Slate music: November Spotify playlist for Slate Plus members.

Slate Staff Pick the Best Songs From November

Slate Staff Pick the Best Songs From November

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Nov. 25 2014 3:21 PM
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Listen to Our November Music Roundup

Hot tracks for our fall playlist, exclusively for Slate Plus members.

Photo illustration by Ellie Skrzat. Photos by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images, Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images, and Christopher Polk/Getty Images.
Beyonce, Ariel Pink, Lupe Fiasco, and Willow Smith.

Photo illustration by Ellie Skrzat. Photos by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images, Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images, and Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

Slate’s Brow Beat team covers the latest pop music every day, from Giorgio Moroder to Mary J. Blige to Faith No More. Slate’s critics dig into the state of music: Carl Wilson’s album reviews; Chris Molanphy’s in-depth Billboard chart analysis on Brow Beat; Slate pop critic Jack Hamilton’s sharp Cultureboxes. And, in November, Bryan Lowder spoke with Hans Zimmer about how he scored the universe in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Also, on Brow Beat, Aisha Harris challenged the imperialistic underpinnings of the new “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” remake.

But if you love music, you want more. To help, we’re creating a monthly Spotify playlist exclusively for Slate Plus members. Here, we’ll not only catch you up on the best songs you might’ve missed that month on Slate, but staffers will share a few favorites we might not have covered—yet.

Arca – “Sisters”

For all the conceptual weight and jarring, jagged compositions of Arca’s debut album, Xen, my enjoyment comes first and foremost to the beats. The sometime collaborator of Kanye West (circa Yeezus) and FKA Twigs (Ep2, Lp1) and the future collaborator of Björk (he’s co-producing her next album) has a way with fragmented, free-flying noise, but it sounds best when it’s tethered to a sturdier rhythm. I could pick a few tracks on Xen that provide this (“Lonely Thugg” and “Thievery”). But “Sisters,” with its reggaeton-style rhythm, set just slightly off-kilter, is about as close as this album comes to sunny. I’ve been listening to this album while reading, but this track makes me want to move. — Forrest Wickman, staff writer

Pulp – “Cocaine Socialism”

Pulp’s movie, Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets, came out this month. This track, an earlier version of This Is Hardcore’s anti-anthem “Glory Days,” is an amazingly cynical story song of Jarvis Cocker being wooed by a drug-addled Labour Party functionary to lend his cool association to the party. Like many great Pulp songs, “Cocaine Socialism” dramatically winds up for more than a minute before unleashing its euphoric, sneering power. — Chris Wade, video producer

Tink ft. Rick Ross and Jay Z – “Movin’ Bass”

One of the most promising rappers in the world right now is a teenager out of Chicago who you’ve likely never heard of, and she goes by the name of Tink. Recently, Rick Ross bought one of the songs she and Timbaland worked on together, “Movin’ Bass,” for his new album Hood Billionaire, which meant that for weeks, the bland version of the song you heard removed Tink entirely (and reduced Jay Z’s contributions to a lazy hook). Luckily, Timbaland has revealed what the track originally sounded link, and it’s a showing reminiscent of Nicki Minaj’s turn on “Monster”—which is to say Tink blows away her elders. — Dee Lockett, editorial assistant

Charli XCX ft. Simon Le Bon - “Kingdom”

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A much softer sound than we usually hear from Charli, but still with a bit of an edge. The tinkling piano runs and ethereal vocals go beautifully together. — Aisha Harris, staff writer

Ariel Pink – “Dinosaur Carebears”

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To paraphrase from Jack Kerouac, “The only Ariel Pink songs for me are the mad ones,” and Pom Pom thankfully has its fair share. The tracks I keep coming back to highlight the cacophonies of California lo-fi pop, carnival ambiance, and sounds that can only be described as straight off the Teletubbies cutting room floor. — Ellie Skrzat, photo intern

Willow Smith ft. SZA – “9”

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Willow is no longer making obvious middle school bops like “Whip My Hair” (which, to be clear, I loved) these days. For her new EP, 3, she’s on her Erykah Badu steez, and its best song, “9,” has her rap-singing about being “tied up in this love thing” alongside one of my favorite voices in R&B right now, SZA, over a serene, chilled-out beat. — Lockett

Nick Jonas ft. Tinashe – “Jealous”

Did that Jonas brother just drop an F-bomb? Jonas’ debut as a Disney-heartthrob-turned-R&B-up-and-comer (see: Timberlake, Justin) isn’t exactly Justified, but “Jealous” finds Jonas’ smooth croon sounding right at home in the song’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home”-style ’80s throwback groove. For the remix, the addition of fellow up-and-comer Tinashe brings things more firmly into 2014, and suddenly this song—which has been finding new fans since September—has new life. — Wickman

Alasdair Roberts – “My Artless One”

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Alasdair Roberts has been mining the deeps of Scottish folk music with original songs since back with his ’90s band Appendix Out, and what he hauls up becomes more stunning by the year. This preview track from his forthcoming eponymous album on Drag City has none of the boom and clap of the late-season pop frenzy. But its tribute to taking respite in sympathetic company beneath woolen covers is sensuous and sinewy and utterly suitable for late November. I include it here hoping it will wean you off your aversion to flutes and Renaissance-ish ladies’ chorales, but mainly to seduce you towards better means than mall stampedes to remedy a holiday-weekend tryptophan hangover. — Carl Wilson, music critic

Usher – “Clueless”

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While the production is sparse and perhaps a bit stagnant, I’m really happy to hear that Usher’s going back to a more soulful R&B sound (as he did with “Good Kisser” earlier this year) rather than the subpar Euro-influenced dance music he embraced for a period. The vocals here are top-notch, and the chorus is quite catchy. — Harris

Lupe Fiasco ft. Ty Dolla Sign – “Deliver”

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I knew this song would end up as one of my picks for this playlist long before the Ferguson grand jury’s decision on Darren Wilson’s indictment was announced Monday night. With that real-world parallel, though, Lupe’s prescient words about America’s broken racial politics take on a new life. When played over footage of the split-screen juxtaposition between President Obama’s absentminded speech on the decision and the simultaneous rioting on Ferguson’s streets, it’s quite unnerving. — Lockett

Colleen Green – “Pay Attention”

Colleen Green is like all four Ramones ground up into a fat bowl and smoked alone in the basement, but she’s also an introspective girl with a drum machine. Green put out one of my favorite records last year with Sock It to Me, an infectious collection of one-girl-one-drum-machine stoner punk tinged with surprising sweetness and sadness that affected me so much I went out and got the drum machine she made it with. Now she’s back with a full band and the same simultaneously laid-back and muscular pop-punk jams. Only, better. — Wade

Beyoncé – “7/11”

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I will admit that I’ve only listened to this song while watching the music video, but I have watched it at least 40 times and highly doubt that when I start listening to the song alone it will be any less current, sexy, or powerful. This song was the first thing to make me feel excited about 2015. May it carry us through the winter. — Skrzat