a shared appreciation for classic Motown R&B and Philly soul.

Silk Sonic is not alone in their admiration for 70’s music — over the last two years, there’s been a significant disco renaissance — but unlike many of their pop contemporaries, Silk Sonic avoids nostalgic trappings by crafting a meticulous and compelling project which dives deep into the era. With clear inspirations from greats like Bobby Womack, George Clinton, and the Blue Notes, An Evening With Silk Sonic transports listeners to a time of tube socks, roller skates, and lava lamps.

A love letter to the 70s, An Evening With Silk Sonic showcases the unworldly chemistry between .Paak and Mars as the two push each other to new heights while playfully sparring in a game of tongue-in-cheek wits. The album’s only flaw is it’s not long enough to actually last an entire ‘evening’.

Silk Sonic, An Evening With Silk Sonic (Smooth Soul) 👍👍👍👍

  • Favorite Tracks: Smokin Out The Window, Leave The Door Open, After Last Night, Fly As Me

Taylor Swift, Red (Taylor’s Version) (Pop Rock) 👍👍👍

  • Favorite Tracks: All Too Well (10 Minute Version), State Of Grace, Treacherous, Red

dltzk, Frality (Glitch Pop) 👍👍👍

  • Favorite Tracks: kodak moment, search party, let’s go home, champ

IDLES, CRAWLER (Post Punk) 👍👍

  • Favorite Tracks: The Beachland Ballroom, Car Crash, MTT 420 RR, The Wheel

Courtney Barnett, Things Take Time, Take Time (Indie Rock) 👍👍

  • Favorite Tracks: Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To, Here’s The Thing, Before You Gotta Go, Rae Street

Other Notable Projects: Aesop Rock & Blockhead Garbology, Beach House Once Twice Melody [EP], DaBaby Back On My Baby Jesus Sh!t AGAIN [EP], Damon Albarn The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows, Eric Clapton The Lady In The Balcony: Lockdown Sessions (Live), Jon Hopkins Music For Psychedelic Therapy, Kanye West Donda (Deluxe), Rod Stewart The Tears Of Hercules, Sega Bodega Romeo, They Might Be Giants BOOK, TWICE Formula of Love: O+T=❤

WORST Song of the Week 🗑️

Code Orange, Out For Blood (Industrial Metal)

Next week: After a six year wait, Adele releases 30, her 4th studio album.

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