The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Washington & Sasha Sloan
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 Jennifer Lopez and Bad Bunny’s sultry “Te Guste” and hopefully checked out Ashley Tisdale’s pop-saving comeback, “Voices In My Head.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a couple of enduring superstars. The Backstreet Boys revival is in full swing with “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” becoming their biggest hit in more than a decade. The legendary man band could soar even higher on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Chances.” Penned by Ryan Tedder and Shawn Mendes, this is an absolute anthem. Speaking of which, Kelly Clarkson sinks her teeth into one courtesy of The Greatest Showman Reimagined. The inaugural American Idol’s version of “Never Enough” is a blinder, showing off the full extent of her vocal range.
How about some new blood? Sasha Sloan already established herself as One To Watch with her excellent Sad Girl EP. Not one to rest on her laurels, the prolific singer/songwriter returns to New Music Friday with the deeply-personal “Older.” This bare-bones tune bleeds like an open wound as the newcomer unpacks her difficult childhood and the lessons she learned from it. Lennon Stella is also going through it on “Fortress.” The 19-year-old displays wisdom beyond her years on this Greg Kurstin-produced bop about protecting your heart. Her debut EP drops next Friday (November 16).
Another 19-year-old with a mean pen and beautiful voice is Billie Marten. The Brit’s serene debut LP, Writing Of Blues And Yellows, is a firm favorite of mine, and she shows no sign of suffering from the sophomore slump. Particularly, if songs like “Blue Sea Red Sea” are any indication. Upbeat on the surface, this charming ditty is actually about her struggle with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). LÉON is also a frequent flyer when it comes to Idolator. The Swede’s winning streak continues with the irritatingly relatable “Falling,” a song about repeatedly making bad decisions.
Next up is a pair of collaborations that don’t make sense on paper. Madison Beer teams up with Offset on the Charli XCX-penned “Hurts Like Hell.” A delightfully bitter breakup anthem, this bop repositions the teenager as a pop star surprisingly well suited to rhythmic fare. She is really coming into her own. That also applies to Becky G. The busiest woman in pop (I’ve lost count of the songs she has released this month) now tries her hand at country — with a little help from Kane Brown. “Lost In The Middle Of Nowhere” shouldn’t work, but I’m completely obsessed.
While female artists led the way this week, a couple of fellas made New Music Friday a brighter place too. Matt Simons takes a step back on “Amy’s Song,” using his platform to tell (co-writer) Amy Kuney’s story about coming out in a conservative household. It’s raw, powerful and more than a little heartbreaking. The latter adjective could be used to describe a fair chunk of Andrew McMahon’s discography. The singer/songwriter follows up the melancholy “Ohio” with an equally affecting tune called “Paper Rain.” His third LP, Upside Down Flowers, drops next Friday (November 16). I can’t remember the last time I pressed the pre-order button this fast.
As usual, some of the week’s best pop comes from Aussie artists. Allday, an LA-based rapper hailing from Adelaide, has released two great albums, but is probably still best known (here) for his features on Troye Sivan’s “for him.” and Mallrat’s “UFO.” That could change with “Wonder Drug,” a remarkably honest hip-hop/electro-pop concoction that outlines the soul-sucking struggle of trying to make shit happen in the music industry. Brisbane’s Washington can probably relate. The ARIA Award winner returns after a two-year hiatus with an ’80s-channeling synth-anthem called “Claws.” It’s a potent reminder that pop is more interesting with her in it. (See the video for further proof).
Let’s wind up with a couple of bangers. EDM heavyweights Steve Aoki and Jonas Blue both released albums today and both of them well worth a listen. After the first spin, I can’t go past Steve’s collaboration with Bella Thorne as the obvious highlight of Neon Future III. As for the Brit’s pragmatically-titled Blue album, my favorite is a banger called “Desperate” featuring the lovely Nina Nesbitt. Check it out in my playlist below.