Ah, March. It’s definitely been an eventful month for me, I don’t know about y’all. We’re just starting to see some of the Song of the Summer contenders seeping through, so we’re definitely seeing a lot of comebacks, with new music from the likes of Gorillaz, Lorde, Drake, Charli XCX, Calvin Harris, Kendrick Lamar, Ed Sheeran, Frank Ocean, and plenty more. Even Chuck Berry put out a new single, and that guy died like, yesterday. But of course, some songs are always gonna stand out as the best, and here are my personal favorite tracks from the month of March. Note: I generally tend towards singles for these lists, so every song on here has been released in some capacity outside of an album, if not technically a single.
20) LOSE MY COOL – Amber Mark
The elusive Amber Mark has been on the come-up since her mysterious first single “S P A C E” dropped last year and caught the ear of heavyweights like Zane Lowe. Given that her new video seems to be literally comprised of home movies, I’d say her reputation as a recluse is probably an overstatement, but she still brings a unique Aaliyah sort of flavor to her music. “Lose My Cool” is sparse, nostalgic, deep, and enjoyable. She’s definitely got a pop sound, but her uniquely moody blend of popping pianos and tribal drums makes for some very interesting tracks. The kid’s going places. Check her out.
19) LONG TIME – Blondie
I’ve been really digging this new Blondie stuff, man. I haven’t listened to any of their more recent albums– apparently, they’re sort of divisive– but I’m definitely interested in their upcoming one, Pollinator. They’ve released three or four songs from it so far, and they’re all pretty good, but I think “Long Time” is the best one yet. It definitely has a timeless feel to it, and it’s written by the brilliant Dev Hynes (a.k.a. Blood Orange), who’s always a gem. It’s a fun-yet-melancholy track that may not stick with you, but won’t ever get old.
18) DENNIS RODMAN – Mansionz feat. Dennis Rodman
Mansionz is a new alternative hip-hop group consisting of Mike Posner and blackbear, neither of whom I particularly associate with good music. This is why I was taken by surprise by how much I enjoyed their debut album, mansionz. It’s really unique and sort of mesmerizing, even if the lyrics leave something to be decided. This single from that album, “dennis rodman,” is an ode to the eccentric basketball player and his do-what-you-want attitude. Dennis himself shows up at the end for a supremely enjoyable monologue, and it’s just a really unique sort of track. I like the way Mike says “Dennis, Dennis, Dennis.”
17) I’M POPPY – That Poppy
Creepy social experiment or not, Poppy’s music is pretty darn good. It perfectly fits the aura of Poppy’s mesmerizing, unsettling, modernist nightmare videos. It’s catchy, shiny, extremely well-produced, and despite its mind-numbing over-the-top pop simplicity, it leaves you with more questions than answers. It’s a song that’s viscerally enjoyable on the surface and can leave you utterly stupefied if you give it the time.
16) EVERYBODY – Logic
This might be the best Logic song I’ve ever heard. It’s got a sparse-yet-fascinating beat, a simple choral sample intercut with an occasional juicy drum beat. Lyrically, it’s a little out-of-focus but perfectly serviceable, and it has an idiosyncratic quality to its writing that we don’t really hear from Logic all that much. I’m more likely to listen to this next album than I think I’ve ever been for a Logic album before.
15) MY CORNER – Raekwon feat. Lil Wayne
Kicking off a trifecta of killer hip-hop duos on this list, we start with two legends who’ve never come together on a track: Raekwon the Chef and Lil Wayne. The result has the feel of a classic early-2000’s street rap track, with Rae bringing his usual off-kilter flows and hard-hitting bars while Wayne goes full mixtape mode and spits what’s probably his best verse since Collegrove. “Getting foreign money, money talks with an accent” is some classic Wayne shit. Admittedly, the beat is pretty weak and Raekwon’s verses, as good as they are, are fairly forgettable, which is why this song falls to the bottom of these next three tracks. It’s still great, though.
14) ROCKABYE BABY – Joey Bada$$ feat. ScHoolboy Q
Something about Joey Bada$$ never quite hit with me. He’s definitely a great rapper. He’s got fantastic lyrics, okay flows, a pretty unique vibe, et cetera. But I’ve never really heard one of his songs and particularly wanted to hear it again. Maybe a little ScHoolboy was just what he needed. Honestly, Q fucking decimates this beat. It’s one of the best verses he’s ever put out, and Joey is still able to hold his own, even if he doesn’t manage to match ScHoolboy’s obscene amounts of sheer presence. It’s also a really cool beat.
13) GRANDMA HIPS – Your Old Droog feat. Danny Brown
Best hip-hop duet of the month right here. Your Old Droog is a Ukranian-American rapper who gained a ton of buzz back in 2014 after rumors started circulating that he was actually Nas. A rapper known for being a sound-alike may not sound like a winning formula, but he’s really solid and actually has a pretty unique style. This track right here is an homage to MF Doom, and like a rap game Bruno Mars, YOD flawlessly replicates the lyrical stylings, the production, the swagger of Doom in his prime. Danny Brown comes through with a solid verse to cap it off, using his eccentric vocals to slowly transition from an “-am” rhyme to an “-it” rhyme. It’s hard to describe but it’s really interesting.
12) IN COLD BLOOD – ∆ (Alt-J)
I absolutely love the production on this song. I love that weird synthetic Addams Family organ thing at the beginning, I love how every element of it builds up only to become a cacophony of limp french fries. The electric guitar, the hand claps, the barely-registered background vocals. Joe Newman’s vocals have this whiny melancholy to them that I think is fascinating. And y’all know I’m a sucker for a good brass section.
11) TOTAL ENTERTAINMENT FOREVER – Father John Misty
I don’t think I’d ever thoroughly listened to Father John Misty before his appearance on SNL early this month. Sure, I knew he was good, I heard his (incredible) Taylor Swift cover album, but I’d never really paid attention to his stuff. Turns out, he’s a little pretentious. I mean, this is a great, powerful song, but like… we get it. You read Infinite Jest. Its position is enigmatic in an interesting way. I mainly like the composition, but it’s also really well-written. There’s a lot of songs out there that I hate that are just like this, but this one manages to make it work.
10) PERFECT PINT – Mike WiLL Made-It feat. Rae Sremmurd, Gucci Mane, and Kendrick Lamar
If anything, this song was a victim of overhype. After being previewed in concert about a month and a half ago, it was on everyone’s mind. Rae Sremmurd and Kendrick Lamar? The possibilities were endless. What we ended up with is very much unlike anything I expected. It’s slow, hazy, nostalgic. It’s still a great song; in fact, it’s probably better than I was hoping for. I like the beat. I like the mumbling, daydreaming hook. Gucci’s verse is his best in a long while. I like how Kendrick sort of ambles in in a bathrobe and still straight-up kills it. “Kung Fu Kenny” is great. It’s definitely one of the highlights off Mike WiLL’s Ransom 2 for me. It took me a while to come around to it, because it’s not really a banger in the sense that most Rae Sremmurd songs are. It’s a song.
9) ANSWER MY TEXT – PWR BTTM
I love PWR BTTM. A lot. Punk isn’t really my scene, but they’re one of the few groups I’m 100% behind. What’s great about “Answer My Text” in particular is how crushingly relatable it is. It has a grandiose, powerful feel to it, but its great message? It’s rallying cry? “Answer my text, you dick.” It’s an image of stark obsession, but one that forces the listener to confront its universality. It’s just a fun song, man.
8) WE GOT THE POWER – Gorillaz feat. Jehnny Beth and Noel Gallagher
Gorillaz made an epic comeback this month with four new singles, but I gotta give it up for “We Got the Power.” It’s infectious, has a great message, and it just feels so… big. Between the harmonies, the endlessly-rising synths, and the thunderous drums, it’s a captivating experience. This song’s placement at the very end of Gorillaz’s forthcoming record Humanz is fitting for how triumphant the song feels. I can’t wait to see what else they have in store.
7) DON’T TAKE THE MONEY – Bleachers feat. Lorde
Lorde also made a triumphant return this month. After fans waited with bated breath for four long years, she’s finally back, with a developed sound and broadened horizons. She’s also worked with a variety of new names. Her single “Green Light,” which is climbing the Hot 100 as we speak, was written and produced with fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff. Her next single “Liability” was a softer, vulnerable piano ballad made with the help of veteran pop songwriter Jack Antonoff. Finally, there’s “Don’t Take the Money,” the first collaboration between Lorde and Bleachers frontman… Jack Antonoff. Yeah, these two are pretty close lately. I’d say “Don’t Take the Money” is my favorite out of those three, though. It’s an ’80s beach pop throwback with fantastic production and a really great sound that accentuates the heartbroken lyrics while still being thoroughly, unstoppably entertaining.
6) DREAMER – Charli XCX feat. Starrah and RAYE
Charli XCX came back with a new mixtape this month: Number 1 Angel, her first record since her acclaimed 2016 EP Vroom Vroom. And it’s full of that same cocky, dark electropop that people love her for. “Dreamer” is basically a Migos song, as interpreted through the lens of female pop singers. Starrah, the most-talked-up artist of 2017, acts as the Quavo of the group, full of affected sing-rap vocals and clever flossing. RAYE seems to be the song’s breakout star, if only by virtue of being the least well-known, but you’ve gotta give some credit to Charli. It’s her song, and while she only does chorus duty and a bridge, her impeccable swagger keeps it afloat.
5) HEATSTROKE – Calvin Harris feat. Young Thug, Pharrell Williams, and Ariana Grande
Calvin Harris redemption arc 2017. After releasing an immediate contender for Song of the Summer with “Slide” last month, Silent Cal jumped right back in it (I know no one calls him Silent Cal) with an infectious yacht pop track boosted to 11 by handing the reins over to Young Thug. Thugga delivers two really solid verses, making this essentially his song, but Pharrell and Ariana join forces for a transcendent feel-good chorus that just feels like summer. I don’t see this catching on on the same level as “Slide,” but I’ll always appreciate it.
4) GALWAY GIRL – Ed Sheeran
Betcha weren’t expecting to see Ed Sheeran so high up on this list, were you? The reviews for Ed’s latest album ÷ has received justifiably tepid reception, but while the album certainly has its flaws, “Galway Girl” might be my favorite Sheeran song of all time. It’s an ingenious blend of hip-hop and Irish folk, apparently talking about the same girl from “Shape of You,” but doing so with much more finesse. It’s extremely catchy, and once again, I just really like the concept. This is exactly the kind of music I want to hear from Ed Sheeran.
3) CHANEL – Frank Ocean
You know I had to save a spot for my boy Frank. “Chanel” is just such an interesting song. I love how all the verses have a whole different tune, cadence, voice, feel, but it still feels like a cohesive whole. The beat is mysterious. It feels like there’s more to uncover if you keep listening, and the song itself doesn’t do much to deter you from that.
My guy pretty like a girl
And he got fight stories to tell
I see both sides like Chanel
C on both sides like Chanel
The lyrics are mesmerizing. Every Frank Ocean song seems to open up a whole new world. Extra points for a killer A$AP Rocky verse on the elusive remix.
2) SATURNZ BARZ – Gorillaz feat. Popcaan
Surprise, bitch. Yeah, “We Got the Power” is great and all, but goddamn. I love Popcaan and I love Gorillaz but I never really expected a collaboration between them to amount to much. This shit is incredible. It’s hard to pick apart what I like about it because there’s not really anything I don’t like about it. The hook is great. Popcaan’s verse is great. The video is phenomenal. I like how his verse ends with “Mi dream fi own house… land…….. cars and bikes.” Just listen to it. You can skip to 2:22 if you don’t care about the phenomenal video.
1) HUMBLE. – Kendrick Lamar
Okay, I don’t really have a justification for this. I can’t even think of a concrete reason this is better than Kendrick’s other release this month, “The Heart Part 4.” But I just love it so much. It’s just irresistible. Whenever it starts, I want to sing along to every single word. It has an unflappable swagger to it; a simple but endlessly enjoyable beat and the type of gravitas you’ll only find in one of the greatest rappers alive. I was actually in the middle of ranking this list, fully intent on not including this song, and then I listened to it one more time and couldn’t stop myself.