“The Time is Now” by Moloko – 2000
This track is a movie within itself and a perfect opening to a new season of risk taking. Fall has reared its glorious head, and to me, a tune like this is a poetic and fresh approach to embark on a new era. This song released by then Irish-English electronic duo Moloko was initially a standout hit, and still holds all of its sophistication now. It’s a social listen every time as the track takes the listener on a slow rise guitar-laced disco journey, with orchestral strings and the luscious voice of Moloko’s lead, Róisín Murphy.
With lyrics like, “Give up yourself unto the moment, the time is now,” and “tempted by fate and I won’t hesitate, the time is now and I can’t blame it,” the song encourages its listeners to respond to their intuition to try something new — a relationship, a project, or a new hair color perhaps — and to be in the moment of a new journey no matter what life brings.
“Hold the Girl” by Rina Sawayama – 2022
Breakout pop star, Rina Sawayama, who was famously tapped by both Elton John and Lady Gaga, has done it again. The standout track of her brand new album of the same name, “Hold The Girl,” is a message of being careful with our inner child and comforting them from the traumas of the past: “Moving on, maybe I never will, ’cause I left you spinning on the carousel/ Then I remember who l’m really made of, and she’s been hide-and-seeking, waiting all along.”
The song and the album alike are a testament of genuine forgiveness, healing, and unapologetic queerness. Also, the song features a modulation in key, which is an A+ in pop music 101. The power pop ballad is a radio ready hit that would have artists of pop-past proud of the mark she is currently making.
“Don’t Tell Me” by Madonna – 2000
I bought cowboy boots this week, so this song was a definite mood for me. “Don’t Tell Me” by Madonna is what I am currently living: an obsession with country/western aesthetic but integrating funk and innuendo. Track seven of Madonna’s album “Music” — which was the single that tied Madonna with The Beatles for the second-most top-ten singles in Hot 100 history according to Genius.com — bestowed the title to Madonna as the first to successfully start the ‘Folktronica” sound.
In the song, Madonna is telling the person she loves not to change the person she has come to be, but acknowledge the person she is: “Tell me love isn’t true, it’s just something that we do, tell me everything I’m not, but please don’t tell me to stop.”
“Yellow Brick Road” by Sudan Archives – 2022
Track seventeen on Sudan Archives’ acclaimed sophomore album, “Natural Brown Prom Queen,” tells the story of a relationship that hopes to start on a fresh page when the morning comes. Brittney Denise Parks, who goes by Sudan Archives, wants her relationship to work out as she looks to the good times to get a sense of inspiration to make everything work: “Back to the streets that’s dipped in gold, and right when it feels like home, we go.”
Everyone knows that couple that don’t seem likely to last together due to their stacks of troubles, but continue to hold it out due to their history: “Your strong sense of justice is what they’re afraid of, and one day, they’ll write a big novel about us.” It’s a cute bite of a song that will have you tap-walking to and from class.
“Aislamiento” by Rosalía – 2022
As a bonus track of Rosalía’s favored album, “Motomami,” “Aislamiento,” meaning isolation, is perfect, and I’m glad she decided to release the masterpiece. The song fits that scene you make in your head: shiny pitch-black sunglasses, hoodie up, trying to hide from the press to avoid a PR fiasco. Rosalía paints the picture of her sometimes-gray reality that comes with fame. Putting your head down, riding solo and remaining is the only thing we can do to keep ourselves sane from the anxieties of life.
“Harmony” by Francis Inferno Orchestra – 2015
Released in 2015 by Australian SoundCloud-famous DJ Francis Inferno Orchestra, the track features an excellent sample of the song “Aspetti musicali” by Alessandro Alessandroni. If you didn’t know, I am a sucker for a reference or sample. This five-minute track allows the mind to wander as memories start to ebb and flow like the strings featured in the song. If the sunset was reduced to a sound, “Harmony” fits the bill.