The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Vallis Alps & Sasha Sloan
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’ve probably already heard Louis Tomlinson’s latest solo outing, “Miss You,” and possibly checked out G-Eazy and Halsey’s “Him & I.” But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with the biggest song of the week. Beyonce and Ed Sheeran are currently sitting at number one on iTunes with a reworked version of “Perfect.” Of all the tracks Queen Bey has jumped on this year (“Shining,” “Mi Gente” and “Walk On Water”), this is by far the best. A simple, heartfelt ballad with harmonies sent from heaven, “Perfect” will only get bigger as the weather gets colder. Exploring a similarly stripped-back, folk-tinged soundscape is First Aid Kit’s “Fireworks.” Everything the Swedish duo touches turns to gold and this is no exception.
Unfortunately, in the wake of Thanksgiving, there is a dearth of radio-ready pop this week. (I guess everyone and their publicist took the week off). However, we were blessed with a couple of pop-adjacent bops. Pia Mia should be a household name at this point. She has the talent, good looks and a laptop full of (mostly unreleased) bangers. Hopefully, the arrival of “Off My Feet,” another instantly catchy anthem, is a sign that her debut album is finally coming together. It’s been 84 years. Next up is Musical.ly star Baby Ariel. I couldn’t pick the “Queen of Gen Z” out of a lineup, but I’m not exactly her demographic. That being said “Aww” is a perfectly pleasant earworm with a quirky alt-pop twist.
After lending her honey-dipped vocals to a string of club collaborations (Kygo’s “This Town” and Odesza’s “Falls,” for example), Sasha Sloan came out swinging with her King Henry-produced debut single in October. “Ready Yet” explored matters of the heart with the skill of surgeon, a quality that’s on display on the equally-emotional followup “Runaway.” She is definitely One To Watch in 2018. Another singer/songwriter with a mean pen is Lissie. Catching A Tiger is one of favorite albums of all time (“When I’m Alone” is that song), but I couldn’t get into her last couple of albums. I have a suspicion that’s about to change with Castles (due March 23) given the breathtaking lead single, “Blood & Muscle.”
While pop’s elite are in hibernation, the club crowd is as prolific as ever. Martin Garrix joins forces with David Guetta for an emo-floorfiller called “So Far Away.” Voiced by Jamie Scott and newcomer Romy Dya, this is mellow, acoustic-laced EDM with a majestic drop. If your like your dance music a little more upbeat, Jax Jones comes through with “Breathe.” The Brit, who had a massive 2017 courtesy of collaborations with RAYE and Demi Lovato, teams up with songwriter extraordinaire Ina Wroldsen for “Breathe” and it could be his catchiest single yet.
Like your electronica a little more offbeat and experimental? The ever-brilliant Vallis Alps blesses New Music Friday with “So Settled.” While not as instant as “East” or as sweeping as “Young,” the duo’s latest delivers three minutes of blissful synths. More structured but equally dreamy is Michael Mar’s “Let You Down.” The LA-based producer caught everyone’s attention with debut single “Don’t Talk About It” and he should reach an even bigger audience with the followup thanks to the memorable chorus and distinct pop sensibility.
Let’s move on to new music from two of 2017’s breakout acts. PRETTYMUCH established themselves as the logical successor to One Direction’s boyband throne with a string of excellent singles. (“Would You Mind” is perhaps the most slept-on song of the year). They team up with French Montana for a new track called “No More” and it proves that they are just as comfortable at hip-hop as ’90s-referencing pop and R&B. Cardi B’s fairytale run shows no sign of letting up either. She links with Juicy J for an X-rated bop called “Kamasutra” and it’s an endlessly-quotable delight.
From “Despacito” to “Havana” and “Mi Gente,” Latin-pop has crossed over in a major way. In fact, I’m getting flashbacks to the Latin craze of the early ’00s when Shakira, Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony wreaked havoc on the charts. It’s only a matter of time before Pitbull capitalizes on the trend with a radio-conquering smash. Who knows, it could happen with “Locas” — one of two new tracks from his just-released greatest hits. Bad Bunny is another Latin superstar due for crossover success. The Puerto Rican rapper, who recently featured on Becky G’s “Mayores,” drops a smash of his own with the bone-rattling “Chambea.”
That leaves us with a couple of country songs. LANCO caught lightning in a bottle with “Greatest Love Story.” The nostalgic tune reached number one on the country charts and climbed all the way to number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their latest, “Born To Love You,” is destined to widen their audience even further with its evocative lyrics and soaring chorus. Chris Stapleton also knows how to pull on the heartstrings. While “Millionaire” is the obvious hit from From A Room: Volume 2, “Friendship” pushes all the right emotional buttons. Listen to it in my playlist below.