The closer we get to the Super Bowl, the more some people want to spend the weekend on a far-flung lake, drinking Thermos coffee while they wait for fish to chomp. On the sports front, Vikings fans are still smarting from their 38-7 championship smackdown. And on the music front, it’s hard to get hyped for any of the $200 concerts or “luxury nightlife experiences” the game is attracting. But as Super Week dawns, it’s been rewarding to comb through The Current’s playlist, finding some alternative acts to those $200-a-ticket headliners. Here are suggestions based off many of this week’s headliners.
If you like Imagine Dragons, try Car Seat Headrest.
Ever since “Radioactive” exploded in 2012, Dan Reynolds and the rest of Imagine Dragons have waxed anthemic. Will Toledo and Car Seat Headrest certainly sound more jagged, but both lyricists share an interest in catharsis — Toledo expunging teenage struggles and shames, while Reynolds gets through his painful condition of ankylosing spondylitis.
Honorable mention: K.Flay, who Reynolds signed to his Night Street Records in 2016; Arcade Fire, who can match Imagine Dragons anthem-for-anthem.
If you like P!nk, try Sheer Mag.
In her 2008 smash “So What,” P!nk declares herself a “rock star.” She is on the edgier side of Top 40, but the members of Sheer Mag have the whole rock thing on lock, releasing Need to Feel Your Love last year with vocals by Tina Halladay.
If you like Migos, try Brockhampton.
Migos are headlining the super-pricey Rolling Stone party at International Market Square tonight. If they’re emblematic of rap’s present, “boy band” Brockhampton might just be the future. The huge group formed via Kanye West fan forums and have impressed critics and fans with their saturation albums.
If you like the Chainsmokers, try Sweater Beats.
My problem with the Chainsmokers isn’t about pop; it’s about monotony. That’s less of a problem for Sweater Beats, one of the most polished young EDM producers out there. Every once in a while, he surrenders to the Flume-ification of the industry. But most of the time, he’s collaborating with anyone from Hayley Kiyoko to Evalyn, making his vocalists sound buoyed and crystal-clear in the forefront of a massive track.
Honorable mention: DEM YUUT, a Minnesotan band who’ve only released two singles so far but have an entire album in the can; Sofi Tukker, whose “Best Friend” bangs.
If you like Kygo, try Maggie Rogers.
If Kygo‘s signature, dancehall-inspired genre “tropical house” sounds brighter and more relaxed than his contemporaries, so does Maggie Rogers‘s pop music.
Honorable mention: any actual dancehall act.
If you like Gwen Stefani, try Bishop Briggs.
Briggs isn’t a Stefani sound-alike, but her image certainly compares to the No Doubt squad’s. She’s a pop singer with a rocker’s attitude, and she holds nothing back while performing “River,” “Wild Horses,” or any of her other recent hits. Just imagine her “Hollaback Girl” cover.
If you like DJ Khaled, try N.E.R.D.
DJ Khaled has been Struggling With Success for over a decade, but he went seriously viral thanks to his Snapchat capers in late 2015. The Major Key to his success is the legion of guest stars on all of his albums; 2017’s Grateful featured 37 credited artists, including Chance the Rapper, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Drake, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z.
Late last year, Pharrell and Co.’s N.E.R.D tried the same strategy. Their album No One Ever Really Dies features another cavalcade of stars (Rihanna, Kendrick, André 3000, Future, and more), and although it’s too early to tell if any of the music will stick, it’s worth checking it out for the guests alone.
If you like Florida Georgia Line, try Blitzen Trapper.
Even twang neophytes can enjoy Blitzen Trapper, whose new album Wild and Reckless packs a country-rock punch.
If you like Future, try Allan Kingdom.
We’ve got to represent. St. Paul native Allan Kingdom continues to impress underground rap fans and artists, collaborating with Denzel Curry, Finding Novyon, Kanye West, and more.
Honorable mention: Camila Cabello’s “OMG,” a collaboration with Quavo of Migos, which beams us right back to “Mask Off” with the trap-and-panflute thing.
If you like Cardi B, try Kamaiyah.
Kamaiyah, one of the Bay Area’s recent pride and joys, makes a perfect pair with Cardi B and her massive “Bodak Yellow.”
If you like Jennifer Lopez, try Becky G.
Brief detour from The Current’s playlist here: if you like J. Lo and you haven’t heard of Becky G, you are in for a shock. Both are U.S.-born Hispanic figures known for their music and acting. Becky G’s first official single was called “Becky From The Block,” a clear homage to Jenny’s 2002 hit (and guess who makes an appearance in the video). Right now, Becky is riding the waves of global smash “Mayores.”