SINGAPORE – In this weekly column, The Straits Times curates the most buzz-worthy music you need to know about now.
Stream This Song: Nickthereal – What I Do Is Love, Not A Dream
The Taiwanese singer’s latest single, released on Aug 26, is the theme song to his Nov 19 concert at the Taipei Arena, his first solo show at the venue.
Its lyrics balance on the knife edge between hope and disillusionment, looking towards the past with both nostalgia and a sense of repentance.
In the Mandarin banger, Nickthereal – whose real name is Nick Chou – sings that the world is too noisy, with people comparing themselves with everyone else. Yet, lines such as “This time we’ll never say goodbye/This time I will be there for you” acknowledge past mistakes and look towards a more promising future.
The tension in this track gives it complexity and character, elevating it from a regular anti-establishment pop-rock number to a passionate commitment to stand with his fans in the face of hardships.
And the messaging seems to have worked – tickets to Nickthereal’s upcoming gig have already sold out.
Ace Album: DJ Khaled – God Did
Having guest stars in your album is a common thing to do in the world of hip-hop.
But American record producer DJ Khaled takes the practice to a whole new level in his 13th album God Did.
The line-up of featured rappers and singers is practically a who’s who in the world of contemporary hip-hop.
There is Jay-Z, whose extended verse on the album’s title track expertly recounts his remarkable story of how he rose from the streets to become a successful billionaire.
His vivid lyrics and copious use of double entendres remind listeners that the American hip-hop mogul’s status as a successful businessman has not blunted his flair for rapping.
Canadian star Drake appears twice – in the album intro and in the early single Staying Alive, which interpolates the Bee Gees’ iconic 1977 disco hit.
Use This Gospel (Remix) is a star-studded affair, a new version of a song off American rap star Kanye West’s 2019 gospel album Jesus Is King, with fresh verses from American rapper Eminem and production by veteran American rapper-producer Dr Dre.
Other notable names include a mix of both younger rappers, ranging from 21 Savage to Travis Scott, and established acts such as Jadakiss and Lil Wayne.
Eddino Abdul Hadi
Must-See MV: Foo Fighters featuring Shane Hawkins – My Hero
American band Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins died at the age of 50 in March, and it has been one of the biggest losses of the year for the rock world.
It took a while for the group, particularly frontman and Hawkins’ good friend Dave Grohl, to recover.
Last Saturday, Foo Fighters paid tribute to their late drummer in true rock ‘n’ roll fashion, with an epic six-hour concert featuring performers such as ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, Queen guitarist Brian May, Oasis singer Liam Gallagher and pop star Kesha.
The highlight, though, was when Foo Fighters brought out Hawkins’ 16-year-old son Shane, the oldest of his three children, to play his dad’s part in a rendition of one of the band’s signature songs, My Hero (1998).
The teenager’s passionate performance mirrored Hawkins’ distinctive and expressive playing style, and it was a truly heartfelt moment that honoured the late musician’s legacy.
Somewhere in the afterlife, Hawkins must be smiling.
Eddino Abdul Hadi
Chart Champ: IVE – After Like
Debuting strong with Eleven at the end of 2021 and following it up with Love Dive in April this year, which sold more than half a million copies in one month, IVE are the definitive rookie K-pop girl group to watch.
Their new single After Like is another hit, setting a new personal record for them as it sold more than 460,000 copies in its first day of release.
It also landed on the top of various real-time music charts like Melon and Genie in South Korea, cementing the sextet’s status as “monster rookies”.
This is a groovy dance track and one of the stronger contenders in the wave of retro-inspired numbers that have become particularly trendy in K-pop in recent years.
After Like pays a straightforward and satisfying tribute to disco as it samples the iconic and instantly recognisable disco anthem, Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive (1978), but gives it a new spin.
While the original song was about rising up after a devastating break-up, After Like is a youthful, cheeky number about the excitement of a budding romance. After all, love usually comes after like.
Singapore Scene: Nathan Hartono – Infinity
Singaporean crooner Nathan Hartono is back from his music hiatus.
His new single Infinity is his first release since the remix of his song The Difference, a collaboration with electronic music act Myrne, released in December 2021.
And Hartono seems to be entering a new phase.
Infinity is an upbeat and fast-paced number that borders on pop-punk, a marked difference from the jazz tunes he made his name with in the early days, as well as the electronic-tinged pop of his 2021 EP, Edge Of Days.
It certainly is a welcome evolution, a move that shows off his versatility as a singer and songwriter.
Despite Infinity’s buoyant beat, the lyrics are actually quite pensive and address what Hartono describes in a statement as “a tumultuous time”.
He says: “Infinity is a song about feeling disconnected from reality, which is something that tends to happen to me when I get into depressive states. The best way I can describe it is this nebulous feeling of days being too short yet too long at the same time.“
Eddino Abdul Hadi