The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Paloma Faith & Au/Ra
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 Nicki Minaj and Cardi B square off on Migos’ “Motor Sport” and possibly checked out Tinashe’s cameo on blackbear’s “Up In This.” But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a trio of Fifth Harmony-related bangers. The girl group joins forces with Pitbull on a new Spanglish bop called “Por Favor.” It’s sultry, hip-swinging fun that surfs the Latin craze currently sweeping pop radio. RedOne’s “Boom Boom” explores a similar soundscape. The track, which interpolates “Lady, Hear Me Tonight” and features 5H diva Dinah Jane, sounds like a reject from J.Lo’s Love? album that has been refreshed with a new cast and crew. And that turns out to be a surprisingly good thing. Last but not least is Lauren Jauregui. She lands another solo credit on Ty Dolla $ign’s “In Your Phone.”
The collaborations continue with Selena Gomez & Marshmello’s “Wolves.” The iTunes-conquering anthem gets better with each listen as the subtle inflections in the production become more obvious. Also, Selena has never sounded better. Say what you want about her vocals, but she sounds a million dollars on this. Speaking of Selegend, “Bad Liar” songwriter Julia Michaels teams up with Clean Bandit for a raw and emotional banger called “I Miss You.” It sounds big.
In an unusually collaborative week for pop divas, Noah Cyrus lends her voice to Alan Walker’s “All Falls Down” — a relatable bop about a looming breakout. Technically a remix, Olivia Holt teams up with Danish DJ Martin Jensen of “Solo Dance” fame for an overhaul of “Generous.” As much as I like the original, this version sounds more current and should find a lot of love on Spotify. After coming perilously close to cracking the Billboard Hot 100 with “History,” this could be the Disney diva’s breakout hit.
While female artists are clearly the preferred option for DJs this week, a couple of producers bucked the trend. Dutch heavy-hitter Don Diablo links with A R I Z O N A (you might remember them from the still-great “Cross My Mind”) for a new single called “Take Her Place.” It’s definitely the most romantic and uplifting banger about one-night stand I’ve heard in a while. If radio plays along, this could be big. Kygo’s winning streak continues with the John Newman-assisted “Never Let You Go.” It’s the latest gem from his upcoming Kids In Love album.
Moving away from floorfillers for a moment, it was also a great week for rising stars. Let’s begin with a pair of vocalists. Malia comes out swinging with sublime debut single “Champagne Clouds,” the classiest anthem about being tipsy ever recorded. She has the kind of voice that completely demands your attention from the opening syllable to the final note. The same applies (obviously) to the brilliant Paloma Faith. She follows up “Cry Baby” — one of the best singles of 2017 — with “Guilty.” This dramatic, soulful moment is equally parts Amy Winehouse and Shirley Bassey.
Next up is a pair of newcomers with singles about their ex-lovers, albeit from very different perspectives. After making her mark with a string of collaborations (Kygo’s “This Town” and Odesza’s “Falls,” for example), Sasha Sloan sings about the possibly of staying friends with her ex on remarkably assured debut single “Ready Yet.” Produced by King Henry, this is an interesting take on the break-up anthem. Liz Huett takes a different approach on “H8U.” As the title suggests, she’s mad as hell and wants the whole world to know it.
How about some ethereal electro-pop? TYSM has already blessed The Drop with exquisite gems like “Honeymoon Phase” and “Rearview.” Her winning streak continues with “Ghost White Dress,” which blends the Nashville-based singer’s breathy vocals and knack for melody with Felix Snow’s demented, multi-layered production to great effect. Equally stunning is George Maples’ “Hold Me By The Waist.” The Australian singer/songwriter has been dropping random gems for years but she pulls it all together on debut LP, Lover. The highlight for me is the sparse, atmospheric and utterly gorgeous “Hold Me By The Waist.”
Let’s wind things up with two very different songs about friendship. 15-year-old Au/Ra has been pegged as One To Watch and you can tell why with “Outsiders,” a rollicking anthem about the joys (?) of not fitting in. “We might be the outsiders but the in-crowd is so out right now,” she sings over a gloomy electro-pop production. It’s catchy and very relatable. Electro-R&B duo WatchTheDuck is less introspective on “Only Friends,” praising the real ones who will peel you off the floor when drunk. It’s a bop. Stream it in my playlist below.