The Playlist: Cardi B Isn’t Going Anywhere and 9 More New Songs

Posted December 24, 2017 5:05 p.m. EST

Pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the most notable new songs and videos — and anything else that strikes them as intriguing: Sugarland returns with its first song in seven years, Charli XCX teams with Carly Rae Jepsen and Laura Marling covers a Bob Dylan classic.

Cardi B featuring 21 Savage

‘Bartier Cardi’

Ozuna featuring Cardi B

‘La Modelo’

Any anxiety you might feel that Cardi B might somehow disappear from the pop music troposphere should by now be alleviated. Following the success of “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves),” she’s now appearing on two songs currently in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100: Migos’ “MotorSport” and G-Eazy’s “No Limit.” And last week she released two singles that showcase her versatility. “Bartier Cardi” is a sinister, greasy number full of quick-tongued rapping, and featuring a charmingly snarling verse from 21 Savage. And “La Modelo” is a breezy duet, in Spanish and English, with the Puerto Rican reggaeton-soul star Ozuna.


Danielia Cotton

‘Set Me Free’

“I have the scars and roots and a story that I will tell,” Danielia Cotton vows in a song dramatic and soulful enough to fill a revival tent. Cotton has been releasing EPs and albums since 2004; “The Mystery of Me” came out earlier this month. As “Set Me Free” gathers banjo, gospel choir and a muscular rock band, Cotton testifies to pain, need, revelation and redemption in a voice that’s as raw as it is indomitable.


Alicia Hall Moran

‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’

Few could pull this off, and hardly anyone would try. But Alicia Hall Moran, an operatic mezzo-soprano, is irreverent and gutsy and well outside any box. Here she gives us a spurned and slow, minor-key rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” singing with just a string trio behind her and interlacing it with passages of “Habañera,” the famous aria from “Carmen” about chasing an elusive love. This is the opening cut on “Here Today,” Hall Moran’s sophomore album, and it’s a hint at the dizzying breadth of things to come: The 16-track collection showcases Hall Moran’s meditative, philosophical compositions; covers of songs made famous by Nina Simone and Billie Holiday; and a gently rolling take on the spiritual “Two Wings.”



‘Still the Same’

The slickest way to return from a long hiatus is to insist that no time has passed at all. Such is the schtick of “Still the Same,” the first new single in seven years by Sugarland, the duo of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush. As solo artists, neither achieved significant Nashville success, Nettles’ formidable voice notwithstanding. So here they are, with a country-era-Bon-Jovi-esque song about reuniting and feeling so good that you hope people forget you ever went away.


Charli XCX featuring Carly Rae Jepsen


Charli XCX has turned out to be the Occam’s razor of pop: a sloganeer and strategist, ruthlessly terse. Simultaneously, she welcomes the artificial. “Run through a city at midnight to feel like a star/I want it all even if it’s fake,” her manipulated voice insists in “Backseat.” The song should really be titled “All Alone,” words that appear again and again. Carly Rae Jepsen, marginally more innocent, takes over to sing about physical sensuality and complex relationships: “Are we in love/I’ll never know.” The track is a calculated glimpse of empathy that doesn’t last.


Laura Marling

‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’

So many verses, so many images: Laura Marling and a small band — sounds like drums and a guitar behind her — make Bob Dylan’s wordy and endlessly adaptable portent of apocalypse gallop toward the end of every verse. She edits out many lines, only to maintain all the intensity.



‘Stir Fry’

The new Migos single is produced by Pharrell Williams, who counters the typical density of the group’s music with a mélange of sensual mid-1980s electro-soul, bleeps, whistles and tender harmony vocals.




Will Johnson, who leads Centro-Matic and South San Gabriel, and Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster, who leads Water Liars, have teamed up as a band called Marie/Lepanto for an album due Jan. 26. Its preview track, “Inverness,” hails from the grungy territory shared by Neil Young and Hüsker Dü, where drums trudge steadfastly, guitars fuzz out and scream with feedback, and frazzled voices persevere against duplicity and disillusionment: “The difference is forgetfulness/We lost the books but who’s keeping track?/For once I see the outcast win.”



‘We Come Right’

Oli Deakin, a British songwriter who records as Lowpines and releases his debut album in February, takes quite a bit from the playbooks of early Bon Iver and Iron & Wine: the breathy vocals, the dreamlike ambience, the sense of echoey isolation even as he gathers a mini-orchestra that’s mostly overdubs of himself. But “We Come Right,” a slow waltz undulating among two and later three chords, stays poised and mysterious as it contemplates oblivion.


Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York


A minute and a half passes before we hear a clear pitch on the opening track of “Fukushima,” a new album from the pianist Satoko Fujii’s 13-piece Orchestra New York. Till then, it’s mostly toneless whispers. Eventually we find ourselves in a low-lit passage of collective improvising, the group’s all-star musicians (the percussionist Ches Smith, the saxophonist Tony Malaby and the bassist Stomu Takeishi, among others) coalescing in a humid ecosystem. This album is Fujii’s response to the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, and the track is clearly reminiscent of some kind of wasteland. The rest of the album ranges from sections of sharply arranged forward momentum to quiet, scattering moments like this one. There’s a sense of inescapable contingency, of latent danger amid beauty.