We’ve made it three quarters of the way through the year. Not quite near the end to analyze everything properly, but close enough to appreciate all the good music and experiences we’ve amassed. To celebrate this quarterly milestone we thought it'd be the perfect time to loosely reflect, and shamelessly praise, some of our favorite releases to date. So without further ado, here are our top 5 tracks of the year (so far).
The month leading up to Steve Lacy's ‘Gemini Rights,’ every chance I got to speak of the record I’d conclude boldly, “It’s gonna be a cultural reset.” And while I can’t speak on behalf of said culture, I can confirm that the album, specifically the closer, did it for me.
A four and a half minute ballad adorned by Steve’s buttery falsettos, which could easily blend into Stevie Wonder's Talking Book, “Give you the world” might just be the best love song of the year. Sincerely proclaiming the lengths at which he would go to erase and redeem his past mistakes, Lacy’s devout message and loving determination is infectious. Following closely behind, despite the steep hills his vocals explore, all I can think about when I listen to this track is how perfect and timeless it feels. How a day won’t go by without me thinking about its perfection. And most importantly, how I would give the world to hear it for the first time once again. -Olive Soki
Exploding to popularity through TikTok, Quinnie’s “Touch Tank” undoubtedly contains one of the best-written hooks of any release this year. Gently, Quinnie sings, “He’s so pretty, when he goes down on me / Gold-skinned eager baby, blue shirt out the laundry / He tells me he’s gentle when he wants to be / So I think he wants to be, gentle with me.” These creative, picture-painting lyrics immediately struck a note with hundreds of thousands of people on TikTok and launched Quinnie into the mainstream music sphere.
So far, the song has racked up over 14 million streams on Spotify and has become an anthem for fans across the world. Additionally, one of the most impressive aspects of “Touch Tank” is how the song successfully flips the narrative of the sexualization of women in music. Quinnie details a sexual encounter with a man, and does not hold back when singing about how she feels when they are in the act — a perspective that is relatively uncommon for women to openly voice through their music. -Nate Fenningdorf
Two weeks before Haley Blais released what I would consider to be her best track to date, she shared a sneak peek of its accompanying music video — featuring her boyfriend's excellent dance moves. The faithful fan that I am, I immediately shared the clip, captioned it “THIS IS IT,” and patiently waited for the release.
Dusty enough to elicit the same glee evoked by the best of Sheryl Crow, yet brassy and clever enough to contemplate past its 3 minutes, “Survivor’s Guilt” is everything I thought it would be and more. Straight out of the gate, she presents an intriguing storyline, simple guitar riff and the perfect hook. And just when you start feeling out the rhythm, the previously discrete and calculated riff comes wailing in - in all its dusty glory - as she sings the unforgettable chorus “Can a girl mourn the death of her dog in the back of a theater in peace anymore.” Although I love my playlists, “Survivor’s Guilt” might be one of the only songs out there I would willingly listen to on loop any day of the week. -Olive Soki
Opening with one of the best chorus’s of the year, “Only thing that lean is yo bitch, when I bend her over / Sippin’ Poland Spring and Arizona, fuck a Coca Cola / That’s your Juliet? Oh that’s cool, Ima Romeo her / You think you a demon ‘til I Giyu like I’m Tomioka” it only takes a few seconds before Jay Eazy’s eccentric song, “Tomioka,” is permanently stuck in any listeners’ head. Hailing from Middletown, New York, the rising rapper has taken the music scene by storm with his off-kilter flow and unbelievably witty bars.
Adding to the creative lyrics that make you wonder how anyone could write something so clever, is the enchanting beat that samples Kanye West’s “Bound 2.” “Tomioka,” produced by rolo, a producer on his way to the top of the industry, not only features the familiar vocal melodies of “Bound 2,” but also a beautiful, shimmering bell that feels like it puts you in a trance. All in all, this song is a masterpiece and if you haven’t heard it yet, you definitely need to go listen.
While this is definitely one of the lesser-known songs on this list, I feel that I had to add it because of what a masterpiece the song is. Through his captivating TikTok’s, Jay Eazy has been able to push this song to a large audience, but it definitely deserves more attention. -Nate Fenningdorf
While Drake’s album, Honestly, Nevermind, was received with mixed reviews from the greater music community, there are obviously some bangers on the album. “Massive” is one of these songs. With a vibe similar to that of “Passionfruit” — with a touch more house — Drake’s genre-bending style is on full display on this song.
While Drake lets the beat do a majority of the legwork on the song, there is never a dull moment. Whether it’s the repetitive synth whose dynamics shifts throughout the song, to Drake's silky vocals, there’s a lot to love on this track.
One of the best parts of this song (maybe more of the album — but I still want to mention it) is the memes that came out of it. With fans making wild claims on social media like “only people with no passport hates drake album,” it’s obvious that his fans were trolling the critics, but it is true that Drake did go for a different vibe on this album, and I loved it. -Nate Fenningdorf