SKIZZY MARS feat. LÉON – “Changes (Léon – Tired Of Talking Remix)” – as described my mika limcaoco
Listening to a distinctive vocal is great – it’s different, refreshing, interesting? But after the one minute mark, tuning into that same weird frequency can get old fast. By combining Skizzy Mars’ strange, autotune rasp with Léon’s honeyed voice, Changes turns two weirds into a right. This kind of vocal arrangement is a rarity, making this song a gem. Is it rap? Autotune? Indie? Acoustic? EDM? Soul? Soul Cycle? It doesn’t matter. It works.
MACY GRAY – “I Try” – zane hellmann
“I Try” was the first song I remember listening to on repeat. Me and my brother lay on our bed one Sunday morning, our feet up in the air (straight out of some Disney movie), and played this song again and again until the sun went down. Macy Gray’s voice was so charismatically modest, so hauntingly soulful, and so smoothly raspy that we couldn’t do anything but just hit rewind every time the song ended.
JOANNA NEWSOM – “Sadie” – as described by ansh shukla
Nestled within a childish, whiny voice and fantastical, Medieval style, a heart rending requiem for how adulthood snatches life and love from those who defer it. Time is a symptom…
PORTUGAL. THE MAN feat. DANNY BROWN – “Evil Friends (Jake One Remix)” – as described by david schmitt
Danny Brown has one of the most unconventional deliveries in rap, which is so unique that I spent a fair amount of time trying to concoct a list of adjectives to accurately represent his style and utterly failed. While his vocals are often backed by harder, banging beats, Brown seems at home on this souped-up version of an indie rock hit in a combination that may make you double-take at first – but it will grow on you.
SANGO – “Agorinha” – as described by phill giliver
While it’s not technically Sango that’s doing the singing on his tracks, whenever I hear what seems to be Portuguese, I start jamming out. Last time it happened, I was kicked out of one of those Brazilian barbecue places. The guy wasn’t even singing – he was just speaking Portuguese (I think).
GRIMES – “California” – as described by sophia laurenzi
Does she have a lisp? Is she actually a baby? Does she speak in nasal autotune? …is her voice so weird because she’s Canadian? No matter high-pitched and similar to a whiny pre-teen Claire Boucher’s voice is, I’d know (and love) it anywhere.
FERGIE – “Labels or Love” – as described by nikki tran
Fergie sings and perfects the musical equivalent of the hair flick emoji, eons before emojis were a thing. Her voice epitomizes everything about the early 2000s valley girl – the chihuahuas, the faux fur cuffed cardigans – and I miss it.
ZAPP & ROGER – “I Want To Be Your Man” – as described by anthony milki
In the same way that we go nuts over well-used autotune, hearing a dude sing like a robot is eternally gratifying. Zapp’s the king of cyborgs.
LIFE WITHOUT BUILDINGS – “The Leanover” – as described by katie nesser
Maybe it’s just my unfamiliarity with the Glaswegian accent, but Sue Tompkins from Life Without Buildings has always sounded like an alien to me, repeating back phrases she’s picked up from us Earthlings and injecting them with all the wistfulness of a creature who doesn’t belong here, and all the confidence of a being who could destroy us all.
Image from here.