Sam Rankin / Daily Nexus

“positions” by Ariana Grande 

Ariana Grande recently dropped “positions,” the lead single from her highly anticipated sixth studio album of the same name. “positions” is a feel-good pop-R&B song with subtle trap beats and backing instrumentation featuring the sounds of the guitar and violin. Notably released only hours after the final U.S. presidential debate of 2020, the song and its accompanying music video, in which Grande portrays the U.S. President, sends an empowering feminist message, especially relevant given the country’s current socio-political turmoil. The video and lyrics, “Switchin’ them positions for you/Cookin’ in the kitchen and I’m in the bedroom/I’m in the Olympics, way I’m jumpin’ through hoops,” remind women that they are powerful and free to do anything they set their mind to, whether that is in the kitchen, leading in a political position or in the bedroom. While the song is certainly catchy, the track feels slightly underwhelming, especially as a lead single, compared to her previous hit singles, like “The Way,” “Dangerous Woman,” “no tears left to cry” and “thank u, next” all of which were explosive and marked specific moments within her music career. By no means is “positions” a bad song, but even after a couple of listens, it sounds more like a track No. 4 on the album than it does a lead single. It’s still an enjoyable listen, but not particularly memorable. Perhaps, she’s found her sound and wants to stick with it, but if her past albums are any indication of the greatness of her upcoming album, we have nothing to be worried about. – William Qu 

“Homura” by LiSA 

Powerful and emotional, you don’t need to speak Japanese to feel the sharp cut of anguish and determination coming from LiSA’s voice. “Homura,” the latest theme song of the recently released movie, “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train,” has not only been a top hit in Japan, but also around the world. With translated lyrics including, “Take your hand and let go for the future/Whenever a dream comes true, I think of you again,” LiSA manages to set ablaze to the public’s hearts with the sad and nostalgic melody of her voice on both sides of the world. – Jasmine Lin

“Gucci Bucket Hat” by Future ft. Pap Chanel and Herion Young

Atlanta hip-hop superstar Future teams up with fellow rappers Pap Chanel and Herion Young on his new song, “Gucci Bucket Hat,” to create another flex anthem for all his fans to vibe to. Hype started to build around this track after Future posted a video of him vibing to an early version of this song with a grin on his face and a Givenchy bucket hat on his head, likely the inspiration for the title. He drops clues about the day-to-day of his trap-superstar lifestyle, telling tales of rolling around in luxury Maybach sedans, big money gambling and his supervising to this day of core street operations. It’s another great profile piece of Future, by Future. Pap Chanel hops on next, talking her shit by showing how she has earned all of the things that she sees other females rely on men to obtain. She passes it off to Herion Young, a new Freebandz label signee who tells his own street tales and stories of riding around with Future. A great, vibey track you should check out if you’re looking for your latest dose of Future. – Aayush Dixit 

“Only Time Makes It Human” by King Princess

King Princess knocks it out of the park with her second single, “Only Time Makes It Human,” after the release of her 2019 debut album, “Cheap Queen.” Like many of her contemporaries such as The Weeknd, Miley Cyrus and Rina Sawayama, King Princess is riding the ‘80s revival wave. Such an upbeat tone created by the synth bass and signature punchy snare of the ‘80s contrasts her melancholy lyrics about the struggles of unrequited love. She laments, “‘Cause thinking ‘bout her leaves me lonely,” as funky beats oddly complement her singing. “Only Time Makes It Human” introduces many different sounds than we are used to hearing from King Princess, but it’s truly and utterly, a bop. – Tam Le

“Many Men” by 21 Savage and Metro Boomin 

The ambition of 21 Savage and Metro Boomin has not stagnated since the duo’s eerie “Without Warning” collaboration dropped three Halloweens ago. “Many Men” is a perfect bundle of the cinematically sinister highlights and throwbacks found in their latest project, “Savage Mode II.” The violin-drenched transition intro from the previous track “Slidin” is one of the most euphoric moments on the album, which immediately drops into a creeping melody with ghastly harmonizing vocals. 21 offers a cold yet energized performance, while interpolation and sampling of 50 Cent’s “Many Men (Wish Death)” complimentarily invokes Cent’s characteristic toughness and drive. – Jadon Bienz

“Stuck On You” by Giveon

Rising R&B artist Giveon, who quickly gained popularity over the summer with his feature on Drake’s “Chicago Freestyle,” recently released an EP of his own titled “When It’s All Said And Done.” As the title suggests, the project’s five tracks follow the tumultuous journey of a relationship and its aftermath, along with the messy remnants of sadness, regret, guilt and spite. The track “Stuck On You,” in particular, explores the notorious push-and-pull of acknowledging the downfall of a relationship yet irrationally yearning for the return of intimacy. Giveon’s soulful yet raspy tone perfectly encapsulates these contrasting emotions. His trademark sultry sound paired with his iconic baritone ballads offers an emotive release that is sure to resonate with his listeners — especially those in the midst of heartbreak. – Francine Oflas

“Dos Uno Nueve (219)” by Omar Apollo 

“Dos Uno Nueve (219)” is a very modern take on a corrido with a splash of pop. On the track, Apollo sings about his own life instead of the usual corrido, which is about other people. The title of the song is a shout out to his hometown, as it translates to “Two One Nine” which is the zip code of where he grew up in Indiana. He sings about growing up poor and expresses how he still hasn’t forgotten the times his family didn’t have food to eat, “No se me han borrado las veces que no teníamos pa’comer.” His deep voice goes on to proclaim how in spite of his critics he never gave up, which is evident in his quick rise to fame. Apollo has immensely grown in popularity in just the last two years, having uploaded his first song, “Ugotme,” on Spotify only three years ago and now having close to three million monthly listeners. – Liliana Linan

“Don’t Stop” by Megan Thee Stallion ft. Young Thug

Megan Thee Stallion is “Thee” moment. After a string of successful singles and features, she’s back with an electro-rap, braggadocious cut featuring Young Thug, where she continues to assert her dominance through her brazen, Houston-bred flow. The bars are dynamic and hilarious, with the chorus being the perfect structure for the Charli D’Amelios of TikTok. Young Thug also effortlessly weaves himself into the track, producing some of the most quotable lines on the song like, “Don’t stop, hatchback (Uh, uh)/Shakin’ that ass on Snapchat (Yeah).” Megan is the current commander-in-chief of the rap game and “Don’t Stop” is a testament to this and another notch on her quickly expanding belt. – Maryo Jajo