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So Necessary: In Which Donald Glover Brings Garth Brooks’s Alter Ego Back to Life

Childish Gambino covered Chris Gaines of all things on ‘Like a Version.’ Plus: Drake breaks out his old Instagram-caption hits and Clairo finds her perfect match with Rostam.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

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


Childish Gambino covering Chris Gaines (!) on Like a Version

So here’s yet another story from 1999: That year, at the height of his popularity, Garth Brooks, richly successful country megastar, took up method acting. He played a character named Chris Gaines, an Australian pop star with an oddly Southern American twang, a soul patch, a penchant for black clothing, and a starring role in a forthcoming movie called The Lamb. The film only ever existed as “forthcoming,” but The Life of Chris Gaines eventually went double platinum. So, of course, when Donald Glover graced Australian radio station Triple J’s Like A Version again this past week, he covered “Lost in You,” the fake Brisbane native’s highest-performing single, which peaked at no. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Glover captures the sickly sweetness of the original, but around two minutes and 20 seconds in, the keyboardist damn near steals the show.

Joy Again doing it to themselves on “Couldn’t”

When I first found West Philadelphia indie pop outfit Joy Again on a friend’s Tumblr page, it felt like music that was missing from my gawky formative years. It was spastic but measured, both raw and refined. “Kim” is a doomed romance in miniature, a short song that articulates how grand and dramatic and mortifying nascent love can be. It is so much fun to scream-sing “and IIiiiiIIIiiIiiiIi don’t wanna DIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEE.”

“Couldn’t,” from the band’s impending Piano EP, is a further demonstration of their most compelling strength—the ability to stew in complex, co-occurring emotions that come along with attaching yourself to other people. They’re just so good at it. There’s a bit right at the end of “Couldn’t” where the production thins out, giving way to some quaint picking guitar, while lead singer Arthur Shea thinks aloud: “gotta think about it twice / my head hurts, I won’t get no sleep tonight / you’re gone but I think about you nightly / I hope you can stay and still be happy.”

Clairo dancing atop her own voice on “Sofia”

Just about every part of Clairo’s range is on display in “Sofia,” a lovelorn ballad pulled apart at the seams by Rostam and reassembled into a stomping pop record. With about 30 seconds left, the song ascends into outer space, as Clairo pushes back against Sofia’s light protestations, over her own voice, which is processed and rearranged to treacly perfection. “I think we can do it if we tried,” she sings, and though it feels kind of trite to say so, you can tell she really believes it.

Remembering Drake’s “Free Spirit”

This week, Drake afforded everyone the opportunity to remember just how embarrassing they were six to seven years ago with Care Package, a compilation of loosies dumped here and there at strange hours over the years. Of the songs Drake made about what he wished the women in his life would do in his absence, “Free Spirit” is the one that made me feel coolest.

It’s tough to see it as anything other than funny now, especially when you consider that someone actually tattooed Drake’s name in block collegiate lettering on their forehead, and that Drake pulled up on the tattoo artist in question. Strange times.

Channel Tres’s whisper flow on “Black Moses”

Channel Tres’s voice has a false bottom; it sounds even deeper next to JPEGMAFIA, whose voice is positively reedy by comparison. Peggy is smooth, Tres is as cold as ice as he slides along the tinny production, barely picking his feet up off of the ground: “Ain’t about me, ain’t about me / Gotta cook it up ’cause my niggas hungry.”

BONUS: Dolph talking the finest shit on “Black Loccs”

I cannot end this column without appreciating Young Dolph’s preposterous handle on homespun, surface-level shit-talk. When he says “You wasn’t raised like me / Shut the fuck up and be quiet,” you feel that expletive deep in your soul.