“Friends,” “Give You Up” and “Hurricanes” singles (BMG)

Dido helped lead us through the turn of the century – her debut album, No Angel, was released in 1999. Now she’s back when we need her the most. Her previous studio album, released in 2013, was Girl Who Got Away. Some people may know her from when Eminem featured her song “Thank You” on his rap song “Stan.” Dido sounds nothing like most popular vocalists that we hear now. She doesn’t belt it out. Her voice is unmistakable, impossible to imitate, and hauntingly sweet and sad. She sounds like an angel leading you through the gates of heaven or an alien life form taking you to an ethereal plane. These three singles couldn’t be more different. When I first heard “Friends” and “Give You Up,” I thought, “Yes, Dido is back.” Then I heard “Hurricanes” and was completely floored at the tonal change that occurs halfway through. It’s my favorite song so far this year. Dido has gotten better, without her style changing drastically. I can’t wait for more. Her new album, Still on My Mind, comes out March 8.

Alessia Cara

The Pains of Growing

(Def Jam/UMG)

Alessia Cara is the powerhouse voice behind the mega-hits “Scars to Your Beautiful,” “Stay” with Zedd and “1-800-273-8255” (the National Suicide Prevention Helpline number) with Logic and Khalid. Cara’s voice sounds traditionally R&B and pop, but stands out more than most. The way she transitions between notes is what sets her apart. It seems effortless and beautiful. I can pick her out of any song. This great album features tracks like “I Don’t Want To,” which is stripped down to a simple guitar rhythm and Cara’s vocals – a sweet song that’s one of my favorites. Many of these songs feature guitar, which shouldn’t be surprising because Cara started her musical career by producing acoustic covers of popular songs. My only complaint is that even though the songs are over three minutes long, they sound short. But the album has 15 great tracks to choose from. My favorites are “7 Days,” “Trust My Lonely,” and “Nintendo Game.”


“Keanu Reeves” single 

(Def Jam/UMG)

Logic creates some of the greatest rap melodies I’ve heard in years. In this one, the backing melody is haunting, like in “I Got 5 On It” by Luniz. Many newer rap artists have been shaped by that 1990s song. “Keanu Reeves” shows how self-aware Logic is. I like how he doesn’t ignore criticisms of him and his work. It’s almost as if it fuels his greatest songs. He’s well-aware of the memes created by him and his music. They make fun of his referring to his biracial heritage and he turns that into stellar lyrics. He’s famous for his song about depression, “1-800-273-8255,” and this song alludes to the fact that moms driving on the street with their children will stop him because they know that song. In a sea of popular mumble-rappers, I hope Logic is a muse to the future of rap.

Lana Del Rey

“Hope Is a Dangerous Thing For a Woman Like Me to Have – But I Have It” single


Lana Del Rey always has that winter mood, even when it’s a bright, overwhelmingly warm, sunny day. Right now, though, it’s all too fitting. The tone of the song is cold, bitter and sad. I love this song, but I don’t suggest listening to it if you’re not willing to hear something that makes you look inside of yourself. It’s a serious one. A piano accompaniment follows her like a musical angel. This single is beautiful, and the emotions it evokes are difficult. It is worth it, though. I kept it on repeat because it fit my mood perfectly.

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