Deeply kooky but very enjoyable: Ariana Grande, “God Is A Woman” - Obviously, the video for Ariana Grande’s latest single opens with a shot of her hula-hooping at the center of a faraway galaxy and gets weirder from there. This is an over-the-top, bombastic, overtly symbolic Ariana like we’ve never seen before; at various points, she literally towers, solemnly, over her haters, now immune to the burly men who hurl the word “bitch” at her, walks a tightrope across a valley of pins and needles, and shatters a glass ceiling from below with the help of her superhuman strength and a comically large gavel. In the more abstract scenes, Grande lurks in colorfully painted waters, drifts through the stars, dips her hand into the Earth’s atmosphere. Women seem to both represent the world and create it over and over. There’s a lot going on.
Think about it too long and things start to fall apart—so don’t. Like a lot of Grande’s songs, “God Is A Woman” is likely an ode to mindblowingly orgasmic sex—but it’s also definitely a public service announcement about her capacity for rage. In the middle, Madonna’s voice projects from Ari’s tiny body, reciting the Ezekiel 25:17 line from Pulp Fiction. The original goes, “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers.” But here Madonna swaps out “brothers” for “sisters.” She can’t spell it out any clearer, folks. Then Ari swings left, swings right, and launches a gavel almost as big as she is at the sky. —Frida Garza
Y: Kacey Musgraves, “High Horse” - Twenty seconds into hearing “High Horse” for the first time, I thought, “Wow this is the song of the summer.” A sort of hoedown-at-the-disco, it’s the closest Musgraves has come so far to a full-on crossover—and, admittedly, as close as I ever want her to get. After two awkward and disappointing videos for her first Golden Hour singles (the heartbreakingly clever “Space Cowboy” and its inverse, “Butterflies”), she’s finally delivered one that lives up to its song.
“High Horse” places its disdain for terrible men in an office environment, and leans into its late-’70s vibes (it’s the perfect decade for her, style-wise) with a not-so-subtle homage to 9 to 5. She lassos a shitty boss, does karaoke with a bedazzled microphone, and dons a familiar rainbow dress. This is the video Kacey Stans have wanted since the magical Golden Hour was released this spring. —Bobby Finger
Y: Kali Uchis’s cover of Kanye West’s “Paranoid” - As it stands, “Paranoid” was a scorned man’s twitchy, threatening excoriation of a woman, about fighting and trying not to break up. Kali Uchis turned it into a sultry late-night boudoir record that sounds more like a concerned lover quietly, lovingly silencing her partner’s doubt. —Clover Hope
Awful: Lil Kim, “Nasty One” - It’s long past the point where I genuinely desire to hear a Lil Kim song, or where a Lil Kim song makes me happy in any way. I kinda expect every new record of Lil Kim’s to be disappointing, lackluster, unnecessary or try-hard, and this one is no different. This is her rapping and singing in patois (“Come fall in love with the nastiest one”) about why you should be enamored with her. Needs better convincing. —CH
Not really: Benny Blanco, “Eastside” feat. Halsey and Khalid - This song gives new credence to the phrase offensively inoffensive. The hook bops, at moments, but for the most part, “Eastside” sounds like baby music for babies. Also, the synth in the intro is a blatant rip-off of My Chemical Romance’s iconic “Welcome to the Black Parade” opening. Respect your goth elders, Blanco. —Maria Sherman
Y: Christine and the Queens, “Doesn’t Matter” – For whatever reason, I hadn’t been able to get into Christine and the Queens’ music until this video popped up on my social feed. The video is fine, but the song is very tight and witchy, my favorite genre of dance-pop banger: Are they questioning their belief in God, or are they just horny? The switch that occurs around 2:25 is around one of the best moments in pop this year, right after when the beat kicks in during “Heard About Us.” —Claire Shaffer