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Band/Artist Profile Music News and Interviews

An Interview with Dropping Plates

Dropping Plates (from left to right): Ben Burrows, Forest Britt, Aaron Huntley, and Jake Fain.

Dropping Plates is one of the newest local bands on the scene in Boone, NC. I had the opportunity to have a delightful interview with them this week! Made up of bassist Aaron Huntley, drummer Forest Britt, lead singer/guitarist Jake Fain, and guitarist Ben Burrows, they bring a unique funk-rock sound to the table. Here’s what they have to say:

Q: Tell me about how Dropping Plates started.

Aaron: Me and Forest were roommates last year at App State. I was on Facebook, and I saw that Ben had posted this ad for a drummer and bass player to create a band. I’ve known Ben because I met him through a mutual friend, and we’d jammed in the past before. I recognized him and so I just hit him up and then we jammed. It was perfect.

Q: How would you describe the music you make?

Jake: A mix between Grateful Dead and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Aaron: I know that we like to vibe, we like to jam.

Forest: We like to jam a lot. There’s a lot of instrumental influence, especially guitar solos in all of our music. A lot of our music is from different fields. We’ll have a more rock-like niche feel that’s heavier, but then we’ll also have a lighter poppy feel. We also have songs that are slow and like, just chill. So it kind of depends, but I think ultimately each song does have our individual instrumental influences which ultimately make the band Dropping Plates.

Q: What’s the story behind the name “Dropping Plates?”

Jake: So basically we were all in a group chat and we were just throwing out names, like we probably had 150 names. I was going through and I picked my top three out or whatever and I sent them to my mom. She’s like a very good outside judge of those things to see, you know, what would draw other people’s attention the most. One of them was Dropping Plates and she picked that one.

Forest: And with the name Dropping Plates, when you hear the sound of a plate dropping and crashing you know what that sound is, right? We feel like that compares to our music. We’re hoping that when you hear our band you know it’s Dropping Plates.

Ben: We were also going to be Dino Trip at first, Dino Trip or Dinosaur Party. And then we were like…”No, Dropping Plates.”

Q: Tell me a little bit about your creative process. How do you guys make music? Where do you draw inspiration from?

Forest: Really, it’s different for every song. They write music on their instruments, and then bring it to the band. Then, when we come together after we work on the songs. Everyone kind of puts their own touch into that song. It just builds until it’s a complete piece. But there’s a lot of times when it’s already a complete thing, but we’re just adding our influences into it and our sounds. For the song “Spun”, I felt like Jake kind of had that song already finished for his guitar part. We all came together and Jake started playing the song, Aaron starts coming up with a baseline, and I’m listening to Aaron play his baseline and I’ll do my drum part. Then we’ll come up with melodic lines over Jake’s guitar part. Jake will just sing, and then we’ll be like, f*** yeah. Maybe we’ll tweak it a little bit for a few songs. There’s a song on our upcoming album called “Wave” and it used to be actually a really fast song that Ben wrote but then we decided to just pull it back and play it slow. Now it’s this really beautiful, slow piece that’s closing the album.

Ben: Yeah, I think all of us have different influences for music, which I think is really cool because then it adds to a melting pot of sorts. Aaron is a lot more into jazz and methodical playing and I’m a lot more feel and rustic type of deal. Jake is like the nice mixture of the two and more Grateful Dead oriented on that point as well. And then Forest, he’s just the feel master of it all. The idea that he has what he has just in his mind I think is very cool. We’re all able to bring our own identities to our music, which is so sick.

Q: Who are your biggest musical role models?

Ben: John Mayer and the Grateful Dead for me are my top two most influential artists.

Forest: For me Hiatus Kaiyote, and specifically the drummer. His drum stuff really influences what I’m doing.

Jake: I’d definitely say just a combination of Jerry Garcia and Trey Anastasio. So, Dead and Phish, just the combination of the two is my biggest inspiration for sure.

Aaron: I listen to a lot of jazz. This guy, Christian Scott, he just has this, like blaring music and it’s really cool. And Flea, obviously, from Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Q: What’s the most useless talent you have?

Forest: I do parkour. Throughout middle school I was really into it and throughout high school I taught parkour classes at a gym. I would say it taught me a lot about working with kids working on yourself physically, but like, ultimately, I can do a backflip. I don’t know how useful that is.

Ben: I work for a conservation group. That’s pretty useful though. I have a really fancy tool that helps me measure water quality and dissolved oxygen and all this stuff. So I basically just put it in the water and I take the data. I can also do a really mean Scooby-Doo impression.

Jake: Oh yeah, we’re also really good at Catan.

Aaron: Super Smash Brothers too, we’re also really good at that. I know a lot of random stuff about animals too. I can play bass and drums at the same time. I use my feet on the drums and I use my hands on the bass.

Jake: I know a dumb amount of random Grateful Dead and Phish facts that I can just impose upon people.

Ben: It’s the most useless skill ever. He’ll just say some s*** that’ll blow your mind and you’re just like, why do you even know that?

Q: Have you guys played any live shows?

Jake: We’ve played four actual shows and then we played a bunch of times for an open mic.

Ben: Our favorite gig was a State though. I actually went to State my first two years. I was in a band, they’re called Friendly Reminder, they’re pretty sick. Check them out. My friends asked me if we wanted to come down and play at some philanthropy thing for their fraternity. We got to do it and it was really, really, really sick. We just played really well. It was a big crowd, but that wasn’t even what made it great. We all felt just felt connected and it was really cool. Which is why we’re sad. We had 15 shows lined up for the last month and a half before COVID, like one to three a week.

Jake: Ultimately, I’d say that we’re like gearing towards trying to become a live band. We still want to do studio stuff, because I actually really enjoyed that more than I thought I would.

Ben: We want to play. This is what we want to do with our lives. We’ll go to any means necessary to do that and get a really cool following. The goal would be to have a cult following that’s super religious to us. I’d like to see the same 50 people at our shows every time.

Q: What are you working on right now? What does the future look like for the band?

Aaron: We got a single coming out soon. We also just dropped our second music video today, “Padlock.”

Forest: And then our album, which has these singles we’ve dropped like “Spun,’ “Padlock,” and this next single, they’re all going to be a part of an album, which I think we’re gonna drop in February. We’re actually also in the process of recording another album too that’ll be released in the summer.

Q: Anything else you want to world to know about Dropping Plates?

Ben: Follow us on Facebook. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Check out our Spotify. And just come hang. Whenever all the social distancing stuff is over, we’re happy to hang out. We want to meet people and do cool things with music. We already have a community. We’re talking to a lot of other bands right now about playing shows together, and these are bands that are way better than us. It’s cool to recognize that people see our music as a promising thing and that they like our sound. It’s cool to finally realize that all of our hard work is being noticed.

Below is a link to their new music video to “Padlock,” along with their Spotify, Instagram, and Youtube channel. Check ’em out!

Tune in!

– DJ Butter

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Band/Artist Profile Miscellaneous

Best of Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers has entered the radar of many indie lovers this year upon the release of her second album “Punisher.” Her diary-like storytelling, sorrowful disposition, smooth vocals, and folky melodies combine to make top-tier indie music. So, join me on my journey to parse out the best of… Phoebe Bridgers.

  1. “Motion Sickness”

What would a Best of Phoebe Bridgers be without her most well known single, “Motion Sickness”? This song, a mild expose of a toxic relationship, is one of her most melodically potent songs, and has a catchier chorus than most of her other works. Despite the upbeat sounding percussion and springy guitar, the song conveys the hurt that Bridgers went through during her relationship and her liberating herself from that hurt.

Favorite Lyric: “You said when you met me you were bored / And you, you were in a band when I was born.”

  1. “I Know the End”

The closer on her sophomore album, “Punisher,” “I Know the End” is one of her more experimental tracks. The song starts out like most of Phoebe Bridgers’ tunes, a soft whisper of longing, but it builds up to be a metal song, complete with blood-curdling screams and heavy percussion toward the end. This ballad about Bridgers’ mental health and struggle with depression is chock-full of noteworthy and breathtaking lyrics, and is by far one of the best album closers I’ve ever heard.

Favorite Lyric(s): “I’m always pushing you away from me / But you come back with gravity” and “Windows down, scream along / To some America First rap country song.”

  1. (cover of) “Friday I’m in Love” by the Cure

This isn’t technically a work of Bridgers herself, but her cover of “Friday I’m in Love” by the Cure is a refreshing take on the hit 90s rock song. Her soft vocals and the calming instrumentals feel like a breath of fresh air after a long day.

Favorite Lyric: “Dressed up to the eyes / It’s a wonderful surprise / To see your shoes and your spirits rise.”

  1. “Kyoto,” “Kyoto (Copycat Killer Version)”

“Kyoto” would be the song I would recommend to anyone looking to get into Phoebe Bridgers’ music. This unusually upbeat track is juxtaposed with lyrics about her rocky relationship with her father. This horn-heavy track is perfect to scream-sing along to in the car with friends, and is my personal remedy for hard days. More recently, Bridgers came out with a strings only version of the song with Rob Moose. This more melancholy take on the song makes the lyrics all the more powerful and is definitely a tearjerker. 

Favorite Lyric: “Born under Scorpio skies / I wanted to see the world / Through your eyes until it happened / Then I changed my mind.”

  1. “Funeral”

This is definitely one of Bridgers’ saddest songs, as it is about the death of a close friend. This song seems to capture the darkness and light of grieving, and the feeling of celebrating a life publicly and mourning a death privately. This duality of grief is perfectly captured in the intro of the song, which starts out with a gritty reverbed electric guitar that flows into a melodic acoustic guitar. This track is one of my favorites from her debut album, “Stranger in the Alps.”

Favorite Lyric: “And I have this dream where I’m screaming underwater / While my friends are waving from the shore.”

  1. “Garden Song”

“Garden Song” is exactly what it sounds like it would be, a melodic and warm song about hopes and dreams– an unusually positive theme for Bridgers’ discography, but a welcome one. This leading single is what drew me to her discography, although not thematically on par with the rest of her music, it most definitely is sonically typical of her work.

Favorite Lyric: “The doctor put her hands over my liver / She told me my resentment’s getting smaller.”

This is merely an overview of my personal favorites, so if you’re just getting into Phoebe Bridgers, by all means don’t stop there. If you’re dying to listen to my picks now, check out this playlist. She has worked on many other projects including Boygenius and Better Oblivion Community Center. She has also collaborated with Fiona Apple, The 1975, Lord Huron and quite a few others throughout her career. Bridgers did just announce on Nov. 10 that she is releasing an EP of songs from Punisher with string instrumentals, which we got a sneak peek of with her releasing “Kyoto (Copycat Killer Version).” Although I am definitely late to the Phoebe Bridgers scene, I am just glad to be here and that I can absorb her artistry.

Check out her website and Instagram!

<3,

Caitlin

Categories
Band/Artist Profile Classic Album Review

New Music Alert: Mamalarky

Warning, warning, the music you are about to hear may cause ambient waves of tranquility and soothe the inner tension in your soul. 

It’s time for another album review. This week we have a self-titled album by Mamalarky, a new band from Austin, Texas. Quite honestly, I listened to the first track on the album and already knew that this was going to be a hit. For a little bit of comparison, Mamalarky sounds like a sister band to Crumb. A concert with the two of them would be mind-blowing and would probably send my mind to another planet. On their website, Mamarky describes themselves as “down to water your houseplants while you’re out of town and plot an elaborate revenge on your high school bully. Mamalarky is a campfire song for American Idol rejects and a somber soundtrack for the months leading up to your next breakup. They are exactly what you’d expect in an increasingly sentient robot’s dream journal.” Honestly, I couldn’t have put it better myself. 

My favorite songs from the album include “You Make Me Smile,” “Schism Trek,” “Drugstore Model,” and “Don’t Laugh at Me.” The thing I love about listening to their music is that the vibe does not change with the tempo of the music. While some songs may be much slower than others, it still holds the exact same energy as the fast paced songs, making listening to the album all the way through much easier. Mamalarky’s music is reminiscent of a walk on the beach at night or sitting on a porch while listening to a gentle rain. It’s tender, soothing, and ambient, and makes for a great addition to any playlist. 

Hope you guys enjoy the music
-The DJ Formerly Known as “Chippypants”

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Band/Artist Profile

Great Bands From the Land Down Under

Recently I have been getting into Australian music. I couldn’t tell you how or why, but I just have. And the one thing that I have noticed is that no matter what band it is, it usually has a distinct Australian sound to it that just makes it stand apart from American music. It’s bouncy and almost tropical sounding, with a hint of fear from the local wildlife. So without further ado, I would like to present my favorite bands from the other side of the world. 

Tash Sultana
This is a one person band from Melbourne, Australia. Tash’s story is the classic tale of a DIY bedroom studio singer/songwriter gone pro. Their music is truly unique and makes you feel as if you were travelling to another world in a dream. My favorite songs by them are “Jungle”, “Big Smoke”, and “Talk it Out.” 

Bootleg Rascal 
This band formed in Sydney all the way back in 2013. I would classify this as a mix of hip-hop and indie. This is one of those bands where the vocals just perfectly fit the beat. The lead singer’s voice just the right mixture of passionate and raspy and he belts out psychedelic rock- esque lyrics. My favorite songs are “Overflow”, “Drop the Gun”, and “Prosperity”. 

Sticky Fingers 
So, fun fact, the band Sticky Fingers is actually friends with Bootleg Rascal and has a song named after them. Even more of a fun fact, it’s by far my favorite song by them. Their music sounds like if Tash Sultana got into psychedelic rock. Other great songs by Sticky Fingers include “How to Fly” and “These Girls”. 

Mako Road
This is definitely my favorite on the list. With their bouncy guitar riffs and excellent rhythm, Mako Road is the perfect representation of “Australian Music.” My favorite songs from this band include, but are not limited to, “The Green Superintendent,” “Teenage Lucy,” “All We Need,” and “The Sun Comes Up.” 

Tame Impala 
Have you guys heard of this band? They’re super underground and like so indie. You probably haven’t heard of them to be honest it’s pretty alternative music. Sorry, I had to include them if we were talking about Australian Bands. Irony aside, Kevin Parker is still an incredibly talented musician.  

Hope you guys enjoy the music, 
-DJ Chippypants 

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Band/Artist Profile

Artist Spotlight: Doja Cat

Written By Miranda Owen

Amala Dlamini, or Doga Cat, is a rapper and singer from Los Angeles. Doja Cat’s rise to fame is an interesting and inspiring story. In her childhood, Dlamini was influenced by musicians like Erykah Badu and Tupac, took dance lessons, and learned to skateboard and surf. Eventually Doja Cat dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music. She created her own beats using GarageBand and continued practicing dance. She released tracks on SoundCloud and YouTube but didn’t start creating on a large scale until she signed with RCA Records at age 17. With RCA Records, she was able to release her first EP, Purrr! which featured five mostly self-written unique tracks. Songs like “No Police” and “So High” were widely listened to and enjoyed by lovers of alternative R&B (I listened to the EP religiously during my high school years). After Purrr! Doja Cat went on to sign with OGG, and began collaborating with other artists on certain tracks, though she remained low-key until about 2018. 

In 2018, Doja Cat started to again release music, this time for a wider audience. “Go to Town” and its music video, and other promotional tracks (like “Candy”) were released on streaming platforms in early 2018 to tease the upcoming release of her first studio album, Amala. The promotional singles grabbed the attention of her fans, and expanded into a broader audience as some of her singles became popular on TikTok during 2019. What really brought the attention to Doja Cat’s music to the populous was her upload of “Mooo!”, a self-produced music video in which she sings about being a cow. This, of course, got the attention of the American music scene and popular demand led to Doja Cat releasing the song as a single. 

After the buzz about “Mooo!” died down, Doja Cat continued to write and produce hit singles like “Tia Tamera” and “Juicy,” which landed her Platinum status and gave Amala a debut on the Billboard top-200 album chart. She continued to generate hype following the release of singles “Bottom Bitch” and “Say So.” These tracks would eventually make it on her second album, Hot Pink

Doja Cat’s story is one that is unique: she found a balance of talent and luck that after nearly a decade of work allowed her to become famous and successful in the pop and rap genres. Part of her success can be attributed to the millions of fans who discovered her music through a newer social media platform, TikTok, which increased her name recognition and caused her to gain a huge influx of new listeners. Doja Cat is a unique personality in music today, truly one of a kind. 

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Band/Artist Profile

Slept On: Mario Judah

21 year-old artist Mario Judah exists in the musical Twilight Zone: a place where Breaking Benjamin meets A Boogie, Pantera meets Playboi Carti, and Ozzy Osbourne meets Offset. While this may seem like an odd juxtaposition at first, the fusion of rap and rock is nothing new – just look at artists like Three 6 Mafia, Limp Bizkit, and Cypress Hill. However, Mario Judah has breathed new life into the tradition with his unique delivery and trap instrumentation.

Music video for “Die Very Rough” by Mario Judah

Judah saw success in September of this year with the single “Die Very Rough”, which combines melody and melodrama through a vocal delivery that has been compared to that of a Disney villain. With the addition of a horror film themed music video, the song was slated to become a meme – which is exactly what happened when it exploded on TikTok. Despite the novelty of “Die Very Rough”, Judah has undeniable singing chops and has been producing beats since his teenage years. Released in June, “Crush” forecasted the success of “Die Very Rough” and proved his sound is more than a gimmick – it’s his brand.

Music video for “Crush” by Mario Judah

In the age of viral fame, getting our attention is easy – the hard part is maintaining it. Will Mario Judah enter the hallowed halls of horrorcore as an artist that blurs the line between rap and rock? Or will he fade into meme rap obscurity and join the ranks of 6ix9ine and Ugly God? Now that he has the spotlight, only time will tell what he does with it.

– DJ Mango

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Band/Artist Profile

Slept On: RMR

Not much is known about the figure known as RMR – pronounced “rumor” – who never makes a public appearance without his embroidered ski mask. One thing is certain, however: the man can sing. His breakout single “Rascal”, with its impassioned vocal performance and “F— 12” refrain, combines hardcore hip-hop aesthetics with country balladry thanks to its interpolation of “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. Like Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”, the juxtaposition of these two styles makes “Rascal” – along with its music video – primed for viral success.

Music Video for “Rascal” by RMR

Given his enigmatic persona and viral appeal, it would be easy to write off RMR as a gimmick. When I play “Rascal” for my friends, none of them take it seriously – but while there is a certain novelty in auto-crooning about drug dealing over a country instrumental, it’s clear the rapper has his sights set higher than one-hit wonder status. In June of 2020, he followed up the success of his viral hit with Drug Dealing is a Lost Art, an EP that saw features from Westside Gunn, Future, Lil Baby, and Young Thug. Tracks like “Welfare” and “Dealer” showcase RMR’s ability to glide over melodic trap instrumentals and prove that “Rascal” was no fluke.

So who is the man behind the mask? According to RMR, that isn’t important – the music is all that matters. As he told Entertainment Weekly: “At the end of the day, every artist is wearing a mask. Even a lot of individuals in their normal day are wearing a mask. I’m just a mirror for them.”

– DJ Mango

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Band/Artist Profile

Band Highlight: La Luz

If you’re into any type of psychedelic surf rock, you’ve got to check out La Luz. The all-girl quartet makes a great contribution to the modern psych-rock genre. Their music is a delightful mixture of fun and deep feeling. In a genre that tends to be dominated by men, it’s refreshing to hear female voices on the mic playing along to heavy guitar and garage keyboard.

La Luz has been on the scene since 2012 when Shana Cleveland, who was originally a part of both Curious Mystery and Shana Cleveland & the Sandcastles, formed the band in Seattle. Inspired by the sounds of 60s rock, girl pop, and surf music, the band set out to create a playful yet intriguing sound. Their first EP, called “Damp Face,” was released in 2013, closely followed by their first album, “It’s Alive.”

After hitting some bumps in the road, including a car wreck that destroyed all their instruments and bassist Abbey Blackwell leaving the band, La Luz emerged stronger than ever in 2015 when they began producing another album, “Weirdo Shrine,” with Ty Segall. Lena Simon took up their bassist position, and they went on to create their newest album, “Floating Features,” produced by the Black Keys vocalist and guitarist Dan Auerbach.

I am absolutely in love with this band. It’s amazing to see other women represented in one of my favorite genres. I 10/10 recommend giving them a listen. Here are some more key facts about the band:

Members:

  • Shana Cleveland (guitar and vocals)
  • Alice Sandahl (keyboard and vocals)
  • Marian Li-Pino (drums and vocals)
  • Lena Simon (bass and vocals)

Discography:

  • Damp Face EP (2013)
  • It’s Alive (2013)
  • Weirdo Shrine (2015)
  • Floating Features (2018)

Song Highlights:

  • Floating Features – Floating Features
  • The Creature – Floating Features
  • Sleep Till They Die – Weirdo Shrine
  • Morning High – It’s Alive

Here’s a link to their website and instagram!

– DJ butter

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Band/Artist Profile

Slept On: Lady Wray

Nicole Wray got a taste of the spotlight at a young age: just after graduating high school in 1998, she was the first artist signed to Missy Elliot’s fledgling record label, The Goldmind. Before she knew it, her debut single “Make it Hot” was certified gold and she was touring with Aaliyah. But when Missy began adding new artists to her label, Nicole was overlooked, and her second album never saw the light of day. This would become a recurring theme for the next decade of Nicole’s career, with various labels expressing interest in her and then refusing to release her work. It seems we weren’t the first ones to sleep on her.

After several other artistic endeavors, Nicole has returned under a new stage name: Lady Wray. With this change in name comes a change in sound – she has abandoned the R&B style in favor of retro soul and doo-wop, though her church choir upbringing made rebranding quite easy. While her 2014 release Lady got her foot in the door, it was her 2016 follow-up Queen Alone, with its live instrumentation and impassioned vocal performances, that cemented her as a force to be reckoned within the soul soundscape. Highlights include the hit “Guilty”, written after her brother’s arrest, and “Make Me Over”, a track that finds her coyly asking her lover to take her shopping.

Against all odds, Lady Wray has navigated the fickle beast that is known as the music industry and developed a voice all her own. At this point, it is no longer a question of what she can do but what she can’t do. I recommend this artist to fans of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Hannah Williams & the Affirmations.

– DJ Mango

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Band/Artist Profile

Artist of the Week: Doja Cat

Doja Cat is one of my favorite artists at the moment. She is so unique and talented and has her own signature sound and style that makes her stand out from other artists. I found Doja Cat through my best friend. She absolutely loves her, and she showed me Doja Cat’s song, Casual. I instantly loved her voice and her vibe. She is a bad bitch and she knows it. When listening to Doja Cat, all of her songs have a different vibe. There is never a dull moment while listening to her because she always brings something new to the table. She experiments with different beats and her lyrical flow is impressive. And don’t get me started on her music videos… THEY ARE ICONIC!!!! She doesn’t do the basic type of music videos, she adds her own spin to it; whether that be being a cat (Rules) , in love with a robot (Cyber Sex), a ‘70s throwback (Say So), and looking so elegant while in a pool of milk (Streets). She is so creative and you can see that with her music, videos, and style. Not only do I love her music, but her content on Twitter and Instagram is hilarious! She is 100% herself and is unapologetic with it. 

Doja Cat (Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini) was born on October 21, 1995 and was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She began making and releasing music on SoundCloud as a teenager. At the age of 17, she signed a joint record deal with RCA Records and Kemosable Records. Doja Cat achieved viral recognition for her music video, “Mooo!,” which is iconic, 10/10. She also gained attention with her songs on TikTok because of the dances that people would do to her songs. 

Discography: 

Amala (2018)

Hot Pink (2019) 

Favorite Songs: 

Say So

Rules

Streets

Tia Tamara

Juicy 

Freak

Casual 

Like That 

What are some of your favorite songs by Doja Cat? 

Stay Metal, 

THE SAW