Why Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” Is the Ultimate “Bop,” for Better or for Worse

Writing about popular music is lousy with obnoxious words. Indeed, there are so many—jangly, crunchy, seminal—that there is a whole book of them (and shamefully, I have used my share). Making things more complicated, much of this language is also subject to a generational divide—words coined by the young are understood to be off-limits to [...] Read more

Cardi B’s “I Like It” Is the Latest Version of a Song that Took 50 Years to Get to No. 1

Last year’s undisputed Song of Summer, “Despacito,” was a lilting, thumping, Latin-Anglo hybrid by a pair of Puerto Ricans, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, sung mostly in Spanish with a brief English-language assist from Justin Bieber. This year, the race for Song of Summer has, to date, mostly been a faceoff between streaming gods Drake [...] Read more

XXXTentacion’s No. 1 Hit Presents the Ultimate Music-Industry Test of the #MeToo Age

Though he’s far from the first troubled victim of gun violence to go to No. 1. Serial killer Charles Manson’s only studio album was released while Manson was being held on charges for the two-night series of 1969 killings he instigated via his “family” cult, known as the Tate–LaBianca murders. Morbid curiosity couldn’t, however, make [...] Read more

America’s New Favorite Song Proves Post Malone Is a Full-Blown Pop Star

With “Psycho,” the “rapper” behind “Rockstar” confirms he’s this generation’s Everlast. With sincere apologies to Maya Angelou, I’m starting to think when white “rapper” Post Malone showed us who he was, we should have believed him the first time. I place “rapper” in scare quotes, because Malone has been running away from hip-hop for the [...] Read more