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[new] Jesse & Joy – Alguien Más (94bpm)

This record is almost reggaeton. The beat technically qualifies as such, but thankfully it bears no other resemblance. I like how this record is put together. The violin part is its signature and it works well. Normally, I don’t really care about the music video either way, but someone put a lot of effort into this one and the results are really beautiful.

[fav] The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights” (170bpm)

This is Max Martin’s 23rd number 1 record and with good reason. You can tell top shelf producers by what they decide not to do. Max Martin’s records are usually stripped down to their most basic parts. He takes those basics and perfects them. No gimmicks, no ProTools plug-in du jour, no adding unnecessary layers. He’s laser focused on just those elements that make a song great, catchy, and memorable. When in doubt, leave it out. 30 years from now, this will still be a great sounding record. Congratulations, Max. You make it look easy.

[new] Marshmello, Halsey – “Be Kind” (94bpm)

Producer / DJ Marshmello brings a nice pop record with a memorable, singable melody. It features some nice dynamic range too. One ding: I know he wanted the vocals to sound crisp, but he went overboard with the EQ, making them really top heavy. Sometimes less is more. Still like it though.

[new] Lennon Stella – “Older Than I Am” (59bpm)

Canadian singer / actress Lennon Stella has a really beautiful, touching song here. Beautifully crafted melody, chords, and lyrics. Excellent, dynamic, soulful vocal performance. This is my favorite ballad of 2020 so far. My only piece of advice on this track would have been to back off on the piano mechanics.

[new] Astrid S & Brett Young – “I Do” (110bpm)

For a second, I thought Kelly Ripa made a record. I like this track despite several things I don’t like about it. Way overboard on the auto-tune. The same three chords are repeated throughout the song, verses and chorus. How about changing things up for the Chorus, huh? And there’s no bridge. A really good bridge would have propelled this song into something quite excellent. Look for an acoustic version if you prefer that kind of thing.