From rock to hip-hop to jazz, classical, and pop, from new music made in Spatial to classics remixed or remastered for it, this handpicked playlist is the place to find songs that unlock the magic and full power of Spatial Audio on Apple Music. Every week, we’ll be inviting top audiophile magazine Sound & Vision to weigh in on the new songs added to this playlist. Their own Mike Mettler will be breaking down some of the most notable new additions here every Friday. His “sacred mission,” he says, “is to inform you about the very best in immersive Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos magic that’s available in the ever-expanding Apple Music universe so you can experience the aural wonders of it all for yourself.” (You can catch the full version of Mike’s write-up on Sound & Vision.)
George Michael, “Faith”
English singer-songwriter George Michael sure had a lot to prove once he left ’80s Pop-chart powerhouses Wham! in 1986. His debut full-length solo effort, 1987’s Faith, instantly reinforced his merits as a career artist to be reckoned with—and, to date, it’s sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Not only that, but the Atmos mix of “Faith,” the album’s title track and a long-running No. 1 single, is but one more reason why Michael deserves his acknowledgment as this week’s Featured Artist. “Faith” opens with 35 seconds of a skyward, cathedral-style organ figure that fills the full sound field, though it does emanate outward from the center on high. Michael’s vocals enter in the centralized zone, and they’re clean, dry, and well upfront in the mix, similar to how Prince was recording his lead vocals at the time (see “Kiss”). The vocal placement is a bit more playful in the song’s back half, wafting in the heights from side to side—and then a twangy rockabilly guitar solo enters up high in the middle and counters itself over in the right as Michael scats along behind it at a slightly lower volume.
Timbaland, “The Way I Are” (feat. Keri Hilson & D.O.E.)
Hip-hop/R&B production maven Timbaland has, on occasion, stepped out front to headline a few of his own albums to stellar results, as his 2007 opus, Shock Value, demonstrates quite handily. One of its key tracks, the Top 5 electro-pop single “The Way I Are,” makes an even bolder statement of purpose in Spatial Audio. A swirling synth line opens things up and swooshes all around the field of play as a processed voice declares a “state of emergency” just right of center before a thumping synth bass marches right down the middle of the field, with percussive slaps and calls of “yeah!” duly in tow. The heavy synths continue with the club beat, squashed vocal stabs filtering in and out of it all until Timbaland opens the gambit in a channel-wide declaration. Featured vocalist Keri Hilson enters high in the mix in a sultry tone to reassure him. Although her voice is slightly disorienting and somewhat disembodied at first, Hilson’s creative suggestions soon enough crystallize much more clearly up the middle.
The Beach Boys, “I Get Around”
Look up “summer” in the dictionary, and you might come across a photo of The Beach Boys. Their just-expanded 80-song collection, Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach Boys, is prime summertime listening, so what better way to kick things off than with “I Get Around”? This magical, chart-topping single from 1964 very much gets around in a very good way in Spatial Audio. A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it snarling guitar lick actually opens the track before the a cappella “’Round, ’round, get around/I get around” vocal starter immediately follows on high, supplemented by those heavenly “ooohs” that sound exactly as sweet as you would expect. As the verses unfold, Mike Love takes the lead out front, and behind him, Brian Wilson turns in the falsetto as he, Al Jardine, Carl Wilson, and Dennis Wilson all blend together in that early, classic, high-cast Beach Boys style. When Love gets to the “I’m gettin’ bugged” ennui section, the guitar figure rolls over to the left and handclaps emerge just right of center before they all take a quick break for Brian’s brief Hammond B3 organ breakdown, itself over to the left.
Bryan Adams, “Summer of ’69”
Canadian rock/pop icon Bryan Adams hit pure paydirt with “Summer of ’69,” one of the many super-popular singles from his mega-selling 1984 release, Reckless, and it also happens to be experiencing the best mix of its life in Atmos. A whip-crack drum hit opens the track just a tick above the center plane before the signature chugging guitar riff starts center-left, then responds to itself center-right, its ensuing resonance spread fully wide on both sides. When Adams enters up in the clouds with the first line, “I got my first real six-string/Bought it at the five-and-dime,” the echo on his throaty voice is nothing short of massive, lending the song’s overall tack of fond reminiscence additional weight. The guitar snarl picks up on a later verse and during the brief instrumental break, serving to foreshadow Keith Scott’s guitar-solo payoff during the final minute, with his riffage fully centered and Adams’ vocal now slightly right of his playing.
a-ha, “Take On Me”
Norwegian synth-poppers a-ha took on the top of the charts when the perennially catchy “Take On Me,” their No. 1 hit from 1985’s Hunting High and Low, became an international smash during the height of the MTV era—but the track has much more depth to it, in Atmos, than you might think. When the chorus kicks in, you can marvel at vocalist Morten Harket’s choices. In a very low tone, he extends the vowel in “take,” then does the same with “on” and “me” in his regular voice, with the repeat response vocal of the full phrase just to his left. When he gets to the key line, “I’ll be gone/In a day or two,” his falsetto rises way up high into the ether. On the ensuing verse, Harket’s vocal wafts a bit left to right and back again, as does the synth line that essentially follows him. On the second chorus, his falsetto read on the final word, “two,” is literally out of this world, as the drama of hearing it ascend up into, and essentially beyond, the height channel is as thrilling as could be. —Mike Mettler, Sound & Vision