Photo Credit: Jorja Smith
Now a quarter of the way into 2021, it’s safe to say that not even a global pandemic could stop the music industry from flourishing and thriving. Musicians across the world continue to surprise and impress, bringing a much-needed breath of fresh air to what has felt like an eternity indoors.
With new releases from the likes of Jorja Smith, Bebe Rexha, and Justin Bieber getting us back into the groove of normalcy, we thought we’d run through some of the music we can’t switch off this month.
So, grab your nearest pair of headphones, get your Spotify ready, and crank up the volume. We’ve got some music you’re going to want to hear.
Following the delay of his sixth studio album, Certified Lover Boy, Drake dropped the EP Scary Hours 2 on March 5th. Set as a sequel to 2018’s Scary Hours, the EP highlights Drake’s ability to deliver punchy verses while riding a catchy a beat. Meant to give fans a taste of what Drake will deliver with his upcoming album, the three tracks that make up Scary Hours 2 are successful in hyping up those hungry for new music. The music video for the EP’s opening track, ‘What’s Next’, sees Drake dancing in an empty Toronto, reaffirming the musician’s affinity for the urban aesthetics of his hometown. Matching heavy trap beats and clever wordplay with Drake’s signature swagger, ‘What’s Next’ delivers a masterclass in commercial hip-hop that will have many fans eagerly awaiting the release of Certified Lover Boy.
Justin Bieber started 2021 on a high with the release of ‘Anyone’, which later peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. With his newest album, Justice, just around the corner (mark March 19th on your calendars), fans were more than excited when Bieber dropped ‘Hold On’ just weeks in advance. ‘Hold On’ plays to Bieber’s trademark hero image, as he croons to his fans “You know you can call me if you need someone” and reflects on the feeling of losing your sense of self. The music video, which sees Bieber on the run from police after getting into some shady business in order to pay for his partner’s hospital treatment, provides the perfect narrative for the dramaticism of ‘Hold On’.
The Bruno Mars x Anderson Paak collaboration we never knew we needed has finally dropped, taking on the title of R&B supergroup, Silk Sonic. Knowing that Mars and Paak have worked together on various projects in the past, including Chic’s 2018 album It’s About Time, many fans were excited to see their friendship and working relationship evolve further. They didn’t disappoint either. Following the announcement of their collaboration in late February, the duo dropped the single ‘Leave The Door Open’ just a week later on March 5th. The R&B soul song builds on the pair’s affinity for jazz-inspired party music, creating a syrupy sound that emphasises the sultriness of the lyrics. Silk Sonic’s debut album, An Evening With Silk Sonic, is expected to be released later this year.
Marking 2021 with the release of her debut studio album, Life Support, Madison Beer has entered our radar as a powerhouse to keep an eye on. Following the release of multiple hit singles last year, the singer announced she would release her first full-length album in February 2021 alongside the single ‘Boyshit’. The single itself is a guitar and bass driven track which pushes back on the manipulations of a male partner, with the focal line “I don’t speak boyshit” highlighting Beer’s determination to take back power in a relationship that has become undermined by the effects of toxic masculinity. The music video is a mishmash of romantic visuals inspired by cult films like Blue Velvet and The Heathers, that sits alongside scenes of a girls’ military-style bootcamp. Promoting a message of self-worth and female empowerment, ‘Boyshit’ is clear in its insinuation that no man is worth the emotional exertion.
The queen of TikTok soundtracks is back with ‘Streets’, a revival of a track from Doja Cat’s 2019 album Hot Pink. The song gained attention earlier this year on TikTok through the Silhouette Challenge, which uses a red-light filter to block out silhouettes as the user poses naked. Paired with Paul Anka’s ‘Put Your Head On My Shoulder’, ‘Streets’ became synonymous with the viral trend of thirst trapping. With the #SilhouetteChallenge now at an impressive 17.8 million views, Doja Cat has launched herself back into the charts – and how better to celebrate than with a brand-new music video? Released on March 9th, the music video depicts the singer in a game of cat and mouse with a New York cab driver (Kofi Siriboe). The video also pays homage to the song’s success on TikTok, as Doja Cat uses the opening of the song to perform the Silhouette Challenge from a shop window.
Another release we’re loving this March is Bebe Rexha’s ‘Sacrifice’, a pop-infused house track intended to “give the gays everything they want” – and boy, did Rexha deliver. Dubbed an official ‘gay bop’ by fans, ‘Sacrifice’ references elements of queer music that have raised the likes of Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, and Madonna to icon status. However, it’s Rexha’s brand of pulsing club music and unabashed sexual intrigue that sets her apart as one to watch. ‘Sacrifice’ sees Rexha step into the role of badass vampire queen, putting on a show of leading unsavoury men to their inevitable doom. Whether rampaging through hospitals to steal her next meal or dancing in the bloody rain of a nightclub, Rexha proves she can play the rule-breaking femme fatale as well as any actress. The energetic rhythm of ‘Sacrifice’ is bound to be a clubbing staple when lockdown measures lift later this year, so we suggest you get to hit the dancefloor.
Rounding off our list is Jorja Smith, whose new single ‘Addicted’ dropped earlier today. The song marks Smith’s first release since October 2020, and fans were more than ready to welcome her back onto the music scene. ‘Addicted’ carries a slow and easy vibe that contrasts with the lyrical discussion of being unable to move on from a lover that has no interest in maintaining a relationship. But this contrast is what emphasises the cleverness of Smith’s lyricism, as the catchy beat makes ‘Addicted’ a song you will continue to sing long after it has ended – reinforcing the demand that “You should be addicted”. The accompanying music video is just as intriguing. Packed with stunning visuals that play on the luminosity of different textures, the music video sees Smith wandering around a lavish home she can’t seem to leave. While possibly a metaphor for the lyrics, the setting also echoes the current lockdown situation. In this respect, ‘Addicted’ extends Smith’s empathy for shared plight of the current times, allowing her to connect more directly with her fans. With so much to unpack in one song, we couldn’t agree more with Smith: we should be addicted.
Words by Charlie Colville