The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Tove Lo & The Palms
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 prevent that tragic scenario with The Drop — a cheat sheet to get you through New Music Friday. By now, you’ve probably heard The Weeknd’s surprise EP, My Dear Melancholy, and possibly checked out Cardi B’s new single, “Be Careful.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a trio of Scandinavian pop divas. MØ can do no wrong in my eyes. She bounces from flawless features to underrated solo singles with careless abandon, blessing dance floors with an endless supply of bops. Her latest, “Nostalgia,” falls somewhere between the pure pop of “Final Song” and the alt-leaning When I Was Young EP. Which turns out to be a very sweet spot. Another perfect pop star, Tove Lo is going through something of a fucks-free period with Lady Wood and Blue Lips. She now teams up with Karma Fields, who is billed as “the world’s first AI artist.” I don’t really get it, but “Colorblind” is a flittering floorfiller of the highest order. I already wrote about Sigrid’s gorgeous “I Don’t Want To Know,” but here’s another reminder that it deserves your attention.
Next up is a pair of artists redefining what it means to be a queer pop star. You probably recognize Keiynan Lonsdale from the blockbuster movie Love, Simon, but you might not know that he’s been chipping away at a music career for a while now. His latest track, “Kiss The Boy,” is a sweet, R&B/pop hybrid that exudes joyful pride and highlights his soulful voice. He is definitely One To Watch. The same goes from Nashville’s Brasko. The newcomer makes exuberant dance-pop with an ’80s twist and “TMYLM,” an acronym for “Tell Me You Love Me,” is no exception.
On the topic of (future) gay icons, let’s move on to a diva who has already attained that status. The LGBT community has supported Kylie Minogue since the ’80s, faithfully stanning during the hitmaker’s pop, rock and alternative phases. She is now dabbling in country and “Raining Glitter” is another adorable addition to her discography. While we’re talking about pop/country queens, it should be pointed out that Kacey Musgraves’ just-released Golden Hour is a perfect album and “Wonder Woman” is my favorite song on it.
I can’t move on from gay icons without noting that Lady Gaga is part of this week’s New Music Friday lineup with a cover of Elton John’s “Your Song.” It’s faithful to the original and should placate Little Monsters until she rolls out new music. Grace VanderWaal also delivers a cover — of sorts. She deconstructs Johnny Nash’s 1972 chart-topper “I Can See Clearly Now,” adding original lyrics to make it current and meaningful to her generation. It’s always dangerous to tamper with a classic, but “Clearly” really works.
How about a couple of collaborative hip-hop bops? Tinashe’s Joyride should be retitled Hellride to adequately convey the album’s nightmarish two-year journey to iTunes. At least, the music has been consistently good. After dropping a couple of mid-tempos, Tee takes us straight to the club with “Me So Bad” — a hip-swinging banger featuring Ty Dolla $ign and French Montana. It could well turn this era around. The same goes for Ne-Yo’s “Push Back.” After a couple of misfires, his 7th album gets a shot of momentum courtesy of this dancehall-tinged monster featuring the piping-hot Bebe Rexha and Stefflon Don. Equally catchy is Bantu’s “Just A Little,” the artist/producer’s latest banger inspired by the sounds of Africa. He joins forces with fellow Zimbabwean Shungudzo to create fire. Play it loud.
It wouldn’t be New Music Friday without a raft of new bangers and the harvest is typically plentiful this week. The most pop-centric would have to be Digital Farm Animals’ “Tokyo Nights.” The UK producer calls on the ever-amazing Dragonette and Shaun Frank for a supremely catchy party anthem. Equally euphoric is the Flight Facilities remix of ODESZA and Naomi Wild’s 2017 club hit, “Higher Ground.” Looking for something a little more emo? You should check out FRENSHIP’s “GOOD MORNING, Goodbye.” The duo has spent a lot of time calibrating their sound after breakthrough hit “Capsize” and have arrived at a mellow, melancholy EDM soundscape. This should prove appealing to pop radio.
Let’s slow things down with a couple of blurry-eyed anthems. LA duo The Palms put a gritty, indie-rock spin on Lana Del Rey’s “Love,” taking it to a darker, but still distinctly West Coast place. Something tells me Lana will appreciate this version. It’s the kind of shadowy, widescreen anthem she lives for. Equally evocative is Lord Huron’s “When The Night Is Over.” The folk band experienced a surge of popularity when 2015 single “The Night We Met” became a belated hit thanks to a sync on 13 Reasons Why. The second single from Vide Noir (due April 20) is seductive midnight listening.
Let’s wind up with a couple of tunes from pop’s premiere singer/songwriters. Lauv has already won a huge following with streaming hits like “The Other” and “I Like Me Better.” He returned this week with “Chasing Fire,” a song about hanging on to the bitter end of a relationship. After switching things up with a soulful synth-pop anthem and blistering rock moment, James Bay returns to the stripped-back rock/pop of his debut album on “Us.” It’s moving, raw and promises big things for Electric Light (due May 18). Listen to it in my playlist below.