Song of the Week: Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak Play It Smooth as Silk Sonic on “Leave the Door Open”

St. Vincent, Japanese Breakfast, and Wesley Joseph also turned heads this week

Silk Sonic
Silk Sonic

Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak dropped their first single as Silk Sonic.

Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak have teamed up under the name Silk Sonic, which seems to have been a good name choice. Their first single, “Leave the Door Open”, is nothing if not luxurious, velvety goodness. The full-length project, An Evening with Silk Sonic, reunites the two artists who previously toured together with .Paak as an opening act on Bruno Mars’ 2017 “24K Magic World Tour”. Sonically, “Leave the Door Open” is a return to form for Bruno Mars, who has carved out his own 21st century niche for ‘70s vibes. This track turns the dial down with a smooth slow jam, not unlike past songs from Mars like “Versace on the Floor” or “That’s What I Like”.

It probably should have been illegal for the two to drop a track like this in such a time of overall yearning. (Congrats to people not experiencing singleness on the new song.) Things kick off with Anderson .Paak’s raspy vocals setting the scene: “We should be dancin’, romancin’/ In the east wing and the west wing of this mansion.” Bruno slides into the chorus, promising to leave the door open before landing with the hook, “I’m hopin’, hopin’ that you feel the way I feel/ And you want me like I want you tonight.” Overall, the song wouldn’t feel out of place on Bruno Mars’ critically and commercially beloved 2016 24K Magic album — why mess with a great thing, after all?

The playful music video, set in a neutral-toned, warm, carpeted studio, keeps the ‘70s energy front and center. If this is a window into what is to come from the duo’s full album (yet to confirm a release date), the project might be exactly what was expected after it was initially announced: jazzy, confident, nostalgic. Playing (literally) into expectations and releasing music that’s comforting and familiar might be just what we all need, though — we’ve had more than enough surprises over the past year.

–Mary Siroky
Contributing Writer

Honorable Mentions

Japanese Breakfast – “Be Sweet”

Michelle Zauner has announced a new Japanese Breakfast album called Jubilee, due out June 4th via Dead Oceans. This week, Zauner is getting the party started with the lead single, “Be Sweet”. The song announces its funky intentions with a strutting bass line and toe-tapping drums. “Tell the men I’m coming,” Zauner sings. “Tell them count the days/ I can feel the night passing by like a mistake waiting for me.” “Be Sweet” is accompanied with an X-Files-inspired video directed by Zauner herself. It shows a character called Shelly Breakfast and her big-haired partner Missy as they flash their FBI badges in the pursuit of alien life. –Wren Graves

Wesley Joseph – “Thrilla”

Twenty-three-year-old UK rapper Wesley Joseph has released “Thrilla”, his first new song of 2021. The booming track is co-produced by Jai Paul collaborator Lexxx and Joseph himself. “Thrilla” is propelled by a heavy 808, but the production is also layered with funk-inspired guitar licks and gothic strings. In an interview with BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac, Joseph said he freestyled the song’s lyrics while drunk “off the rum and orange juice.” Accordingly, most of the track features swaggering rhymes, but Joseph also gets introspective at times. “Visions in my dreams, who do you believe / They fear the change,” he raps. “Looking hollow tomorrow, dividing barricades / Thought I saw the future coming close but that was yesterday.”

“The name ‘Thrilla’ literally comes from that gassed drunk freestyle and it just stuck — the song is true to that bigger-than-life feeling you get in those moments,” Joseph explained to Mac. “Six months passed and I had started to slowly take the song apart to restructure it with absolute attention to detail. I wanted to make something that felt big, but also had depth and a sense of journey to it.” Mission accomplished. –Eddie Fu

St. Vincent – “Pay Your Way in Pain”

St. Vincent has officially announced highly anticipated sixth album Daddy’s Home. The 11-track LP arrives May 14th via Loma Vista Recordings, and you can catch a preview with lead single “Pay Your Way in Pain”. Over funky, sludgy synths, Clark sketches out lyrical stress dreams: going to the store only to realize you don’t have money, traveling to the bank only to find you don’t have an account, and returning home only to discover that “all the locks were changed.” When it comes to the hook, Clark starts by herself with, “You’ve got to…” and is joined by a rapturous chorus for the word “Pay!” It happens again after Clark continues, “Your way in…” so that the word “Pain!” sounds like a heavenly release. –Wren Graves

The Streets – “Who’s Got the Bag (21st June)”

Last year, the never-ending bleakness of the coronavirus pandemic prompted The Streets to release a mixtape with the ominous title of None of Us Are Getting Out of This Life Alive. Now that things are actually looking up in the UK, project mastermind Mike Skinner is ready to celebrate with a positive mood and a new single called “Who’s Got the Bag (21st June)”. “It’s been too long since I’ve been behind some decks, or on a stage, in a tour bus sleeping in a bunk,” said Skinner in a statement. “The moment we can do it we want to be the rave and we will. It’s also about hospitality, events and nightclubs not being able to take anymore. It’s a protest song, it’s saying, don’t change the date on us again! FIRST IN THE ROOM. 21 June.” It’s clear Skinner concocted “Who’s Got The Bag (21st June)” with the intent of it being blasted at full volume when the UK’s lockdown is lifted that very day. Over a crisp percussion loop and an EDM-style synth part, Skinner does The Streets moniker well with a call to arms for music fans to go crazy dancing. “First in the room/ Thirsting from noon/ Herbalist fumes/ Where’s me balloon?” he raps, at one point even shooing away Zoom meetings. –Nina Corcoran

Dr. Lonnie Smith – “Sunshine Superman” (feat. Iggy Pop)

Iggy Pop and jazz icon Dr. Lonnie Smith have teamed up for a cover of Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman”. The track is taken from Smith’s new album, Breathe, which is out later this month. It might seem like an odd pairing for rough-and-tough proto-punk legend and a Hammond B3 organist to join forces for a cover of a classic psych-rock tune — and it is, but it also comes together shockingly well. Smith and his bandmates give the song a loungey, tropical makeover while Pop offers an uncommonly sweet and sultry vocal performance for a man of his gritty stature. The way Smith tells it in a statement, the whole process seemed like a quick and organic happy accident. “I was playing with my trio at Arts Garage in Delray Beach in Florida,” Smith said. “Iggy would come by and say he wanted to play with me. I let him play slaparoo, and he loved it. He enjoyed playing with us. We thought about recording a few songs, so we went in with my trio backing us up, and it worked.” –Eli Enis

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