Cut Through the Noise: Rina Sawayama, Diana Ross & Tame Impala, Conan Gray


Maren Wilsey

Welcome to “Cut Through the Noise,” an entertainment column from the St. Louis Park Echo covering new music releases. Every week, a different Echo staffer takes on the role of writer, reviewing recent single releases from a variety of artists.

Rina Sawayama — ‘This Hell’ ★★★★★

Fair use from Dirty HIt

Rina Sawayama’s newest release, and first single off her next album, “Hold the Girl,” is a fiery pop tribute to y2k. Right off the bat, she samples Shania Twain’s “Let’s go girls” from “Man! I Feel like a Woman.” From there, the 2000’s references only pick up momentum — covering everything from Britney Spears to “The Devil Wears Prada.” At its core, the song is an LGBT+ anthem, turning the refrain that the whole community is destined to end up in hell into something empowering. Rife with religious imagery, Sawayama is proud of who she is, and won’t let anyone take that away from her. The song is an upbeat dance track reminiscent of early 2010s pop, with pronounced electronic sounds. However, at the same time it has a bit of a classic country twang, a combination that doesn’t seem like it would work, but Sawayama manages to pull it off. 


Diana Ross & Tame Impala — ‘Turn up the Sunshine’ ★★★★☆

Fair use from Universal Studios

As a part of the soundtrack for the new movie “Minions: The Rise of

Gru,” an unlikely collaboration was born between Diana Ross and Tame Impala. While few may have seen this coming, I think everyone can appreciate this feel-good track. The Jack Anonoff-produced project is inspired by the ‘70s, the era the movie is set in. The “Despicable Me” cinematic universe has gifted us many hits in the past, and this song is no exception. Recently several songs from past movies have been especially popular on TikTok. As summer approaches, the bright disco sound feels like the audio version of the technicolor world of Gru and his Minions — that is to say, carefree and fun. It’s light and energetic — exactly the kind of thing the world wants right now. 


Conan Gray — ‘Yours’ ★★☆☆☆

Fair use from Republic Records

The latest track off Conan Gray’s “Superache,” is an oh-so perfect Conan Gray ballad. He laments a one-sided relationship where he gives all his energy only to get nothing in return — a theme he’s explored often before. I love the soft piano that accompanies his dynamic vocals throughout the track. It captures everything he does well — maybe a little too much. There’s just not much that’s really new or revolutionary about it. It’s not a bad song by any means, but it fits so seamlessly into the rest of his discography it fades into obscurity. Even with the parts that I like, I could reference several of his songs that do the same thing already — and in many cases, do it better. As the release of his full album approaches, I can’t help but cross my fingers that this track isn’t reflective of the rest of it.