What to Listen to in March: 4 Album and Song Picks from Local DJs
Refresh your emotional soundtrack with an upbeat breakup album, the timeless tunes of Quincy Jones and haunting melodies from a 16-year-old songstress.
Spring showers mean more time inside with good books, favorite movies and extra hours to contemplate what the gray skies are doing for our many moods. Now you just need a good soundtrack for all of that.
We asked DJs and other music experts from Pacific Media Group, the parent company of radio stations 102.7 Da Bomb, the New HI93.1, 94.7 KUMU and others, what they’re listening to right now.
I’m vegging out one night on YouTube, doing that thing when you click on one interesting video and it leads to the next, and so on. Thirty-seven videos later, I see this fresh-faced girl. Click. I’ve been listening to Lucy Thomas’ music ever since. She looks like she belongs in a light-hearted Disney movie but she sounds like a seasoned music veteran. Her two albums, Encore and Premiere, are full of mostly remakes including The Greatest Showman songs, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Broadway show tunes. She not only pulls it off, she sounds amazing. Not bad for a 16-year-old Brit from Lancashire. The track I’m drawn to most is “Run.” It was a big hit for Snow Patrol in the UK but Thomas’ version is based on Leona Lewis’ cover. It’s subtle, haunting and powerful.—Michael T. with 94.7 KUMU
Breakups suck. On her latest album, Lindsay Ell does a remarkable job of charting the seven steps most of us go through after a relationship ends, from denial and bargaining to acceptance and hope. If you’re thinking, “great, ANOTHER album of sad songs,” you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the tempo, which is, dare I say, rocking. It starts with “Hits Me,” a guitar-driven pop song about dealing with waves of grief. The rest of the songs continue to take you through the emotions you experience when your heart breaks, including coming out on the other side in “Ready to Love.” For some reason, Ell’s work is categorized as country, but I would say that it’s got more in common with Taylor Swift’s new pop direction. It is a solid, infinitely hummable “concept” album that will take you back through your last bad breakup. And yes, that’s a good thing.—Devon Nekoba, weekdays 5–10 a.m. on 94.7 KUMU
Q: Soul Bossa Nostra
The best music is timeless and the best music makers transcend decades: Elvis, Sinatra, Michael, Aretha. And then there’s Quincy Jones. I stumbled upon the 2010 album Soul Bossa Nostra, which is a tribute to Q comprised of songs that he had a hand in. You’ll recognize a lot of the titles—including TV themes and Top 40 hits as well as a few hidden gems—all redone by artists that run the gamut from Amy Winehouse to Akon to Jennifer Hudson to John Legend. The very first track tells you everything you need to know; it’s a contemporary version of the theme song from Ironside, a police show from the ’60s and ’70s. Complete with an appearance from rapper Talib Kweli, it has rap, jazz and soul all wrapped up in one song.—Michael T
SEE ALSO: 50 Greatest Songs of Hawai‘i
I love catchy pop songs. So, when an artist like Dua Lipa hits the radio with a new one, I listen. Her latest single “Levitating” is a mix of pop, a hint of rap and is loaded with brain-invading hooks. If you want more, there’s a version that features rapper DaBaby. Dua Lipa’s parents fled their homeland of Kosovo during the Yugoslav wars and landed in London. She started as a model then switched to music in 2017. Her lower, huskier voice is atypical for a pop singer but has earned multiple awards, including a Grammy for Best New Artist in 2019.—Michael T