Randy Newman

In 2017, pop music either sought shelter from the storm or ran straight into it

In 2017, pop music either sought shelter from the storm or ran straight into it

Even now, eight months after I first heard it, the 10-second stretch of music gets me every time.

It comes at the end of the second verse of “Love,” a song from Kendrick Lamar’s album “Damn,” and the thing that’s so gripping is the way the Compton rapper suddenly shrinks a vast, roiling world down to the psychic space between two people.

A small guy with big ideas, he’s been zoomed way out on “Damn,” pondering faith and race and the meaning of success — what America wants from a celebrity and what it doesn’t want from a black man.

But here, in “Love,” he zeroes in on himself, on the phone with his girlfriend as he hurtles down the...

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