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Beyoncé Delivers ‘The Gift’ and Charli XCX Is “Gone”

Also in our So Necessary music roundup: new tracks from Maxo Kream with ScHoolBoy Q, girl in red, Baby Keem, and Ed Sheeran with Young Thug and J Hus

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Because he has nothing better to do with his time, each Friday, Micah Peters riffs on the most awe-inspiring, confounding, addictive, or otherwise hilarious moments from the week in music. This week:

Charli XCX and Christine and the Queens’ Freakout on “Gone”

It sounds huge from the beginning—baying synths and a drum pattern that zips back and forth across them. There’s a lot of sexy writhing in the video, and also a lot of ropes that bind Charli XCX and Christine—as it goes on, they get increasingly more free. Charli XCX, on Instagram, said this song is about the times you feel alone with other people, and the abiding anxieties of those moments. The occasional freakout is a necessary condition of sanity. Just before “Gone” opens up into its Big Pop Chorus, Charli sings, satisfyingly, “I feel so unstable, fucking hate these people.”

Everything About Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s “Nile”

Much in the way that Black Panther The Album was inspired by the titular movie but not necessarily of it, The Lion King: The Gift is a companion album to that remake you’re going to end up seeing this weekend. However you feel about your favorites from your formative years being ported to CGI, The Gift is a genuine event. It’s a curatorial project featuring everyone you can think of, employing every style you can think of, and treating each idea with singular focus. “Nile” hews to the theme here, but feels like it could exist on something other than a Lion King album. At just under two minutes, it also feels too short.

The Spiraling of girl in red on “I’ll die anyway.”

There’s something equally disquieting and reassuring about the way 20-year-old Marie Ulven, who goes by girl in red, puts herself at ease with the never-knowing. I mean knowing in the general sense: “Accepting I’m pointless, isn’t the hardest” she sings on her latest song, as the New-Wave-ish guitars lap up against the bridge. The whole song sways in the breeze, like a low-hanging branch on a late summer day. In the video, grainy home movies are cut with present-day shots of Ulven gazing blankly into her laptop. I’m taken with how embarrassed she seems to be about considering her place in the universe—as if she knows that in the grand scheme of everything, one person can’t really do much damage. And still, she stays up nights considering the “countless questions.” “Go back to sleep,” she sings, rescuing herself from the spiral.

ScHoolBoy Q on Maxo Kream’s “3AM”

DJ Paul produced this—is that a Lord Infamous sample? Triple-Six? Either way, it’s alarming and sounds like the call that’s coming from inside the house. Maxo has fully come into his own as a storyteller on Brandon Banks, and more than that, he’s taken a running leap in terms of songcraft. He’s even better at wielding his choppy, gravelly flow like an instrument, and his ear for production has only gotten better. That said, when ScHoolBoy Q cleaves the door open with a chainsaw halfway through the album, on “3AM,” it’s the first time I can say I really stood at attention: “OK my blunt? Lace it, gone face it / Non classic? Gon crack it / Word of mouth that gang raised me.” By the end of the song you’ll be fully primed and ready to do some crimes. Or go outside and just fight random people for a bit.

Baby Keem’s Brand New Impression on “My Ex”

Keem has a number of teeth-rattling trap numbers on his newest project, amazingly titled Die for My Bitch, but the most head-spinning record has no drums. “My Ex” is a great version of stuff that’s already out there—it’s a saccharine pop-rock number from a rapper, but the writing is just a tad better, and Keem’s voice can be more naked in the mix because, well, he can sing. More than that, although he’s singing about aborted attempts at intimacy he still sounds like he’s having so much fun.

BONUS: Young Thug and J Hus on Ed Sheeran’s “Feels”

Washington Post music writer Chris Richards pointed out that the new Ed Sheeran album amounts to “a hostage situation,” and most of the collaborations do feel transactional, and are thus kind of embarrassing, for everyone involved. Everyone involved will still make lots of money. “Feels” can be only so good—“baby I got the feels for ya” is just unconscionable—but there’s no way a song featuring both J Hus and Young Thug can be bad, you know?