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DLC Week of 2/16: Jack Johnson and Nicki Minaj

Jack Johnson “Better Together” and Nicki Minaj “Super Freaky Girl” investigate the myriad of ways human attraction can manifest. Don’t sleep on this deeply touching (in one case literally) new DLC debuting this Thursday in the Rock Band Music Store. 

The first track from 2005’s In Between Dreams, Jack Johnson’s “Better Together” served as assertive confirmation that the singer-songwriter’s first two popular albums were no fluke. It’s a gorgeous, heartwarming acoustic track that gives off major campfire sing-along vibes. Sparseness and succinct delivery is the order of the day here, with “Better Together” comprised primarily of Johnson’s distinctively intimate voice and acoustic guitar. This cozy formula is an equation he’s largely stuck with, particularly in his early career – and to great success, as he’s become a favorite of countless fans. But that’s not to say the triumph of this cut is shouldered by Johnson alone. At the 43 second mark, drummer Adam Topol joins with a gentle beat, punctuated by expert use of ride cymbal, along with an elegant bass line courtesy of Marlo Podlewski, and at 1:01 some timid piano plinking rounds out the sonic picture. At 3:04, a delicately ascending/descending modal guitar “lead” mirrors “Better Together”’s instrumental intro and also brings us to the song's tender conclusion less than 25 seconds later. Ultimately, the recording delivers a universal truth: all situations are improved when you’re with the ones you love. “It was really just a song that I wrote for my wife,” Johnson shared when the single was first released. “The love songs always start out for her, but then I try to make them pretty broad, so they're for everybody by the end." Years later, reflecting on “Better Together”’s expansive and enduring appeal, he said, "People have used it during their wedding day, or people have told me they had my playlist on when their baby came into the world and things like that, which is really important. That's a beautiful moment." Indeed, while the song fared quite well in the moment, eventually being certified gold (sales in excess of 500,000 units), the expiration date for “Better Together” has yet to be determined and it has become one of – if not the – defining works of Johnson’s catalog. It should come as no surprise, given that the Hawaii-native’s first love was surfing, that “Better Together” conjures imagery of riding placid waves in the warm summer sea, and the overall effect achieved is one of peace and contentment. This one will put you in an excellent headspace and – hey, play along with a friend or two! As a wise man once observed, “It’s always better when we’re together.”

Audacious, bold, nasty, assertive, empowering, nostalgia-bait, irreverent – folks had plenty of ways to describe Nicki Minaj’s “Super Freaky Girl” when the single dropped in the summer of 2022. The track employs a formula Minaj has successfully mined  with beats and bars to spare. Starting with a largely a cappella sample of Rick James’ 1981 classic “Super Freak” (fun fact: one of the most sampled songs of all time, with at least 37 releases from major artists leaning heavily into the track), at 10 seconds in, the production gets bigger and the rhythm gets more insistent as Minaj makes her entry in bold fashion with lyrics that are distinguishing qualities of Minaj..Super Freaky Girl” is helmed by one of the most skilled rappers of all time and, as usual, Nicki Minaj delivers. Fans agreed, with the cut debuting at number one on the U.S. Hot 100 and becoming the biggest ever Spotify debut for a solo female rap song. As for the haters who balked at the cheeky lyrical content and risqué performance, Minaj laughed off such criticism, saying in the fall of ’22, “I didn’t approach it in a sexual way; I approached it in a fun way… People might not get this from me, but I was never trying to be sexy, I always was laughing. I think that I can look sexy, but I don’t think of myself as a person that is – you know how some women walk into the room and they’re just like, ‘Ooh.’ I’m not like that.” On top of the confidently sneering and boastful rhymes, “Super Freaky Girl” benefits from a driving, pulsing bass-heavy beat and unrelenting percussion – and, of course, that classic Rick James funk. Get ready to have fun diving into this playful smash hit!

Jack Johnson “Better Together” and Nicki Minaj “Super Freaky Girl” are available for $1.99 each.

  • Jack Johnson – “Better Together”
  • Nicki Minaj – “Super Freaky Girl”

VIDEO: Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 2/16: Jack Johnson and Nicki Minaj 



*Please note that this week’s DLC tracks will be available for purchase on Thursday, February 16th.