The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring King Princess & UPSAHL
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 Benny Blanco and Calvin Harris’ addictive “I Found You” and possibly checked out “Baby,” Clean Bandit’s glorious collaboration with Marina and Luis Fonsi. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a pop royalty. Mariah Carey has well and truly got her groove back, dropping bop after glorious bop of late. From the (absurdly underrated) “GTFO” to “With You” and “The Distance,” I have loved every track from the Caution era. However, “A No No” just might be my favorite. Co-written with the brilliant Priscilla Renea, this catchy banger finds Mimi at her shady best. Another chart-topping legend joining the New Music Friday lineup is Katy Perry. She delivers a gorgeous cover of “Waving Through A Window” from the Dear Evan Hanson soundtrack. Grab a tissue because this will trigger feelings.
Looking for something a little more upbeat? Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Party For One” is guaranteed to raise serotonin levels and get your toe tapping. A sparkly loner anthem (or perhaps an ode to the joys of masturbation), this is the Canadian pop star’s most obvious radio hit since “I Really Like You.” With any luck, it will follow that legendary bop into the top 40. Equally appealing is Little Mix’s “Joan Of Arc.” The second taste of the UK girl group’s practically-titled LM5 album is more instant and club-friendly than “Woman Like Me,” but every bit as feisty and empowered. They have really come into their own in 2018.
Next up is a trio of future superstars. Hailee Steinfeld has already carved out a niche for herself as the princess of radio-friendly club fare with bangers like “Starving,” “Let Me Go” and “Capital Letters.” The 21-year-old has another hit on her hands with “Back To Life,” a key addition to the Bumblebee soundtrack. Equally consistent is Sabrina Carpenter. She blesses New Music Friday with “Bad Time” — yet another gem from her tantalizing Singular: Act 1 project. Another artist on the cusp of very big things is UPSAHL. After going viral with a string of independently-released singles, she makes her major-label debut (via the recently relaunched Arista Records) with “The Other Team.” This upbeat, relatable examination of unrequited love has serious chart potential.
If you prefer your pop with an indie twist, look no further than King Princess’ “Pussy Is God.” As you can tell from the title, this ode to the divine feminine is something of a religious experience. The 19-year-old hasn’t put a foot wrong since debuting with “1950,” but this bop really showcases her fucks-free attitude and oddball pop sensibility to the fullest. Less outrageous but equally captivating is Glades’ “Sweetheart,” one of the many gems on the Aussie trio’s just-released To Love You LP. Shadowy synth-pop doesn’t get much better than this. How about a little R&B? Moxie Raia first popped up on my radar way back in 2014 with “Buffalo Bill,” but she has subsequently peeled back the layers to unleash something more raw and soulful. Get reacquainted with her via “Shades Of Blue.”
How about a smattering of stripped-back, lovingly interpreted covers? Anna Of The North leads the charge with a hauntingly sparse cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” The Norwegian alt-pop phenomenon was never going to eclipse Sinead O’Connor’s Grammy-winning version, but she isn’t trying to either. This is simple, heartfelt and beautiful. That description also applies to Angus & Julia Stone’s exquisite take on 5 Seconds Of Summer’s “Youngblood.” In the Aussie duo’s capable hands, the band’s upbeat hit becomes a melancholy lament. It should also be noted that Morrissey makes a rare appearance in the New Music Friday lineup with a faithful cover of The Pretenders’ “Back On The Chain Gang.”
As usual, some of the week’s best pop comes from Australia. I have already sung the praises of Glades and Angus & Julia Stone, but there are a couple of other tracks well worth mentioning. William Singe struck gold with a feature on Jonas Blue’s “Mama,” a club anthem that has racked up more than one billion cumulative streams. He is hoping to capitalize on that momentum with “Please,” his second single for RCA Records. As much as I liked “Rush,” the 26-year-old’s latest takes it to the next level with a killer chorus and slick beats courtesy of The Monsters & The Strangerz. Guy Sebastian also leaves a lasting impression with the soulful “Before I Go.” Still best known in the US for platinum-selling hit “Battle Scars,” that might just change with this soaring single.
Speaking of Aussies and soul music, Theophilus London joins forces with Tame Impala for the disco-leaning, funk-laced “Only You.” This is one of those rare collaborations that perfectly marries elements from both of their (very distinctive) sounds to create something new and wonderful. It deserves to find the biggest possible audience. The same goes for Isaac Gracie’s “you only live once.” The British singer/songwriter has garnered serious buzz for songs like “reverie” and “show me love,” which makes his close up – looking down EP one of the year’s most hotly-anticipated.
Let’s wind up with some bangers! (It’s Friday, after all). EDM duo NOTD teams up with German producer Felix Jaehn and US songwriting and production outfit Captain Cuts for “So Close.” This could have been a case of too many cooks, but the absurdly catchy floorfiller works on all levels. Shout out to featured vocalist Georgia Ku! Vicetone and Haley Reinhart’s dreamy and dramatic “Something Strange” is similarly well executed and instant, while Alle Farben somehow makes LAUV and Julia Michaels’ “There’s No Way” even more fun with his upbeat remix. Check it out in my playlist below.