The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring MØ, Allie X & SYML
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 Avril Lavigne’s soaring comeback single, “Head Above Water,” and possibly checked out Lana Del Rey’s sprawling, 10-minute epic, “Venice Bitch.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with two of the week’s biggest new releases. The ladies of Fifth Harmony have wreaked havoc on the charts in 2018 with Camila Cabello and Normani landing top 10 hits. That trend could continue with the arrival of Dinah Jane’s “Bottled Up.” Featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Marc E. Bassy, this R&B-tinged banger should find a lot of love from pop fans. The same goes for Rita Ora’s “Let You Love Me.” The Brit’s latest single from Phoenix (due November 23) is a bittersweet dance-pop moment that rivals “Anywhere” for replay value.
As usual, some of the week’s best new music comes from Scandinavia. MØ’s status as dance-pop’s most consistent artist is cemented with her latest bop. I don’t think the Dane has ever released a bad song, but she has been on fire lately — even by her lofty standards. Produced by Illangelo, “Imaginary Friend” combines the pop appeal of “Sun In Our Eyes” with the quirkiness of her early material. Play it loud. Norway’s Iselin takes a softer approach on “Lost,” a delicate synth-pop anthem about the aftermath of a breakup. She is definitely One To Watch.
The blissful dance-pop continues with Allie X’s “Little Things.” What more can be said about the demented diva’s flawless oeuvre? She just comes at pop from a completely different angle with scant regard for trends or radio. Which is ironic because her latest single, an ode to the crushing boredom of modern life, would sound amazing on the airwaves. Bring on Super Sunset! Starley is at an earlier stage of her career, but the Aussie pop star recently landed a worldwide hit with “Call On Me.” With any luck, history will repeat with the exceedingly catchy “Signs.” That description also applies to Sophomore’s (AKA Abigail Breslin) “Sleepwalking,” which seduces with a dreamy jumble of fuzzy synths and poetic lyrics.
Let’s slow it down for a minute. Alina Baraz returns to the New Music Friday lineup with “Feels Right,” a dreamy mid-tempo that wraps around you like a warm blanket. The 24-year-old wrote the song about letting go and living in the moment, and it definitely has a mantra-like aspect to it. This is the first taste of the followup to her massively-successful The Color Of You project. Believe it or not, Ruth B. (yes of “Lost Boy” fame) evokes a similar vibe on the languid, empowered “Rare” — a R&B-tinged jam about knowing your self-worth. This is an exciting new sound for her.
Cyn strips it back even further on the beautiful “I’ll Still Have Me.” One of two artists signed to Katy Perry’s Unsub Records (the other being Ferras), the newcomer immediately made waves with light and airy synth-pop anthems like “Alright” and “Believer.” Synths give way to strings on her latest, and this pretty ballad about marching towards the bitter end of a relationship will strike a chord with a lot of people. Germany’s bülow explores the flipside of that situation on “Two Punks In Love” — an adorable ditty about finding your soul mate.
How about a little rock? Elle King returned with a vengeance in early August with “Shame” and has been steadily teasing her sophomore LP, Shake The Spirit, with gems ever since. The latest is called “Naturally Pretty Girls” and finds the relatable rocker expressing frustration with those genetically-blessed individuals that roll out of bed looking like a supermodel. Kesha also joins the New Music Friday lineup with “Here Comes The Change,” a rollicking protest anthem from the upcoming Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic, On The Basis Of Sex. Give her that Best Original Song Oscar.
While female artists dominated this week’s batch of new releases, a couple of fellas held their own. So to speak. Noah Kahan’s breakout year continues with “False Confidence,” an instantly-catchy, folk-tinged anthem about his struggle for authenticity. Noah’s debut LP is shaping up to be one of the year’s most-anticipated. Scotland’s Lewis Capaldi is building similar buzz. The singer/songwriter follows up his critically-acclaimed Bloom EP with a loved-up single called “Grace” — complete with an amazing video that finds him moonlighting as a male stripper. This could be a big song for him.
Looking for something a little more upbeat? SYML is best known (to me, at least) for his soul-searching, minimalist songs like “Girl” and the still-incredible “Where’s My Love.” Which makes the ’80s movie soundtrack-evoking, synth-driven “Clean Eyes” something of a surprise. The Seattle artist/producer has a hit on his hands with this perky bop about letting go of cynicism. The good vibes continue with Basic Tape’s “Melody.” The French duo originally won a following for their remixes, but that’s about to change if they keep churning out earworms like this.
Next up is Loote, a duo that graces The Drop with their presence every other week. Emma and Jackson know their way around a killer pop chorus as past singles “High Without Your Love” and “Your Side Of The Bed” attest. They prove to have the Midas Touch with “Back Together” — a unusually optimistic bop about hooking up with your ex. Aussie trio Safia is in a less destructive mood on “Starlight.” This is a wonderfully spacey anthem that exudes atmosphere and seemingly pays tribute to French electronic acts like Air and Daft Punk. Press play and drift off.
Let’s wind up with a couple of bangers. Bantu’s “Roll With Me” gets a massive overhaul courtesy of Jonas Blue. Happily, the new version keeps the intricate balance of African rhythms and pop hooks intact. It simply ratchets up the BPM and updates the production to 2018. It’s going to soundtrack many a club night. The same goes for The White Panda and Caye’s “How Good We Got It,” a crossover-ready floorfiller with crisp production and a big chorus. Check it out in my playlist below.