New Music To You: Goldlink, Tyler, the Creator, Jay Prince, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Roberta Flack

With the Hummingbird Rotation, we hope to give folks a closer look at the songs that get the most play at Hummingbird HQ. This installment, hear about Goldlink, Tyler, the Creator, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Roberta Flack

U Say // GoldLink, Tyler, the Creator, Jay Prince

I was introduced to GoldLink years ago, and though I never actively or avidly kept up with his music nearly as much as I should’ve, it’s been exciting to watch him grow more and more into the rapper he showed glimpses of five years ago.

GoldLink’s flow is rapid-fire, dizzying, and gymnastic — at times, there’s a JID feel to his delivery, but GoldLink’s bars tend to be more coolly executed instead of the frenetic, jittery style of JID. His presence on the mic in “U Say” is calm, casual and confident as he leads the minimal, woozy instrumental.

The beat’s rhythm is atypical, lacking the standard kick-and-snare alternation that summarizes 95% of hip-hop beats. This is not uncommon for GoldLink, who often opts for faster, reggaeton-influenced rhythms instead of the traditional boom-bap of hip-hop. “U Say” is definitely closer to the former, with a lopsided shuffle that creates forward momentum only accelerated by GoldLink’s high-speed tongue-twisters.

Tyler and Jay Prince’s features fit into the mood of the song like a pair of gloves, with Tyler bringing a grittier, more assertive tone that balances GoldLink’s feet-kicked-back nonchalance and Jay Prince holding down a smooth hook. The instrumental mirrors the contrast between Tyler and Goldlink’s energy levels, straddling the opposites of fast-paced and chilled-out with the jumping, dynamic beat contrasting the swaying, watery chords.

She’s Kinda Hot // 5 Seconds of Summer

I know what you’re thinking: “Wtf why did Charlie pick a song from a boyband from the early 2010s?” If I’m gonna be honest, it took me a while to understand the whole boyband thing. Growing up I was told that only young girls were allowed to like boybands, no matter the actual quality of the music itself. Eventually I grew out of this narrow view of music, and started really appreciating some of the quality tunes from these groups.

So there I am, stuck in traffic on the way back from my “real” job, and all of a sudden from one of my discovery playlists, “She’s Kinda Hot” comes on. As soon as the opening lyrics hit my ear with “My girlfriend’s bitchin’ cause I always sleep in, She’s always screamin’ when she’s calling her friend. She’s kinda hot though,” I was instantly hooked. The song has a pop-y, punk-y sound that’s not short on electric guitar riffs played with the perfect amount of edgy distortion. It’s an easy song to sing, and relatable enough to be funny. I know I’m not the only one who’s dealt with a crazy significant other, and the song is filled with even more of these situations.

“My shrink is telling me I got crazy dreams / She’s also saying I got low self-esteem / She’s kinda hot though… She put me on meds / she won’t get out of my head / She’s kinda hot though”

With a goofy and relatable first few verses, the song eventually gets to its chorus, which is my personal favorite collection of lyrics I’ve heard all week.

“They say we’re losers and we’re alright with that. We are the leaders of the not coming back’s, but we’re alright though, Yeah we’re alright though.

We are the kings and the queens of the new broken scene / Yeah we’re alright though”

I don’t know if you’ve looked around, but the general state of things in the world right now can seem pretty scary and overwhelming. But sometimes the best way to deal with a big scary world is to sit back, laugh at the insanity, and hopefully find a reason to smile. Whether you have a borderline abusive ex, a shrink that’s not doing the job for you, or even just a nervousness for the future: the only way to get through tough times is to remember “we’re alright though.”

And yes, I did get all of that from a two minute boyband song.

Killing Me Softly with His Song // Roberta Flack

Let’s shift gears. For those who don’t know, I’ve spent a lot of time growing up around and learning from jazz musicians, so I’ve always had a spot in my heart for that genre of music. That’s why when I first heard this song, I instantly fell in love. If you remember the rap group Fugees, you might remember they had a song of the same name from their 1996 album The Score. The hook from their song (also titled “Killing Me Softly with His Song”) is lifted from this song.

Roberta Flack performs a hauntingly beautiful performance. The instrumentation is just as hypnotic, with a simple but powerful bassline, as well as electric organ playing the countermelody; the whole mix of the song is filled with a tasteful amount of reverb, making everything sound more like a dream than anything else.

There’s not much else to say other than this: if you enjoy soft jazz ballads, you’re gonna love this song.

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