The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring The Bliss & Lena
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 Iggy Azalea’s iTunes-climbing “Sally Walker” and hopefully checked out Nasty Cherry’s killer “Win.” But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start this week’s edition of The Drop in Deutschland. While Scandinavia is generally considered to be the cradle of Euro-pop, artists like LEA and Lena prove that the Germans can hold their own. Speaking of the former Eurovision winner, Lena returns to the New Music Friday lineup with an absolute gem called “Don’t Lie To Me.” There’s an unusual twist to this plea for honesty (she’s been naughty too) and the breezy, tropical-tinged production is perfect for spring. Emma Elisabeth’s melancholy-drenched “Pilot,” on the other hand, is more wintery in tone. The Berlin-based Swede continues to impress with her hazy, genre-defying anthems and this is her best one yet.
Up north in Sweden, the perfect pop continues to flow like tap water. Laleh, Max Martin cohort and one-time Adam Lambert collaborator, has never released a bad song — a winning streak that continues with “Knock Knock.” This is a bone-rattling banger with a distinct hip-hop twist. If you prefer your Swedes in dreamy dance-pop mode, Clara Mae’s “Lost” is the song for you. The first taste of her sophomore EP is a wispy, synth-drenched delight. Think late ’00s September with an even softer touch.
Norway’s girl in red takes a very different approach to her Swedish neighbors. She creates sparse, washed-out bedroom-pop with poetic lyrics and surprisingly big hooks. Take the absurdly relatable “i need to be alone..” It has the kind of sing-along chorus (complete with retros “oh oh ohs”) that would make a major label A&R salivate. Billie Marten is similarly restrained in her folk-adjacent approach to pop. “Blue Sea, Red Sea” was one of my favorite songs of 2018 and “Betsy” is another achingly lovely addition to her discography. It’s the latest single from her whimsically-titled Feeding Seahorses By Hand LP (due in April).
If you prefer your pop with big vocals and a soulful twist, I’ve got you covered too. Emeli Sandé makes a triumphant return to New Music Friday with “Sparrow.” Instead of relaunching with a banger (she’s good at those too), the Brit strips it back to basics and showcases that beautiful voice. RuthAnne takes a similar approach on the breathtakingly good “Love Again.” I’m more familiar with her work as a songwriter (this Queen wrote JoJo’s “Too Little Too Late” and Britney Spears’ “Work Bitch”), but consider me a fan of her artist project as of now.
How about a couple of mellow collaborations? SG Lewis reunites with Clairo on “Throwaway,” and it’s every bit as airy and enchanting as “Better.” Their latest electro-pop adventure is about the search for a connection that is real and lasting. Good luck finding it in LA! Jeremy Zucker takes a more organic approach on the guitar-based “comethru.” Already a streaming sensation (more than 100 million cumulative streams) the emotional tune is destined to soar even higher with the addition of a soulful verse from Bea Miller. She continues to surprise with each new release.
Next up is a pair of (veteran) newcomers. Young Bombs cut their teeth remixing other artists and racked up close to 100 million streams in the process. They unleash their first original onto New Music Friday and it’s an ’80s-tinged explosion of synths and percussion complete with a (slightly demented) high-pitched chorus. I want more. The same goes for The Bliss. A supergroup of sorts comprised of Felix Snow and TYSM, the duo already grabbed my attention with “Got The Love” and now take it to the next level. “Nothing Scares Me Anymore” is the perfect marriage of his out-of-box approach to electro and her sugary sweet vocals.
Prefer your bangers with a male vocalist? Look no further than “All The Lies.” A collaboration between Alok and Felix Jaehn featuring prolific boy band The Vamps, this is commercial club-pop with the kind of anthemic chorus that will intrigue radio programmers. Given their consistently good output, The Vamps are certainly due for another hit. A sentiment that also applies to Jake Miller. The frequently-shirtless pop star won me over with “Wait For You” and now continues his dalliance with electro-pop on the emo “NIKES.”
It wouldn’t be New Music Friday without a little Latin flavor. Rising Mexican pop star Sofia Reyes is hoping for a “Despacito”-like crossover hit with “R.I.P..” And she is all but sure of getting one thanks to this insanely catchy female empowerment anthem featuring global hitmakers Rita Ora and Anitta. Another track with huge chart potential is Sean Paul and J Balvin’s “Contra La Pared.” This furious banger is a dancehall/reggaeton hybrid with one of the most explosive beats to assault my ears in 2019.
Let’s wind up with a couple of country anthems with a twist. Devin Dawson landed a well-deserved commercial breakthrough with his Dark Horse LP in 2018, a collection of tunes that obviously caught the attention of Ireland’s Beoga. You might know them from Ed Sheeran’s “Galway Girl.” Anyway, it’s an unlikely match that works exceedingly well. Last but not least is Walker Hayes. The country crooner randomly drops a pop remix of 2017 hit “You Broke Up With Me” and it works for me. Check it out in my playlist below.