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New Music Roundup: Rihanna Returns, Taylor Swift Breaks Records and SZA Drops New Single

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There has been no shortage of new music to listen to over the last two weeks. Whether it was The Arctic Monkeys’ subdued return with “The Car” after a four year hiatus, or Baby Keem’s release of seven new songs in “The Melodic Blue (Deluxe),” artists have been making sure their listeners are well fed. 

Rihanna, however, has left listeners starving for more music since her last full-length album, “ANTI,” which was released back in 2016. After six years of waiting, news finally came of Rihanna’s return in anticipation of the latest Marvel Studios film, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which features new music from Rihanna, including her latest single, “Lift Me Up.” 

The song is a stripped back, melancholy homage to Howard University alumnus Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed the titular character, King T’Challa in Ryan Coogler’s 2018 “Black Panther.” Boseman’s passing in August of 2020 left the creatives behind the “Black Panther” follow-up film wondering how to move forward without the main protagonist, a problem that was eventually resolved and will be released for all to see on Nov. 11. 

During a press conference promoting the film, Coogler opened up about why Rihanna decided to exit her six year hiatus and to return to the music industry with a song as non-commercial as “Lift Me Up.” 

“The truth is, once she played us the record, she says straight up, I did this for Chad,” Coogler explained. “It was him. Sitting here, thinking about it, is hitting me right now… Chad brought us all together.” 

Rihanna wasn’t the only artist that dropped highly anticipated music. Just two years after her last album “Evermore” and a slew of remakes/reimaginings of past works, Swift released “Midnights,” as well as “Midnights (3am Edition),” an extended version of the original LP. 

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After just one week, “Midnights” became the highest selling record of 2022, selling over one million copies in just the United States alone. For an artist on her 10th studio album, selling millions of copies in the first seven days of release is rare and a testament to her musical longevity. 

In an interview on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” Swift talked about the album’s conception, as well as the monumental success of the record. 

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“I’m beside myself really,” she said. “It’s a concept record, but it’s my first directly autobiographical album in a while… I’m feeling very overwhelmed by the fans’ love for the record, and I’m also feeling very soft and fragile. The two can exist at once.” 

As if Rihanna and Taylor Swift dropping music wasn’t enough, R&B/Pop singer SZA released a new single titled “Shirt” along with a music video with “Atlanta” and “Sorry to Bother You” actor, LaKeith Stanfield. 

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Back in 2020, the song became a viral TikTok sound when she shared an unreleased snippet of the song on her account. The song garnered more and more attention from TikTok users who decided to use the snippet for dance videos and the song was eventually referred to as “Shirt,” a title that SZA decided to use when releasing the song on Oct. 28, 2022. 

The song finds SZA exploring similar themes she has covered before. Feeling lost in a tumultuous romantic relationship, questioning her partner’s intentions and the negative feelings that come with feeling like the subject of disinterest. 

“In the dark right now/feelin’ lost, but I like it/comfort in my sins and all about me/all I got right now…” 

Among these top new releases, a new Smino album titled “Luv 4 Rent,” The 1975’s latest album, “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” and a new track from JuiceWRLD, “In My Head,” have been released. Upcoming projects to look out for in Nov. are Brockhampton’s final album, “The Family,” Drake and 21 Savage’s delayed album, “Her Loss” and Joji’s latest project, “Smithereens.” 

Copy edited by Jadyn Barnett

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