Song of The Year- Cuz I Love You by Lizzo
This is my favorite first song of the year (it’s from the self-titled album). Sure, Lizzo has a show stopping voice of the kind I would stab an alien for. That is not the most exciting thing about Lizzo. I can’t get enough of how totally reckless and bonkers she is. Her uncontrolled energy bursts in all directions on the title track produced by Ithaca NY rock band X Ambassadors.
I’m sure a lot of people are writing how great this album is from a body positivity standpoint; that it is great to have more vibrant black female voices. Problem with those takes is they come out of a jar ready to be spread out to fit anybody from Janelle Monae to Cardi B etc etc. Artists are specific not general so criticism should be specific.
While listening to the song you can find yourself asking questions: who would hit the high part of their register this much?! Who would open their album laughingly calling themselves a former ho?! When Pitchfork reviewed Cuz I Love You they pointed to ham fisted lines and awkward images as tough to swallow. Lizzo just doesn’t have the time or energy to go Fiona Apple with the lyrics. Her strength is that she doesn’t carry the fear a lot of us do. She’s not afraid to belt so hard she has to catch her breath, and let you hear, not afraid to say something we all know is corny like “I would do it for you all my friend, ready baby?! Will you be my man?” The desperation in the delivery and pulverizing honesty in the lyrics take center stage even as X Ambassadors fill the track with high energy pro-wrestling rock entrance music. Musically she’s so wild she’s free to be honest and in a world this deceptive and artificial it feels so good to hear.
Song of The Year-Play by Big Freedia featuring Goldiie
When I heard the album Just Be Free in 2014 I must have listened to it the way the kids look at the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (early part of the movie). Living in Maine I’m sure I expressed wide -eyed tap- the-glass confusion before dismissing it. I put it in that mind bin of stuff I don’t understand and know I don’t know enough to comment about… until one episode of The Handsome Rambler podcast. Hannibal Burress and his co-host Tony Trim were asking the question: is it harder to maintain your musical hot streak being lyrically dense with a lot to say or straightforward and energy based repeating phrases. Hannibal brought Big Freedia into the conversation as someone who continually does the latter. Freedia grabs a few phrases and stirs them into the bounce so the song never feels stale but no one has to pull out lined paper and take notes.
When Freedia put out the five song ep 3rd Ward Bounce I completely got it. I had learned to stop figuring it out and enjoy it. Once I let go and did what Freedia asked me to do in 2014 (Just Be Free!) I could see the brilliance in it.
No question in my mind 3rd Ward Bounce is the best EP of 2018. It moves beyond mastering your sound, it’s a sound that can digest so many disparate talents into it. Lizzo fits perfectly in the background of Karaoke not in the shadows mumbling backup but full throated big personality killing the hook(the hook to a Big Freedia song should be called The Super Hook since every second feels like the hook). Freedia doesn’t need assistance, the lead single Rent has 80’s hip hop Run-DMC flourishes and still bounces like a shopping cart over cobblestone. Knowing who you are as an artist is such an important and difficult step but Freedia is beyond it, now she mixes her magic with the talent of others and concocts new recipes. Goldiie’s superhook on Play is so clean clear and downright pretty that I couldn’t be more excited for what she will do next. The song they create together is the flawless finale this short adrenaline rush of an ep needed letting you bounce but also appreciate the view from where you are. No one takes charge of your body like Big Freedia.
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Tagged 3rd Ward Bounce, Big Freedia, Bounce, Goldiie, Handsome Rambler Podcast, Hannibal Burress, Just Be Free, Lizzo, N.O. Bounce, New Orleans, Play, song of the year, Tony Trim