6. “Shake Me Down” by Cage the Elephant
What I love about this incredible alternative rock song is its crescendo. The song starts out with a slowish melody, and then gradually proceeds to become a thrashing, head-banging jam. Anyway, Cage the Elephant is a American rock five-piece from Bowling Green, Kentucky. They have 3 albums at the moment, but “Shake Me Down” from the second LP, Thank You, Happy Birthday is by far the best and the catchiest.
7. “Bring it Back” by Travis Porter
And now for some rap and hip-hop. Travis Porter is an American rap trio from Decateur, Georgia. I first heard “Bring it Back” in a twerk-heavy choreography music video, and I simply can’t resist its infectious, bootylicious beat. It’s a total nightclub dance song to keep you going all night long. Beware, however – this one is not clean at all. The lyrics are definitely dirty, but I like this as a party tune nonetheless.
8. “Movie” by Hoodie Allen
Hoodie Allen is all about playful, goofy rap. And he sure does have an interesting backstory, too. Allen was born on Long Island, New York and attended the renowned University of Pennsylvania, where he earned degrees in marketing and finance. After graduation, Allen relocated to California to work for Google, believe it or not. He soon began creating and sharing rap music on the internet, and decided to quit his job at Google to focus on music full-time. I kid you not! “Movie” is the first song I heard by Hoodie Allen, coming from his new album People Keep Talking. I enjoy the guitar-infused melody in combination with Allen’s smooth rap flow and a fresh sound.
9. “Sweatpants” and “3005” by Childish Gambino
Do you like your rappers intellectual Renaissance men? Well look no further than Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, himself! A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Childish Gambino is also an actor, writer, comedian, screenwriter, producer, and of course, rapper. In fact, he’s displayed his screenwriting talents on NBC’s 30 Rock and his acting chops as Troy Barnes on Community. But to me, Childish Gambino is first and foremost a musician. These two rap and hip-hop gems are taken from Childish Gambino’s latest studio album, Because the Internet. (In particular, the music video for “3005” is especially good – it’s creatively filmed entirely on a ferris wheel.) I like “Sweatpants” and “3005” because they’re smart and fresh rap songs. Gambino has a great flow and he belongs on the radio and on your playlist.
10. “Back in the Day” by Christina Aguilera
A severely underrated gem of a song from a severely underrated album. “Back in the Day,” taken from Xtina’s 2006 album Back to Basics, is a jazzy, bluesy, sexy little tune. It’s a tribute to musicians of the past – Otis Retting, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Brass Night – and how they inspired Christina’s art form. I originally purchased this album because I found the album cover alluring! Give this song – as well as the rest of Back to Basics – a listen.
11. “Moreno Lindo” by Pearls Negras
Let’s take it outside of the United States all the way to Brazil. Pearls Negras is an all-female rap trio from the favela of Vidigal in Rio de Janeiro, forming after meeting in an after-school rap workshop. They make infectious, catchy “trap” music, which is similar to hip-hop with wild beats. They may be just out of their teens, but the Pearls Negras are here to take the world and the blogosphere by storm. “Moreno Lindo” is ripped from their 2014 EP Nossa Gang, and if this is your first introduction to Portuguese-language rap, let this song be it. I’m quite fond of the deep, bass-heavy beat. I don’t know what they’re saying, but that doesn’t hinder my enjoyment of the song.