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Music Critic Picks Favorite Listens On Doja Cat's 'Planet Her'

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

The pop singer and rapper Doja Cat is out with her third studio album, "Planet Her." She got her start by making quirky rap videos on YouTube in the early 2010s, and now the 25-year-old has had three Grammy nominations, Top 10 hits, and her songs often go viral on TikTok. But all that success isn't without controversy. Journalist Briana Younger walks us through some of the album's standout tracks.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOJA CAT SONG, "WOMAN")

BRIANA YOUNGER: My first pick is the first song of the album, which is "Woman." I love that she used this song to open her album. It has this really bright, sexy Afropop flavor. And Doja herself is, of course, part South African via her father.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOMAN")

DOJA CAT: (Singing) Let me be your woman. Woman, woman, woman. I can be your woman.

YOUNGER: The album is an entire kaleidoscope of sounds, but this is a new one for her, and she inhabits it so well. Like, that's the thing that really sets her apart, the sense that she's always searching. She's always open to change, always fluid.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOMAN")

DOJA CAT: (Singing) You can reciprocate. I got delicious taste. You need a woman's touch in your place. Just protect her, and keep her safe.

YOUNGER: Commercially speaking, you know, music rewards the comfort zones of both the artist and the fan. So I thought it was nice that Doja set the tone with this album with something that kind of stretched her and was new for her. She just killed it.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOJA CAT SONG, "IMAGINE")

YOUNGER: One of her strongest assets, even as far back as, like, 2014 with, like, her first EP, is just how fluent she is in both music and the internet, which it's been to her strength, but it's also, you know, been to her detriment at points.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IMAGINE")

DOJA CAT: (Singing) Pull up just like, ooh, you a baddie. Imagine. Imagine.

YOUNGER: People have tried to throw her away for various sins. There was the 2015 song that she made that uses a racist term that was coined online in alt-right circles. There was last year's, like, chatroom debacle where people thought she was participating in chat rooms where casual racism is the norm. But she's able to move through it in part because she fundamentally understands how to navigate the internet because she's just of the internet in this weird sort of way. But really, I feel like she gets around it because she's just incredibly talented.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IMAGINE")

DOJA CAT: (Singing) Saucing with my thousands on an island. Got imagination because I'm childish. Imagine.

YOUNGER: Pop is this superfluid space, and she's able to be playful and edgy and altogether weird and then channel it in this super-charismatic, polished way for better and for worse.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOJA CAT SONG, "LOVE TO DREAM")

YOUNGER: "Love To Dream" is this really kind of beautiful, dreamy ballad that shows how well Doja can also sing. Her vocal tone, which is, like, super-delicate and pretty, combined with the layering kind of form this unique, ethereal effect.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE TO DREAM")

DOJA CAT: (Singing) We just love to dream. I fell asleep...

YOUNGER: It's easy to get used to Doja and the more upbeat kind of mischievous persona. But when she scales it back and does this, like, dainty, vulnerable singer thing, like, you really come to appreciate her range as an artist. And I think "Love To Dream" is one of those ones where it's like, oh, like, you really do it all.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE TO DREAM")

DOJA CAT: (Singing) I don't want to close my eyes. Nobody wants to fall after they did it all.

YOUNGER: For all of the attempts at so-called cancellation, I think Doja's just here to stay. And I welcome her. I think she's immensely talented. And we're watching her grow up and develop, and it's just - it's truly a pleasure to witness.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KISS ME MORE")

DOJA CAT: (Singing) Can you kiss me more? We're so young, boy. We ain't got nothing to lose.

MCCAMMON: That's music journalist Briana Younger telling us about Doja Cat's new album, "Planet Her."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KISS ME MORE")

DOJA CAT: (Singing) Baby, hold me because I like the way you groove. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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