1. Sky Ferreira - “Everything is Embarrasing”

    It feels like there’s a lot of silence, or space in pop lately. Blame and thank the xx, I guess. Reverb and spare accompaniments are everywhere, including on my favorite song of the year, “Climax.” Ferreira’s song is definitely influenced by the xx, but there’s also a Lynchian/Julee Cruise vibe going on in “Everything is Embarrasing”: that creepy male voice, her lonely singing pursued by those brief piano chords, the sprightly girl group melodies hidden in all the murk. It’s not just an end to the loudness wars, but a return to spooky pop music.

    Cruise’s songs for Lynch hit an edge where ’50s dream-pop sweetness soured into nightmares. In this respect, they were so ’90s: they convincingly subverted conservative ideals of perfection and homogeneity. “Everything is Embarrasing” isn’t quite in the same place. The ’50s references have become even more blurred, like a photocopy of a photocopy, or replaced with R ‘n B and dance elements. Just as Cruise and Lynch were deliberately misremembering the ’50s to make their artistic point, Ferreira and her producers are misremembering the ’90s (and late ’80s) to make a song with a fragile wistfulness that hasn’t been popular on the charts for decades. 

Notes

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