Sam Rankin / Daily Nexus

“MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” by Lil Nas X

At the end of March, Lil Nas X finally released the long-teased track “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name).” Named after his birth name, Montero Hill, and referencing the 2017 film “Call Me By Your Name,” the track follows Hill navigating a relationship with someone who is closeted, and in the chorus, Hill asks the boy to “call [him] by [his] name” and profess his love. The sung-rapped lyrics stylized in autotune, along with hints of a flamenco guitar on a trap-like beat and a post-chorus of humming create a catchy, hard-hitting song. The accompanying music video delves into the meaning of the track. Strongly influenced by biblical allusions, Hill’s embracement of his sexuality leads to a fall from grace and a descent into Hell — on nothing less iconic than a stripper pole — where he then seduces Satan with a lapdance and kills him, taking his place as ruler of Hell. The devil is in the details, and the visuals, fashion and allusions drive the meaning of the track forward to create a bold embrace and celebration of queerness. Yet, along with a subsequent Satan-themed shoe release, backlash ensued. From the Governor of South Dakota to conservative commentators, charges of ruining “the soul of our nation” to “destroying our youth” were laid on Hill. Hill fired back with brief, hilarious meme-ridden tweets that only increased the popularity of the song. His unapologetic attitude makes the track even more empowering and as Hill pens in a message to his 14-year-old self, “this will open doors for queer people to simply exist.”

– Marisol Cruz 

“Insomnia” by YUKIKA

K-Pop newcomer YUKIKA returned this month with her new EP “timeabout,” following her excellent and retro debut full-length “SOUL LADY” released last year. This EP, and especially the tracks “Insomnia” and “Lovemonth,” hone in on the city-pop sound she’s been cultivating, including an incredible bassline, light vocals and an irresistible hook. Even those not familiar with Korean can enjoy her fresh take on pop music, and we can expect more unique and soulful pop from her in the future.

Sam Franzini

“Soul Train” by YBN Nahmir

In light of a recent reemergence of old funk-soul aesthetics (a la Migos and Silk Sonic), one artist has unexpectedly captured the collective consciousness of the internet with his take on a throwback jam. “Soul Train” from YBN Nahmir’s debut album “VISIONLAND” became the music meme of April, with artists and music communities gathering to joke about the oddity of the song (just check the YouTube comments and awe-inspiring like-to-dislike ratio). “Soul Train” truly embodies a “so-bad-that-it’s-good” ethos — a slightly more digestible IceJJFish. Nahmir wails about his honest feelings for a romantic interest through pubescent voice-crack autotune, signing cryptic statements such as “It don’t feel like we doin’ too much,” which is plastered eleven times throughout the song’s 2-minute-15-second run-time. “Soul Train” also features quotables like “When I glide, I slide, might slip around” — who cares if listeners know what it means?  Due to the absurdity of the lyrics, Nahmir’s strained vocals and the upbeat instrumental which attempts to salvage the track, “Soul Train” became a musical punching bag for YBN Nahmir to go back and forth with Twitter trolls over. 

– Jadon Bienz & Evan Gonzalez 

“Jitterbug” by Fog Lake

Aaron Powell’s alias, Fog Lake, might be the best hint we’ve got as to what inspires the captivating music he puts out year after year. The idyllic, coastal landscapes of Glovertown, Canada, where his musicianship spawned, make a perfect complement to the idyllic soundscapes that distinguish each Fog Lake record. His latest LP “Tragedy Reel” was released on April 23 under the NYC-based label, Orchid Tapes. The third track on the record, “Jitterbug,” adopts the familiar, gentle tempo Powell has mastered so well throughout his discography. His androgynous voice registers like a dream: hard to make out, but with a few details that come through crystal clear. The track might uplift subdued moods and subdue uplifted moods until a delicate equilibrium is reached, a state of nostalgia or longing. “Jitterbug” is a marriage of strangeness and comfort, an ode to how the two often go hand-in-hand in music. 

Shereen Mohammadzadeh