The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

On Repeat: Promising singles that tease upcoming albums from industry icons

These recently released tracks will leave you waiting for more

<p>All of these tracks include a bold statement from each artist while signifying a brand new era.</p>

All of these tracks include a bold statement from each artist while signifying a brand new era.

This year is proving to be a major and transformative one for popular music, with industry titans like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé and more all announcing albums set to drop this spring. Some of these artists have already released lead singles to grow the already significant anticipation for these upcoming projects.

While each single is sonically unique, they collectively signify the same thing — a new era for an established artist that diverges from their regular work and historic discography. Whether it be a fierce statement, a defense of character or insight into a vulnerable journey, each single tells a story and simultaneously marks the emergence of a fresh new era from a beloved powerhouse artist.

“16 CARRIAGES” and “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” by Beyoncé

In an unexpected and somewhat shocking fashion, Beyoncé announced the release of new music in a Verizon commercial aired during the Super Bowl 58. The music in question is a new country music album titled “Act II” set to drop March 29. Ahead of this March release, Beyoncé has shared “16 CARRIAGES” and “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM,” two singles that give a small look into what “Act II” will have to offer. 

“16 CARRIAGES” is a heartfelt and emotional ballad about dreams, opportunity and memory. The track features Beyoncé’s soulful sound accompanied with typical country-esque guitar strums, both of which crescendo together into a harmonic exhibition of her vocals. “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” is a more literal take on the genre, while still employing layered harmonies and background vocals that are reminiscent of her R&B signature. 

For many, country music and Beyoncé are not a natural pairing — the singer typically creates music within the genres of Pop, R&B or Soul. Even though “16 CARRIAGES” and “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” are more country-inspired than a full-fledged representation of the genre, they are not her first rodeo in the country music category. The track “Daddy Lessons” from “Lemonade” is where Beyoncé first exhibited her Texan roots, and fans can expect more of this sound in “Act II”

“Yes, and?” by Ariana Grande

After years of anticipation, a style overhaul and a bout of recent controversy, famed pop singer Ariana Grande announced that her seventh studio album “Eternal Sunshine” will be released March 8. After reports that Grande was entangled with one of her co-stars from the upcoming “Wicked” movie — a man with a wife and a newborn child — the singer was branded a “homewrecker” and chastised for “destroying a family.” 

Always one to respond to public questions about her personal life through her music, via songs like “thank u, next,” Grande released the single “yes, and?” to lead “Eternal Sunshine” and seemingly respond to the attack on her character from the press. 

The track begins with a catchy and synthesized rendition of a sample that has been likened to Madonna’s “Vogue.” After two verses of her falsetto-like vocals, Grande rings in the chorus with the lines "Yes, and? / Say that s--t with your chest … / Keep moving like, what's next.” She continues to sing, “And I'm so done with caring / What you think, no, I won't hide / Underneath your own projections / Or change my most authentic life.”

While critics have been quick to point out that these lyrics seem a little laissez-faire, for Grande, they also spell out a newfound independence and freedom from public opinion. Along with the new 90s dance-pop sound and jazz influence, “yes, and?” foreshadows another open and vulnerable album from Grande. 

“Deeper Well” by Kacey Musgraves 

After a nearly three year hiatus, country music singer Kacey Musgraves announced the release of her sixth studio album “Deeper Well,” to be released March 15, along with a single of the same name. Though she is a multi-platinum and Grammy Award-winning artist, Musgraves had not achieved a number one single until 2023 as a featured artist for Zach Bryan’s “I Remember Everything.” Her recent chart success spells a possible renaissance for the artist and anticipation for her upcoming album. 

The lead single, “Deeper Well” gives listeners a taste of Musgraves’ latest sound. Derived from the phrase, “if your well drives up, dig a deeper well” the track explores the theme of renewal. Musgraves sings about bad habits, self-change and bettering her mental health and happiness by finding a “deeper well.” 

The lyrics are raw, emotional and really bare it all. Musgraves sings, “So I'm gettin' rid of the habits that I feel / Are real good at wastin' my time.” She speaks on what growing up has taught her and reconciles with her past — “I’ve gotten older, now I know / How to take care of myself / I’ve found a deeper well.”

With an untraditional verse layout, skirting the usual verse and chorus structure in favor of continuous verse, Musgraves conveys the song’s strong emotion by structuring it more like an open conversation. The production of the song itself is more stripped down, again playing on the vulnerability of the track. The album will likely be a further exploration of these themes and show how Musgraves dug a deeper well. 

“Cobra” and “HISS” by Megan Thee Stallion

Perhaps the most controversial of the newly released tracks are “HISS” and the lesser known “Cobra” by Megan Thee Stallion. “Cobra,” released in late 2023, marked the first single of a new era. The track featured a snake motif reminiscent of Taylor Swift’s album “Reputation,” with the cover art and subsequent music video featuring the singer as a snake shedding her skin.

What makes “Cobra” a track of interest is its unique infusion of a rock-n-roll electric guitar riff into a rap track, and its surprising lyrics about mental health. While Megan Thee Stallion raps about her personal struggles, a biting and fierce electric guitar riff matches the power of her words. She sings, “Breaking down and I had the whole world watching … / Every night I cried, I almost died / And nobody close tried to stop me.”

Where Megan Thee Stallion is more introspective on “Cobra”, she is fully focused on defending herself and taking names on “Hiss.”

Featuring the usual laid back production of a typical diss track, or perhaps hiss track, “HISS” has become a point of contention between Megan Thee Stallion and fellow musician Nicki Minaj. After its late January release, “HISS” made waves in the rap space due to one lyric in particular about “Megan’s Law” — a law that requires sex offenders to register with the state. Minaj took this as a personal dig due to her husband and brother being registered sex offenders, and launched a full-fledged attack on Megan Thee Stallion, even releasing a diss track of her own in response. 

In spite of, or perhaps in part through, all of the controversy, “HISS” became a first for Megan Thee Stallion, marking her second number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 as a solo artist. While it is currently unclear if “Cobra” and “HISS” are part of the same project, the success of these tracks and the snake motifs point to a future bite. 

All of these tracks include a bold statement from each artist while signifying a brand new era, including themes of growth and momentum building toward a new future. With more to come, listeners can only stay on the edge of their seats.


Latest Podcast

From her love of Taylor Swift to a late-night Yik Yak post, Olivia Beam describes how Swifties at U.Va. was born. In this week's episode, Olivia details the thin line Swifties at U.Va. successfully walk to share their love of Taylor Swift while also fostering an inclusive and welcoming community.