The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Kygo & Hayley Kiyoko
Fridays can be overwhelming for pop fans. Every week you’re bombarded with a glut of new music, which can lead to ear candy falling through the cracks. I’m hoping to circumvent that tragic scenario with The Drop — a cheat sheet (of sorts) to get you through New Music Friday. By now, you have probably heard Liam Payne’s second solo single, “Bedroom Floor,” and possibly checked out Kelly Clarkson’s soulful “Meaning Of Life.” But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a pair of pop divas trying out bold, new sounds. Say what you like about Rita Ora, but there are more good songs than not in her discography. In the past, they have just seemed a little derivative of whatever’s hot at the time. That doesn’t apply to “Anywhere,” however. The oddball banger begins with an acoustic verse, before segueing into an sunny, ABBA-like chorus and then going all electro with a drop about having less fun. I’m here for it. That same applies to Rachel Platten’s “Collide.” The pop star has been moving away from the balladry of her debut LP in favor of something more current and her latest Waves buzz track shows her in a whole new light.
Next up is singer/songwriter Julia Michaels, who pulls double duty on a remix of BloodBop and Justin Bieber’s “Friends.” She adds a female perspective to the song she co-wrote, blending nicely with the Canadian superstar’s winsome vocal. Another multi-talented female artist in the mix this week is Jaira Burns. The newcomer showed off her pop credentials on “Ugly,” but now showcases her grittier side on stoner anthem “High Rollin.” Produced by The Futuristics, this is your new wake & bake soundtrack.
Looking for something a little quieter and alt-adjacent? Sharaya Summers’ new single fits the bill. The LA-based singer came out swinging with “Light Of The Moon” and delivers another dose of woozy cali-pop on “Haunted.” Sounding like it was recorded in a Laurel Canyon studio 40 years ago, this is thoroughly gorgeous. A description that also applies to Hayley Kiyoko’s “Feelings.” The singer/actress has been quietly churning out pristine electro-pop for years, but took it to the next level on major label debut EP, Citrine. Her latest is another unusually honest pop song with incisive lyrics and delicate, multi-layered production.
It’s Friday, so I should probably some bangers. Kygo has had a banner year with the global success of “It Ain’t Me” and his excellent Stargazing EP. The Norwegian’s sophomore LP, Kids In Love, drops on November 3 and the title track is an ’80s-influenced anthem with a soaring chorus. Ayokay also takes inspiration from that decade on “Cassette” (well, at least for the title). A intricately-produced bop about a dysfunctional relationship, it’s his catchiest song since “Kings Of Summer.” The week’s most curious club fodder belongs to Naughty Boy. The Brit teams up with Joe Jonas for a soaring floorfiller that combines traditional Indian sounds with High School Musical-evoking teen-pop. I’m kind of obsessed.
Joe isn’t the only member of his family with a new track this week. Nick Jonas is also surprise addition to New Music Friday courtesy of “Home,” the theme song to an upcoming animated movie called Ferdinand. I liked “Find You,” but it just wasn’t quite strong enough to launch an album. “Home” is cute enough to keep us occupied while he figures out what to do next. Another epic soundtrack contribution comes from Queen of Christmas, Mariah Carey. Nobody does festive quite like Mimi as “The Star” proves yet again. Note the flawless vocal, haters.
Now for a couple of male artists with killer tunes. Bobi Andonov appeared on a talent show way back in 2010 and has been developing his sound ever since. And it was worth the wait if “Apartment” is any indication. The howling pop/rock anthem showcases the 23-year-old Australian’s crazy vocal range and dramatic flair. He’s definitely One To Watch. Niall Horan, on the other hand, needs no introduction. His debut LP drops today and it’s staggeringly good. If I had to pick the obvious successor to breakout hit “Slow Hands,” it would be “On The Loose.” But listen to the whole album.
How about some island beats? MAGIC! caught lightning in a bottle with 2014 smash “Rude,” but struggled to match that success with singles from their sophomore LP. That could change with “Darts In The Dark,” a catchy track that blends their signature reggae vibe with electro-pop. If you like your dancehall with no pop chaser, Valentino Khan’s “Gold” is the song for you. Featuring Sean Paul, this is the kind of bone-rattling moombahton anthem that Major Lazer perfected. It’s not surprising then that the song is featured in their upcoming documentary. This is a tune.
Let’s wind up with Chris Stapleton’s “Millionaire.” Unlike Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line, the “Tennessee Whiskey” crooner has never shown interest in a pop crossover and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. However, the bearded hitmaker’s latest single is so simple and sweet that it’s impossible not to love regardless of your genre preferences. This is the most universal country tune since Keith Urban’s “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” Listen to it in my playlist below.