“As It Was” by Harry Styles (Released: March 31, 2022)
Harry Styles’ newest single “As It Was” is a nostalgic, surreal ode to loneliness and lost love; his lament of the past through unique instrumental choices and lyrical composition perfectly execute the longing yet hollow atmosphere that the song is meant to convey. Combining his signature upbeat synth sounds with a steady, soft acoustic progression in the background, the song brings out his iconic sounds to create a layer of melodies that sound distinctly like him. With his mellow and airy vocals slotted perfectly against the fast-moving guitar chords, Styles evokes a feeling of a distant, lingering comfort that he can’t help but chase. Most notable is Styles’ work with the bridge of the song—applying a muffled effect to his voice while segmenting his speech into a rhythmic reading, he not only crafts a catchy pattern bound to get stuck in people’s heads but also experiments with speed in a way that adds depth to his music. Overall, this song gets a rating for 4/5.
“Love Dive” by IVE (Released: April 5, 2022)
Following up on the group’s stellar debut in 2021, “Love Dive” features the young, up-and-coming girl group IVE expanding their repertoire in the more mature facets of K-pop’s electronic dance niche. Consisting of Yujin, Gaeul, Rei, Wonyoung, Liz, and Leeseo, this group of six instantly rose to fame with their first release, “Eleven.” As their first song of 2022, “Love Dive” has also reached similar levels of popularity, already achieving top rankings in both Korean and Japanese music charts. Leaning away from the more upbeat pop styles of TWICE and Girl’s Generation, the song uses mild harmonic dissonance to give the song a mysterious and alluring atmosphere; this sentiment is reflected in the lyrics that beckon the audience to ‘dive’ in and explore the depths of an enigmatic attraction. “Love Dive” is not only impressive for its composition, however. The song also incorporates dynamic choreography with sharp, precisely timed movements and an artful manipulation of positioning and space that syncs perfectly with the rhythm and overall vibe of the song. For all of that, this song gets a 4/5.
“First Class” by Jack Harlow (Released: April 8, 2022)
Topping the Billboard and YouTube Trending Music Charts, “First Class” by Jack Harlow pairs a strong beat with relaxing elevator music-style piano harmonies to create a luxurious listening experience. Though the stylish atmosphere created through Harlow’s memorable blend of instrumentals is certainly impressive, what makes “First Class” truly stand out is its unique chorus. Taking inspiration from Fergie’s hit song “Glamorous,” Harlow interweaves soft melodic vocals spelling out ‘glamorous’ between lines of his bolder rapping tones, all the while coherently integrating many of the letters as part of his lyrics. He starts out the song by singing: “I’ve been a (G)/throwing the (L)/sex in the (A.M.)”—the G, L, and A.M. in this context being used as colloquial terms and abbreviations. Additionally, his expert use of internal rhyme with the phrases “I’ve been a” and “throwing the” establish a clear and connected flow from one line of the lyrics to the next. Overall, whether you appreciate Harlow’s lyrical skill or just think the song is nice to vibe to, “First Class” is undeniably deserving of a 4.2/5.
“Giri Giri” by Masayuki Suzuki ft. Suu (Released: April 15, 2022)
As per popular demand, J-pop Funk singer Masayuki Suzuki returns to the music scene with “Giri Giri” to complement the release of the third season of “Kaguya-Sama: Love is War.” This jazzy ode to young love not only lives up to the standard that his previous two smash hits established but also goes above and beyond in the execution. Suzuki’s songs tend to follow a similar structure from beginning to end, and yet all still beautifully resonate with the audience in their own particular way. While his previous works featured a playful and teasing atmosphere, “Giri Giri” hones in on feelings of desire and longing, especially with the added sense of desperation punctuating the song in the form of melodic calls for “your love.” What’s more notable is the balance of low and high tones that Suzuki incorporates within each of his songs; the greater leaps in octaves in “Giri Giri” only serve to emphasize how he artfully interweaves featured artist Suu’s angelic singing with his huskier voice to create a perfect balance of both. This song—for all its blaring trumpets and lamens about love—deserves no less than a 4.5/5.