Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Zhavia & Robinson
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 avoid that tragic scenario with The Drop — a cheat sheet of sorts to get you through New Music Friday. By now, you have probably heard DJ Khaled and Justin Bieber’s “No Brainer” and possibly checked out to David Guetta and Anne-Marie’s looming summer smash, “Don’t Leave Me Alone.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with two of pop’s most formidable forces. Charli XCX has really found her groove this year. After a couple of head-scratching moments (“After The Afterparty” springs to mind), she got it very, very right with “Focus.” The Brit now follows it up with the equally catchy “Girls Night Out.” Hopefully, this will pull a “Boom Clap” and conquer pop radio. Tinashe is also back in the zone after that Joyride fiasco. R&B’s slept-on queen introduces a fierce alter ego on the sleek “Throw A Fit.” This is her best track since “2 On.”
It was also a good week for the next wave of female pop stars. Elley Duhé is currently enjoying a breakout hit as the voice of Zedd’s very good “Happy Now,” but she isn’t resting on her laurels. The buzz artist rolls out a new single called “WAY DOWN LOW” and it’s an angsty, ultimately uplifting anthem with a massive chorus. Keep an ear out for her debut EP, Dragon Mentality (due August 10). Another singer on the brink of superstardom is Maggie Rogers. She returned in May with the brilliant “Fallingwater” and her winning streak continues with the atmospheric, surprisingly danceable “Give A Little.”
Another newcomer that needs to be on your pop radar is Zhavia. The 17-year-old was the breakout star of Fox’s The Four (despite not winning) due to her unique style, bold song choices and powerful pipes. She recently featured on French Montana, Lil Pump and Diplo’s Deadpool 2 banger “Welcome To The Party,” but she takes a very different approach on her debut single. This soulful, deeply personal ballad promises big things for the future. New Zealand’s Robinson also has a lot to look forward to. The 21-year-old’s debut single, “Nothing To Regret,” racked up more than 50 million streams and the blurry, relatable “Don’t Trust Myself” should do even better.
The guys didn’t make quite as big a mark on New Music Friday — with a couple of exceptions. Alec Benjamin hasn’t put a foot wrong since returning in May with “Let Me Down Slowly.” The 23-year-old followed it up with the equally good “Boy In The Bubble” and now drops his best song yet, the deeply affecting “If We Have Each Other.” Alt-pop trio lovelytheband’s “pity party” also tackles a serious subject (anxiety), but the tone is lighter and defiantly celebratory. This should build on the success of “these are my friends.” Their debut album, finding it hard to smile, arrives August 3. I have already pre-ordered my copy.
Things are a little less intense in Scandinavia. Signed to TEN (the home of Zara Larsson and Icona Pop), Benjamin Ingrosso is shaping up to be quite the pop star. He recently represented Sweden at Eurovision, landing a European hit with “Dance You Off.” The 20-year-old now backs it up with the pleasingly sarcastic “I Wouldn’t Know,” which is easily his best song to date. Another Swede with a hot new track is Brother Leo (AKA Ola Svensson). You might remember him for 2012’s “All Over The World,” but the pop veteran has completely revamped his sound with a little help from Fatboy Slim. The result, “Strangers On An Island,” is a summery bop with global appeal.
The Brits also had a decent week. IDER’s “You’ve Got Your Whole Life Ahead Of You Baby” leads the way with its razor-sharp exploration of the terror that grips twenty-somethings. The North London duo, who earned an early co-sign from Shura, made a huge impression with songs like “Pulse” and “Sorry” in 2016. They have been relatively quiet since then, but this was worth the wait. Manchester’s Pale Waves offers a more joyous perspective on youth with the rollicking synth-rock of “Eighteen.” As usual, this wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack of a John Hughes movie.
How about a romantic duet? Jason Mraz, who recently came out as having “two spirit” sexuality, teams up with Meghan Trainor for the lovely “More Than Friends.” I’m still obsessed with “Have It All,” but this stripped-back delight could turn out to be the biggest hit from the singer/songwriter’s new LP, Know (due August 10). Chris Brown and AGNEZ MO are similarly hot under the collar on their romantic new single, “Overdose.” With any luck, this will be the Indonesian superstar’s first US hit. It is certainly silky smooth enough to work on urban radio.
Let’s wind up with a couple of flawless remixes. Spanish/German singer Alvaro Soler is hoping for a “Despacito”-like crossover hit with “La Cintura.” The catchy track has already conquered Europe and could do the same in America courtesy of a killer remix featuring TINI and Flo Rida. It’s a bop. That also applies to Ciara’s delightfully retro “Level Up” remix. She reunites with “Lose Control” collaborators Missy Elliott and Fatman Scoop on the irresistible banger. Check it out in my playlist below.