James Blake Covers Billie Eilish, Big Freedia and Flo Milli Do Santa, and More Best Songs of the Week

As the nation and the globe wake up each morning asking, “Is 2020 over yet?,” the search for the next great new song is one thing that makes getting out of bed a worthy endeavor.

We’ve already covered the Taylor Swift, Avalanches, Kid Cudi and Chris Cornell albums as well as the 20-years-late Britney Spears-Backstreet Boys tag team, and fittingly for this odd week, the top songs are an odd batch …

James Blake “When the Party’s Over” We don’t usually go for covers in this column and we definitely don’t usually go for slow piano-and-vocal ballads, but this one is special. Unveiled last year during Blake’s solo piano-and-vocal tour — in fact, we recorded and posted some of it in an overheated tweet from his show at the Ace Hotel in L.A. — it finds the British crooner delivering a version of the song that’s both faithful to the original and entirely his own. There’s plenty more where this came from on the “Covers” EP Blake released today.

 

Bia “Whole Lotta Money” This track from the Boston-spawned MC’s new EP finds her firing off fiery rhymes, but in an unimpressed, been-there tone that’s matched by the woozy bassline and midtempo beat — it’s a really unusual combination that stands out from the standard yelling and/or bragging in so many hip-hop songs. Bia’s gotten some big cosigns — Rihanna called her “Best on Earth” “my favorite new track,” and she’s collaborated with Lil Durk, Russ, Lil Jon, 42 Dugg and more.

 

Channel Tres (featuring Tyler, the Creator) “Fuego” Despite the title, this track is one of several highlights from this rising Compton-based artist’s latest mixtape, “I Can’t Go Outside,” which, not surprisingly, was made during and is about lockdown. Tress has quietly become a major go-to collaborator for artists including Disclosure, James Blake, Robyn and Tinashe — and here we get a characteristically killer and off-kilter cameo from Tyler, the Creator too.

 

Burial, Four Tet, Thom Yorke “Her Revolution” In the wee hours of Friday morning, the first new song in nearly ten years from this oddball dream team of Radiohead’s frontman and two of the most significant electronic musicians to emerge in this century floated into our inbox. Anyone who knows this team knows not to expect a banger — instead it’s a subtle and gorgeously ethereal reverie that, even at five-plus minutes, is over way too quickly.

 

Big Freedia (featuring Flo Milli) “Better Be” There have been so many holiday songs released this year, and so many of them are so bad. But here, we have the moment this New Orleans-born bounce pioneer, who was sampled by none other than Beyonce (on “Formation”), has been working toward for her entire career: a soft-porn Christmas EP! On “Better Be,” Freedia and Flo Milli unpacking in great detail exactly the kind of Santa they hope will be coming down their chimney…

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