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Pop CultureMay 8, 2017

Best Songs Ever: DJ Khaled drops a monster earworm, Nickelback are predictably awful and HAIM are back


Our regular round-up of new songs and singles, this week featuring HAIM, EarthTiger, DJ Khaled, System Corporation and… Nickelback!


HAIM – ‘I Want You Back’

Another 2013 bright spot returns after a notable absence

Yada yada yada … Christine McVie … yada yada yada … Lindsey Buckingham … yada yada yada … Tusk … yada yada yada … Okay, yeah, sure. It does sound a lot like Fleetwood Mac. And the Ariel Rechtshaid production does sound a little dated, not to his ‘80s sonic inspiration, but to 2013 when his shit sounded so fresh (not just HAIM’s Days Are Gone, but also Sky Ferreira’s Night Time, My Time and even bits of that year’s Vampire Weekend album). But still, HAIM are back and they sound good and sometimes it’s just nice to have nice songs with nice harmonies and nice guitars and drums about nice things like love and heartbreak. – Henry Oliver

HAIM. Nice.

EarthTiger – ‘Claudia’

One of the Kidz is back from space

Though EarthTiger have a release on the way, ‘Claudia’ won’t be on it: due to sample clearance issues it exists only on Soundcloud, as a taster of sorts of the forthcoming DirtyRoarLoveSongs (formatting original – chalk it up to the long tail of Timberlake). Formed by members of KidzInSpace (remember this?) once that particular project had crashed back down to Earth, EarthTiger list their influences as The Black Keys, Gorillaz, Mac Miller, The Pharcyde, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams, and to their credit, ‘Claudia’ bears that out. No one does Kanye like Kanye does Kanye, but this is recognisably Kanye-adjacent – think one of his more nu-soul, pop-y collaborations such as with Estelle or Theophilus London. It’s a good groove and glossily produced, so it’s a shame that it falls into the same trap as so many songs with a good hook: leaning on it too heavily. Gotta get a good run out of that uncleared sample! – Elle Hunt

Nickelback – ‘Song on Fire’

Is it palatable, awful or just, y’know, bad?

As the odd dissenting voice has dared to suggest; the last couple of Nickelback albums haven’t been quite as unspeakably awful as their early, repugnant, reputation-making work. The first single off their upcoming album Feed The Machine was a generic hard rocker, slick enough to suggest this slight upswing was possibly part of a trend, but second single ‘Song on Fire’ knocks your front door down, shakes you out of your stupor and yells at you in a quite angry and disappointed way for ever thinking this band could border on being palatable.

Kicking off with a U2-style guitar riff which immediately telegraphs its bombastic intentions, the track quickly descends into a power ballad, accompanied by a series of schoolboy rhymes in which protagonist Chad Kroeger tries hard to write a song about love lost, but just can’t help blubbering onto the page on front of him. By the time the soul crushing banality of chorus hits (“I could set this song on fire / Send it up in smoke / Tie it to a plane and send it to the moon”) it’s nearly enough to make you wish Chavril was still going concern, simply so this song didn’t exist. Naturally, I can’t wait for the album. – Pete Douglas

DJ Khaled – ‘I’m the One’ feat. Justin Beiber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper, Lil Wayne

Earworm warning!

If you don’t want to have a song stuck so deep in your head that you struggle to concentrate on your work or the monthly phone call with your mother, or the TV show you’re watching on your laptop, don’t listen to this. – HO

System Corporation – ‘Dismal Universal Hiss’

Ex-Datsuns. TL;DR: Bad name, good song

‘Dismal Universal Hiss’ landed in The Spinoff’s inbox with a press release – “It’s definitely not every day that you receive great music from New Zealand in your inbox :)” – and an apology from System Corporation’s Scott Newth: “Please ignore the first line, our promo people are from Canada”. This band is, in fact, three-fifths ex-Datsuns, and ‘Dismal Universal Hiss’ is the first single from their album, Fiction Dept., due for release later on this year. The song was written at the time of the Occupy Wall Street movement about the futility of protest in a broken political system – a theme that, if anything, has only gotten more pertinent in the interim years, and an update of the tradition of protest music for our pessimistic modern times.

‘Dismal Universal Hiss’ is a confident, considered rock song of the kind that doesn’t come around often anymore – think Sonic Youth x Band of Horses – and I await the album with interest. That’s if I can remember the name of it or the band. I had to remind myself of “System Corporation” four times in the writing of this, even after reading a complicated story about its inspiration (something to do with a Swedish liquor store). Fiction Dept. is equally instantly forgettable. Is it too late in the piece to change either or both? – EH

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