Chloe and Halle Are in a League of Their Own

Y/NY/N is a guide to the week’s music releases based on our highly scientific, non-subjective Yes/No rating system.

There aren’t the words in any known human language: Chloe x Halle, “Do It” - As the protégés of the most groundbreaking artist of the last two centuries, Chloe and Halle are often described as the second coming of Beyoncé. I’ll get it out of the way up top: They’re not—they’re whatever it is that comes next. “Do It” is a magnificent entry in a year starved of innovative sounds, a showcase of the body-breaking work these sisters have poured into their craft since Beyoncé signed them to Parkwood Entertainment in 2013. Rich, complex harmonies float over a beat both familiar and fresh. Combined with their signature, syncopating vocals, “Do It” is an instant club hit. (No matter that, for the conceivable future, we’ll be dancing to this alone.)

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Chloe x Halle can never be the “next” Beyoncé because their artistic mentor came at an unreplicable time in the music industry. But isn’t that such a limiting categorization, anyway? Watching the above video, how can it be denied that they’re an evolution in the lineage of Queen Bey. The fact that they’re sisters, talents multiplied exponentially by each other, utterly collapses the comparison. These two are in a league of their own. —Joan Summers


Sure, why not: Katy Perry, “Daisies” - The new, confounding era of Katy Perry continues. However, “Daisies,” is the best offering yet from her forthcoming fifth album. In classic Perry fashion, it is a feel-good self-empowerment anthem, but this time it’s delivered with some skepticism—she sings about once taking “those sticks and stones,” thrown at her and showing “‘em I could build a house” but doubts herself in the pre-chorus: “I’m the long shot/I’m the Hail Mary/Why can’t it be me?” It reads like someone desiring success, maybe even close to finding it, or in Perry’s case, on the verge of losing it—cloaked behind a message of staying true to yourself until death. I admire the tension. Clearly, there’s frustration here, which is as strong a motivator than any emotion. And I’d expect this would partner well with a Netflix teen rom-com in 2021. —Maria Sherman

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Yeah: The 1975, “Guys” - The 1975's brand of easy listening pop-rock has never totally struck a chord with me. I like it fine, and on an extramusical level, I’ve always respected frontman Matty Healy’s evolving, progressive views. And then they released “Guys,” a sentimental dream pop-ode from the band to the band—a platonic love song to Healy’s “guys.” J’adore a romance nod to friendship, sometimes, as he sings, those people “are the best thing that ever happened to me.” —MS


Y: Brockhampton, “things can’t stay the same” - May the world’s first hip-hop collective/boy band hybrid hit this hard forevermore, Amen. “things can’t stay the same” samples a 10-minute, unreleased Big L/Jay-Z freestyle, an obscure reference for even the most knowledgable fan—they’ve always worn their influences on their sleeve, and this track, the first since 2019's Ginger, is no different. I’ve never tired of their ability to innovate from those they admire. —MS

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100 percent Yes: CHAI, “Ready Cheeky Pretty” - I can’t hear Japanese punk-poppers CHAI sing, “Imperfect is perfect,” without thinking of Tyra Banks’s infamous “Perfect is boring” line from her America’s Next Top Model days, and maybe there’s a reason for that—both leave an impression. “Ready Cheeky Pretty” is a high energy self-esteem boost centered around a very simple and impactful chorus: “Keep it re-al/Let’s free your instinct.” Let’s. —MS

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Indubitably: Kehlani featuring Masego, “Hate the Club” - Few of Kehlani’s R&B contemporaries share her keen sense of melody, and virtually no one is as devoted to the majesty of harmony. These two factors give her a distinctly 90s sensibility, but she manages to sound fresh through the subtlety with which she deploys them. Her latest album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t, is tastefully raw, an album of slow jams that don’t throw back explicitly, per se, but remind. I could have chosen anything from the last half (and a lot of its first) of my favorite R&B album in I don’t even know how long (years? decades?), but I’m going with “Hate the Club,” for its husky bridge and Masego’s terrific sax work, particularly the solo that closes out the track. During a shelter in place order, the song’s anti-club sentiment is a moot point, but Kehlani’s passion could make you believe that nothing is more relevant than the words she sings. A triumph. —Rich Juzwiak

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DISCUSSION

A kind of weak offering this week.  “Guys” sounds like something out of, well, 1975.  Well, actually, probably late 70's/early 80's, but you get the picture.  It’s like Christopher Cross and Bryan Adams had a baby.