The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Sevdaliza & Ona
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 Pink and Cash Cash’s unexpected club anthem, “Can We Pretend,” and possibly bopped along to Ellie Goulding’s nostalgic “Sixteen.” But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a couple of bangers with a Scandinavian connection. Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus’ “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” was a massive hit everywhere except America, which is as inexplicable as it is annoying. The producer might have more luck with “Late Night Feelings.” Featuring the otherworldly vocals of Sweden’s Lykke Li, this is a dreamy dose of nu-disco. More uptempo is Seeb’s “Free To Go.” Since landing a global hit with their remix of Mike Posner’s “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” the Norwegian duo has been churning out their own tunes. They now join forces with Highasakite for an explosion of pure club euphoria.
It would be remiss of me to write about Scandi-bangers without mentioning Avicii’s “SOS.” The first single from the Swede’s posthumous LP is bittersweet. As with everything he touched (and most of the song was completed while Avicii was alive), it is electro-house perfection. His struggle with mental illness is just abundantly clear from the lyrics — even if it is, on the face of it, a love song. Galantis’ remix of Kygo and Valerie Broussard’s “Think About You” is more of a feel-good affair. The Swedish production duo transforms the melancholy tune into a dreamy dance anthem with massive crossover potential.
If alt-pop is more your thing, Hey Violet returns to New Music Friday with “Better By Myself.” The band’s first new single in two years is as catchy as it is relatable. Rena Lovelis preaches the benefits of leaving a shitty relationship and being on your own, but is insightful enough to realize that complete isolation isn’t exactly good for you either. This is one of four new songs the quartet will be releasing throughout spring and summer. Another bad-ass with a new tune is Baby Goth. The 21-year-old exists in that grey area between hip-hop and just about every other genre (think Post Malone), which you can experience for yourself on her just-released “So High.”
As usual, some of the week’s best pop comes from Australia. Arguably the country’s biggest female pop star after Kylie Minogue, Jessica Mauboy has racked up more than a dozen top 20 hits with songs that cover dance-pop, R&B and even drum-and-bass. Oh, and she also represented Oz at Eurovision. (Justice for “We Got Love!”) The 29-year-old returns with a soulful, sing-along smash called “Sunday.” With any luck this is the first taste of JM4. Meg Mac is feeling similarly feisty on “I’m Not Coming Back.” The latest cut from her sophomore LP, Hope, showcases the breakout star’s brilliant vocals and knack for writing songs that punch you in the gut. Bring on the album.
How about a little alt-pop with a folky, extremely quirky twist? New Zealand’s Aldous Harding has basically created her own mini sub-genre with demented, poetic and occasionally jarring anthems like “Imagining My Man” and “The Barrel.” She continues her wonderful, oddball journey on “Fixture Picture.” Occupying a not-entirely dissimilar space is West Virginia’s Ona. Indie-rock, folk and alt collide on their lovely “Young Forever,” the latest track from Full Moon, Heavy Light (out May 10).
Looking for some chill tunes that won’t turn your brain into mush? Norah Jones returns to the New Music Friday lineup with a new album (well, more specifically a collection of singles) called Begin Again. I haven’t had the chance to dive in yet, but the title track stands out as one of Norah’s best releases since “Happy Pills” and (my personal favorite) “Miriam.” Sevdaliza needs no introduction to fans of alt-R&B. 2017’s ISON catapulted the Iranian-Dutch diva to cult stardom and her following will only grow with the arrival of the cinematic, deeply mysterious “Martyr.”
Let’s wind up with a couple of veteran pop/rock dudes with feel-good anthems. Once every couple of years, Andy Grammer blesses us with a toe-tapping bop that crosses over from HAC to pop radio. His latest is called “Don’t Give Up On Me” (you might have heard it in Five Feet Apart) and it gets a typically great remix from Dutch DJ R3HAB. The song deserves to find a bigger audience. The same goes for Rob Thomas’ “Timeless.” I loved fists-in-the-air pop/rock of “One Less Day (Dying Young),” but this might be even better. Check it out in my playlist below.