For week 1, we sing like robots.
FRANK OCEAN – “Nikes” – as described by teddy morris-knower
(Video is NSFW, like a shit ton of nudity but definitely watch it in your house just not in class unless actually do whatever you want it’s college I warned you)
Since “Nikes” is the opening track on Frank’s third album Blonde, the very first thing you hear is not Frank’s beautiful crooning, but a high pitched autotune voice that reminded me more of J-Cole’s Lil Cole than just a pitch corrected version of Frank’s voice.
The second verse is still slightly autotuned, but is noticeably Frank’s own voice, and so the combination of the two makes for a song that contains different, but similarly emotionally tired voices questioning modern hedonism and mourning for friends lost. It’s own of those times where the vulnerability of the artist allows you to understand him and his own existential questions more, and damn the way he sings it makes you feel him.
Side note: the music video is deeply sensual, emotional, and visually beautiful.
SONGIFY THIS – “Believe in Yourself” – as described by amy chen
My brother showed me this while I was in high school. It’s a remix of another video. I know it was made as a joke but it’s also quite catchy and a pretty endearing source of motivation. Here’s to a good start of the new school year –THUMBS UP FOR ROCK AND ROLL.
Terror Jr – “Come First” – as described by viv liu
The mysteeeeeerious singer/frontwoman for pop trio Terror Jr, which premiered its hit single in Kylie Jenner’s “Glosses,” is clearly Kylie Jenner. As a disappointed once-customer of her awful LipKits and a proponent of divestment from the Kardashian-Jenner media empire, I would usually say, “Boycott this song!” or “There’s no way she can perform this live!” but, instead, the song has me hooked. The year of realizing stuff, indeed.
CHANCE THE RAPPER – “No Problem” – as described by sophia laurenzi
After hundreds of drives with this as my road anthem, I can say for sure you don’t want no problem with me (that includes you, boss who threw me shade for listening to music with “this much autotune”).
DAFT PUNK – “One More Time” – as described by alejandra salazar
Shout out to the last first day of school – wait, no, better yet, shout out to all the other less symbolic, still perfect days that we were too busy or too young or running too fast to properly celebrate. Shout out to those amazing nights that felt like infinity, even when we knew that the sun would always come back up in the end. Shout out to this goddamn perfect song. May senior year be blessed by the spirit of Discovery.
ERYKAH BADU – “Dial’Afreaq”” – as described by katie nesser
Technology is everywhere on Erykah Badu’s 2015 mixtape But You Cain’t Use My Phone. From its pesudo “Hotline Bling” cover (which improves on the already sublime original) “Cel U Lar Device” to the gorgeous Andre 3000 duet “Hello,” Erykah is sending us transmissions from Badubotron, her world where telecommunication inspires fear and fascination. Nowhere is her obsession more literal than in “Dial’Afreaq,” where her autotuned voice warns of the danger of cell phones (save the bees, y’all), then breaks down into a groove punctuated by Siri noises.
CARLY RAE JEPSEN – “Store” – as described by nikki tran
With this sparkly, can’t help but shimmy jingle, Canada’s latest tween whisperer turned reigning meme queen makes grabbing your reusable totes and trotting down the cold cuts aisle downright delightful.
BON IVER – “For Emma” – as described by leilani reyes
I like to think Bon Iver was born and raised in a recording studio in the woods. The origin of this song does not stray too far from this imagined myth – it’s the product of Justin Vernon’s introspective 3-month staycation at a rural Winconsin winter home. By juxtaposing the raw sounds of trumpets and guitars with distortions of these and of his voice, he threads human sorrow with robotic apathy, estrangement with intimacy, and melancholy with optimism. It’s a beautiful track that will either make you feel vulnerable and draped with nostalgia, or make you want to visit Vernon to give him a warm hug in the recording studio in the woods.
LIL WAYNE – “Lollipop (Remix) [feat. Kanye West]” – as described by ned hardy
Eight years ago, we didn’t know we needed a four-minute pop song in which Lil Wayne and Kanye West drown their vocals in Auto-Tune and make jokes about nacho cheese and latex condoms, but, uh, hindsight isn’t always 20/20, or whatever, so I’ll be the first to thank whatever alien powers birthed this track. I mean, I can’t even begin to quantify the amount of joy I’ve accumulated simply from hearing Wayne say “I got so much chips I swear they call me Hewlett-Packard!” as two competing synth lines burble and swell beneath him. Earth to Weezy, Weezy to Neptune. “Tell her make an appointment with Mr. I Can’t Make An Appointment,” he yelps. “Take my lollipop and enjoy it!” Signed, sealed, delivered. And “enjoy it,” we did: “Lollipop” spent five weeks atop the Hot 100. Man, 2008 was a simpler time.
ZAPP & ROGER – “Computer Love” – as described by anthony milki
I don’t really know the distinction between all the roboto effects artists use and have been using for decades, and I have a feeling that what Zapp and Roger are up to isn’t technically autotune, but the gratification is all the same powerful. The chorus is the the best noise we’ve been blessed with.
Image from here.