The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Sydney Rhame & Ames
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 Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s iTunes-topping “Shallow” and possibly dropped it low to DJ Snake’s bone-rattling, star-studded “Taki Taki.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a couple of bangers. Vanessa Hudgens, star of High School Musical and pop icon behind “Sneakernight,” returns to the music fray with a feature on Phantoms’ “Lay With Me.” The LA duo finally gives Vanessa the soundtrack she deserves and they come together effortlessly for a sizzling, radio-friendly bop. Less current (this throwback anthem has one foot firmly planted in the ’90s), but equally addictive is Kylie Minogue and Sigala’s “What You Waiting For.” It’s so nice to have dance-pop’s holy queen back where she belongs.
The impeccable club collaborations continue with Alan Walker and Sophia Somajo’s “Diamond Heart.” I’m thrilled that the Swedish pop star landed a major feature after years of dropping flawless electro-pop singles (start with “Klein Blue” and go from there). This track showcases the underrated singer’s powerful vocals, which rival Sia’s in their ability to convey emotion and lift EDM to new heights. That’s a quality that Robyn also possesses and it goes without saying that “Honey,” the blissful title track of her upcoming 8th LP, is one of the week’s best new tracks.
While we’re on the topic of Swedish excellence, it should also be noted that LÉON released a new single this week and “Baby Don’t Talk” finds a pleasing middle-ground between her pop-centric Treasure EP and the soulful leanings of Surround Me. It’s an instantly catchy, playful bop with massive radio potential. That description also applies to Hanne Mjøen’s “Sounds Good To Me.” The Norwegian pop star first appeared on my radar with gems like “Future” and “Vanilla,” but this is an intoxicating burst of Scandipop that suggests an imminent breakthrough.
It was actually a good week for newcomers in general. Shaylen came out swinging with her supremely confident debut single, “El Dorado.” The song is about knowing your worth and believing in yourself and she gets that message across via an interesting metaphor and catchy beats. Sydney Rhame finds herself on the quirkier side of the pop spectrum with her alt-leaning debut single, “Lose Myself.” The teenager was apparently a contestant on The Voice in 2015 (I missed that season), which is surprising because she is vastly more interesting than most alumni of that show. Mark her down as One To Watch.
In the mood for something a little slower? The Japanese House makes a welcome return to the New Music Friday with “Lilo,” a dreamy synth-pop song about the initial hesitation and subsequent surge of bliss that happens when you fall in love (again) after a bruising breakup. It is dedicated to the new woman in her life. Themes of sexuality and acceptance are also important to Ames, who is perhaps better known as a songwriter (she has written songs for Kelly Clarkson, Tori Kelly and Rita Ora among others). That is about to change with “Hold On,” an uplifting anthem that was inspired by growing up gay in a religious household.
Another songwriter making the leap to pop star is Sasha Sloan. After penning hits for Camila Cabello, Tinashe and Maggie Lindemann, she could have one of her own with “Faking It.” Produced by King Henry, this is a deceptively catchy and all-too relatable tune about going through the motions in a relationship. Her moment is coming. It could be argued that Julia Michaels’ has already arrived. She teams up with fellow breakout star LAUV for a fun and flirty duet called “There’s No Way.” This is every bit as instant as “Issues.”
Looking for some easy listening for the weekend? Don’t worry, I got you covered! Michael Bublé returns with his first single in two years and it’s a blissful version of Nat King Cole’s “When I Fall In Love.” It’s the first taste of his upcoming 10th LP, ❤️ (pronounced Love). If this is any indication, the Canadian crooner has another mega-seller on his hands. That also goes for Barbra Streisand’s Walls (due November 2). She rolled out the first taste of her much-anticipated 36th LP this week and it’s an unexpectedly political anthem called “Don’t Lie To Me.” This is arguably the classiest protest anthem of all time.
Let’s wind up with a couple of remixes. Zedd has the Midas Touch when it comes to dance-pop crossovers and he delivers a sparkling overhaul of Shawn Mendes’ “Lost In Japan.” The German DJ updates the production and tinkers with the tempo without ruining the magic of the original. The same can be said for Kia Love and Vertue’s winning remix of Freya Ridings’ breakthrough single, “Lost Without You.” A surprise sleeper hit in the UK, this stunning ballad makes the transition to the dancefloor remarkably well. Check it out in my playlist below.