Welcome back to the eleventh (wow!) installment of Spire’s Bops and Flops, the series where yours truly reviews the best and worst music of the month. If one thing can be said about this month’s music, women started 2021 off with a bang. The best music of January is from female artists who have a bone to pick with toxic men. Happy listening!
In her debut album, Maggie Lindemann is a modern, unapologetic rockstar. With a cool girl persona and a range of genre inspirations, Lindemann has created an album that packs a punch while remaining palatable.
The vast majority of PARANOIA’s eight tracks are heavily rock and pop-punk inspired, but there are two exceptions. GASLIGHT! includes heavy hip-hop/ rap bass and screamo vocals. Conversely, Love Songs is by far the most calm and reserved track with it’s lovey dovey lyrics and acoustic guitar. Both of these songs diversify the album as a whole and provide much needed shifts in mood to keep the listener entertained.
Rock ‘n’ Roll never died per se, but it is exciting to see how new artists are finding ways to make the classic and ever evolving genre progressively more modern. PARANOIA is a rock album at its core, but its inspirations from pop, hip-hop/ rap, pop-punk and more give the album a well-rounded sound.
In the follow up EP to their wildly successful debut album, Honeymoon, Beach Bunny takes hard jabs at the patriarchy and misogyny in Blame Game. At just four songs in length, Blame Game is short but far from sweet. Each track takes a hard look at toxic masculinity and sexism through the lens of a woman scorned by the system.
With lyrics like “stop saying ‘it’s my bad’, you’re acting like your deadbeat dad” and “you say you won’t, and then you do”, Good Girls (Don’t Get Used) kicks off the EP with an all too familiar tale of someone getting mistreated by a boy. The track is fast paced and features strong guitar and drums that create an angry and explosive tone.
The following three songs are less angry in nature, but they still reveal ugly truths about toxic masculinity. Blame Game is the final track on the same titled EP, and the chorus’ lyrics are particularly attention grabbing- “guess it’s my fault my body’s fun to stare at, sorry my clothes can’t keep your hands from grabbing, yeah, it’s my problem, I’m asking for it, guess you’re the victim and I’m the suspect.” From start to finish, the song is brilliantly written from a woman’s perspective living in our society’s rape culture. If I could recommend just one song from the EP, it would be this one solely for its relevant cultural commentary. Overall, Blame Game is a fantastic EP for the modern young woman who is jaded by the patriarchy and toxic men.
TRAMP STAMPS is the new girl group you’re going to desperately want to be a part of. Hopefully Sex With Me isn’t relatable, but if it is, TRAMP STAMPS is here to commiserate with you. According to the band’s Twitter, their explosive debut single is “for all the guys who cry after pulling out and then call you crazy for double texting.” TRAMP STAMPS speaks to a new generation of unapologetic women, gays and theys who are fed up with the patriarchy and the men who uphold it. They are definitely the punk-rock trio to keep an eye on.
Ah yes, where to begin with this one… I’d like to skip the drama since this isn’t a gossip series, and just discuss the song itself. If you’re curious about the drama, just Google it.
At only 17 years old, Olivia Rodrigo has broken Spotify’s record for most streams in a day (for a non-holiday song), and it continues to break its own record. To add to this accomplishment, drivers license (stylized in all lowercase) is Rodrigo’s debut single.
The main draws to drivers license are its lyrical relatability and Rodrigo’s emotional vocal delivery. I have applauded Taylor Swift in previous Bops and Flops for exactly what Rodrigo did with drivers license– writing extremely specific lyrics that are just vague enough for people to deeply relate to. It would be an understatement to say that the open wound of teenage heartbreak is an unpleasant feeling, and drivers license perfectly encompasses the raw emotion behind your first heartbreak. I also think it’s worth mentioning that the song’s setting (a car) is a main selling point of drivers license. Teenagers spend outrageous amounts of time in their cars because it’s their first taste of freedom and some of the only time they get to spend without parents or teachers looming. Even if the listener isn’t currently a teen, chances are they have vivid memories of driving during those years. By using a car as the focal point of her story, Rodrigo brilliantly added both imagery and universality to drivers license.
ACTION is a weird bubblegum pop, synth-rock song that couldn’t be more fun to listen to. ACTION is the second single from CHAI’s third album, WINK, set to be released on May 21. Despite its infectious danceability and cutesy sound, ACTION wasn’t created to be surface level. The song’s inspiration came directly from the Black Lives Matter protests last spring and summer.
CHAI is rather eclectic in sound, influenced by many sounds like punk, rock, synth, pop and EDM. The all-female band from Japan has a quirky and unique musical perspective that is blatantly obvious from the first listen.
I am beyond tired of TikTokers using their already amassed fame to compensate for their subpar music. What makes the whole situation even sadder is that many TikTokkers, including LILHUDDY, are attempting (and failing) to emulate the iconic pop-punk sound of the late 90’s and 2000’s. I know I’m not alone in saying that an emo music renaissance would be wildly popular, but nobody wants it to happen like this. The fact that 21st Century Vampire comes up before Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown on a quick Spotify search genuinely saddens me.
Let’s get one thing straight before I go further in depth, 34+35 is an absolute bop, banger and jam. With that said, this remix was completely unnecessary. Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion are fantastic artists, and they wrote fun verses to be featured in the song. However, the remix just seems like a blatant cash grab, and the overall quality of the song seriously suffered as a result.
Check out Spire Magazine’s “January Bops” Playlist on Spotify for the best hits of the past month.