Amber Smoke stays at the top, several new artists emerge


Music Directors

Editor’s note: KCSU does not support Kanye West, his label or his actions.

“KCSU’s Top 10 Songs Spinning This Week” is written by the KCSU music directors and describes the top artists that your local 90.5 FM DJs are playing this week. The article is updated weekly on Sundays and discussed on their show, “KCSU Weekly Gem Countdown,” which airs every Monday from 12-1 p.m. During the show, you can learn more about each musician or band before tuning in to the top 10 countdowns on Mondays, in which the music directors present to you the latest songs topping the charts and breaking down each song’s sound and feel.

*= Brand new to the charts this week!


  1. Homeshake — Alt/Indie — (9 spins of “Mindless” off of their 2021 album, “Under the Weather”)

Homeshake is the stage name for the alternative artist Peter Sagar. According to his Bandcamp, Peter “was staying at home a lot, long before the pandemic.”

Sagar wrote the majority of his fifth studio album, ‘Under the Weather’ in 2019 when he was “going through a long, unrelenting period of sadness.” Sagar explains, “I was in a deep, deep depression. Tours were breaking me. It was awful. It was a bit of a dark pit. That’s kind of what the album is about.”

Because the album was released two years later in 2021, Sagar thinks that most people will think he wrote about being alone during the pandemic, but really he wrote about feeling isolated his whole life.


2. Amber Smoke — Hip Hop/Rap — (8 Spins of “Money Orders” off of their 2020 single “Money Orders”)

Amber Smoke keeps her #2 spot on the KCSU charts for the third week in a row! According to her Spotify, Smoke is a “rising international superstar.” Originally from Houston, she also raps, sings, writes music and acts.

Her music covers “many relatable issues head-on, like social injustice, difficulties finding love … and navigating being a young strong woman in the industry willing to pave her own way without compromising her beliefs,” according to her Spotify.

This upbeat, true hip-hop tune allows Smoke to claim her place as a strong woman in the music industry.


3. Chelsea Cutler — Pop — (7 Spins of “Forever” off of their 2021 album “When I Close My Eyes”)

“Forever” is the opening track of Chelsea Cutler’s newest album, “When I Close My Eyes.” Chelsea Cutler is a 24-year-old, singer, songwriter and producer from Connecticut, making her mark in the pop world.

In this song, Cutler displays the feeling of falling in love and changing her mind when it comes to long-term relationships. Cutler also adds a voicemail from her girlfriend in the bridge, proving to the listeners that she was the muse for the catchy chorus, “forever never sounded good before I met ya.”


4. *Great Time — Electronic — (6 Spins of “80z Slo Jam” off of their 2021 album “Sounds Like ___ Vol 2.”)

The Philadelphia trio Great Time consists of Jill Ryan, Zack Hartmann and Donnie Spackman. According to their Spotify, the trio self-produced ‘Sounds Like __ Vol 2.” “in quarantine … from their home studio built with money raised via Kickstarter. The band has largely ignored conventional wisdom and recorded from a genuine place of multi-genre influence that sounds like something wholly original.”

As stated in Look at My Records!, “’80z Slo Jam’ is a microcosm of the EP’s larger themes, which represents the band’s rejection of the music industry norms and attempts from certain forces to get them to rein in their sound.”



5. *Paramore — Pop — (5 Spins of “Fake Happy” off of their 2017 album “After Laughter”)

Paramore has been making its mark in the rock and pop world since 2003. The band currently consists of Hayley Williams, Taylor York and Zac Farro. On their Spotify, Paramore explains that “no one understood how a band so un-country could be from this strange little town called Nashville, nor how a bunch of kids so small could play their angst-filled songs so proudly.”

In 2010, Farro left the band with the only other founding member besides Williams, sparking many theories about the reason for the split. Williams admitted that after their split, she kept pretending everything was fine when in reality she was hiding her sadness — which sparked the idea for the song. Williams explained to Apple Music how this made her develop a hatred of phoniness: “It’s not fun to be around, it’s not fun to do yourself,” she said. “But then there are these moments in your life where you’re professional and you have to have grace with yourself, you have to have grace with other people and work hard, but it’s that self-preservation thing.” Farro has since returned to the band to continue making music.


6. *People in General (Local) — Alt/Indie — (5 Spins of “Sunrise” off of their 2019 album “Piglet”)

People in General is a local band from Fort Collins, Colorado, consisting of Abraham Dashnaw, Matan Birnbaum, Ethan Christi, Ben Eberle and Hays Bruce. As stated in their Spotify, it is a jazz-pop band that “fuses elements of math-rock, bedroom pop, jazz and indie to deliver fun and high-energy performances. … Since forming in January 2019, the ensemble, endearingly known as ‘PiG’ by fans, has amassed an enthusiastic group of dedicated followers through their messaging of positivity and community building.”



7.  *Silas Short — R&B — (4 spins of “Drawing” off of their 202 EP “Drawing”)

Silas Short is an upcoming artist out of Chicago. According to his Spotify, Short is a “singer and musician who produces his own music, synthesizing influences from soul and classic R&B. Silas Short’s route to releasing music was nothing less than difficult, including shattering a bone in his left hand when he was 19,” which nearly ended his music aspirations.

Short told Stone Throw, “‘Drawing’ is a reference to finding my inner harmony. I had an epiphany to marry my multitude of influences together, which seemed to contrast like black ink on a white page. Putting my music and art together felt like the most honest expression of my experience.”


8.  *Tennis (Local) — Alt/Indie — (4 spins of “100 Lovers” off of their 2014 album “Ritual in Repeat”)

Tennis is a local indie-pop duo that consists of Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore. According to the duo’s Spotify, the pair has “swooning ’50s pop melancholy with smooth-and-easy ’70s soft rock in a beguiling, calming fashion that matches the sailing trips that provide them with inspiration.”

The duo returned from a busy touring schedule to record their third album in the autumn of 2014. From their Spotify, “More accessible and diverse than previous efforts, the record featured songs produced by Richard Swift, the Black Keys‘ Patrick Carney and Spoon’s Jim Eno.”


9. *Chance the Rapper — Hip Hop/Rap — (3 spins of “65th and Ingleside” off of their 2018 single release of “65th and Ingleside”)

Chance the Rapper became one of the most significant artists to infiltrate the mainstream during the 2010s. According to his Spotify, “through several mixtapes, his output underwent a rapid evolution as he celebrated life and faith, mourned personal loss, and hit upon lighter everyday experiences with high-aptitude wordplay served with a variety of mostly genial styles.”

Chance has worked with artists like Justin Bieber, Kanye West and Childish Gambino and has gained over 11 million listeners on Spotify.


10. *Childish Gambino — R&B — (2 spins of “Redbone” off of their 2016 album “Awaken, My Love!”)

Childish Gambino, the stage name for Donald Glover, is a singer, songwriter, producer, director, actor, comedian and rapper — with many talents. According to his Spotify, “Glover refined his off-kilter brand of hip-hop on his 2013 breakthrough album ‘Because the Internet,’ before making a sharp turn toward R&B-inspired funk, which won him a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance in 2017 for the single ‘Redbone.'”

Glover has won a multitude of awards — including, Grammies, MTV Video Music Award, Emmy, Golden Globes and a Critics Choice Award. Glover has amassed over 15 million listeners on Spotify but is taking time to work on his hit show ‘Atlanta.’


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