Inquirer Super

Super Playlist: Florence + the Machine cries for ‘Jenny of Oldstones,’ and other songs about the cost of love

By Eunice Lei Wu, Fran Katigbak, Inna Christine Cabel
05/5/19 4:51 AM

“JENNY OF OLDSTONES” Florence +
the Machine

That Florence Welch (and her Machine) of otherworldly, witchy-woman fame has only now sung a track for the pop-
culture fantasy phenomenon that is “Game of Thrones” and it is utterly astounding. Granted, the live wire that is “Seven Devils” did feature in promotional material for the show’s second season. “Jenny of Oldstones,” however, is an entirely different animal—and definitely worth the wait. With nought but a piano yielding a few chords to dread-inducing effect, Welch’s venerated vocals plumb the depths of heartbreak and woe with increasing fervor. “Jenny” chills the heart and devastates the soul as it drifts through the haunting halls of sorrow where bereaved lovers dance with their ghosts—never wanting to leave. A fitting ballad indeed for the show’s own final dance. —ELW

“CELLOPHANE”
FKA twigs

The genre-bending British provocateur is back after about a two-year absence, and, oh, what a marvelous return! Twigs contorts, twists, crawls upward and crushes a foe, then does an accelerated, backbreaking fall that ultimately ends with her crashing into mud. All that happens literally—in a disturbing though exquisite music video of the artist as pole dancer in sky-high heels—
and figuratively, in a comeback single that again defies (pop) convention. A piano-driven ballad, “Cellophane is bolstered in parts by faint, hazy beatboxing and a lone, low drumbeat that mimics a slow heartbeat. Twigs’ trippy vocal acrobatics ride the somber tempo as she laments a love that’s “wrapped in cellophane,” transparent as in a romance that plays out in public—for all to watch, scrutinize and wait to fall apart. –FK

“OXYGEN”
Jackson Wang

In two and a half minutes, Chinese artist Jackson Wang leaves you breathless with his haunting plea for “Oxygen.” Released on April 12, the new single showcases Wang’s trademark low vocals, and a striking trap beat that grips you with melancholy and pure, raw emotion. Wang’s dark, desperate lyrics liken a love lost to drowning, with muted reverb and synths pulling you in, as if you’re both floating aimlessly underwater. “Oxygen” submerges you in the same space as the artist who, to great effect, seemingly runs out of breath in the stirring chorus: “Live off you, live off you / ’Cause you’re mine / Oxygen.” This is Wang’s fourth single, proof of his growth since flying solo in 2017 with the sensational “Papillon.” —ICC

“I’M NOT IN LOVE”
Kelsey Lu

Kelsey Lu’s “I’m Not In Love” is a kaleidoscopic iteration of the English band 10cc’s most iconic number. While it’s the slow build and innovative layering of backing vocals that made 10cc’s ’70s original a hit—and subsequently made it endure the passing of the decades—Lu flips the script and takes the song to the 21st century for her debut album, “Blood.” Lu sets down layer upon layer of versicolored sound, all while keeping intact the original version’s spirit. It gives one the impression of listening to the song within the chambers of one’s own heart as it hammers out in feigned indifference, “I’m not in love.” Sometimes the cost of love could be as simple as owning up to it. —ELW

“PRETENDER”
Official
HIGE DANdism

Frontman Satoshi Fujiwara sings in Nihongo but the range and cadence
—each blistering line or prolonged high note delivered by his robust teen-pop vocals—would make “Pretender” seem comprehensible even to non-Japanese. (The single officially drops May 15 in the physical music market of CD-obsessed Japan.) A gifted songwriter, Fujiwara has crafted a piece that’s lyrical and laden with catchy riffs, as in the pop-rock band Higedan’s previous hits. You’ll find yourself singing along as earnestly as Fujiwara, whether or not you commiserate with the subject of the song—a forlorn lover reflecting on the impermanence of romance and how, had the relationship prevailed, it would have been at the cost of subjecting oneself to heavy pretence. –FK

“LOWKEY”
NIKI

The Indonesian wonder proves that she is anything but low-key with her first single of the year. Released last month, the R&B gem features the 20-year-old’s silky voice accompanied by nostalgic and sultry beats, but still maintaining the NIKI trademark mix of sweet yet seductive. NIKI takes a relaxed approach as she croons about keeping an exciting new romance under wraps. Her vocals are alluring, even hypnotic, and you would cling onto everything she says. The catchy chorus bears the repeated message, keep the love low-key. It’s the pros and cons of a new relationship, rolled into one hazy club track: “No one’s gotta know, just us and the moon ’til the sun starts wakin’.” Exciting and relatable, this here’s an ode to millennial romance, which most find with the help of liquid courage. —ICC