The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Anna Of The North, Clairity & Astrid S
Fridays can be overwhelming for pop aficionados. 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 circumvent that scenario with a new feature called The Drop — a cheat sheet to help you survive New Music Friday. And you’re going to need all the assistance you can get on this very Good Friday. From high-profile pop releases (Nick Jonas and Tove Lo’s “Close,” Fifth Harmony’s “The Life” and Meghan Trainor’s “Watch Me Do”) to hidden treasures, there are more songs than usual to sift through.
Let’s start with a pair of Scandipop gems. Norway’s Anna Of The North arrived in a blaze of blog buzz last year with “The Dreamer.” She lives up to the hype on follow-up single “Baby,” a sleepy electro-lullaby with a faint R&B twist. It’s beautifully-executed DIY pop that promises great things for her debut EP. Countrywoman Astrid S takes a similarly less-is-more approach on “Paper Thin” — that is, until the chorus kicks in and the 19-year-old’s shimmery synth-pop anthem takes flight.
While it’s undoubtedly a banner week for Norway, their neighbors aren’t lagging too far behind. Sweden’s Hilda (real name Hilda Stenmalm) opts for hands-in-the-air power pop on anthemic debut single “Smashing Hearts.” I can’t wait to hear more from her. Another Swede blessing us with new music is the ever-reliable Tove Styrke. The “Borderline” diva lends her voice to Big Wild’s club instrumental “Aftergold” — elevating it to radio-ready pop perfection.
And then there’s the homegrown pop crop. Clairity continues to impress with soaring synth-ballad “Broken Things.” Championed by Kesha’s mom, the 18-year-old has been generating serious buzz since the release of debut EP Alienation in 2015. With any luck, this could be the track that takes her to the next level. I’m less familiar with Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Camryn, but she makes a good first impression with punchy pop anthem “Machines.”
Hungry for hip-hop? I got you. Breakout duo Rae Sremmurd debut a second, highly explicit taste of sophomore LP SremmLife 2. With lyrics about bitches, bottles and condoms, and shout-outs to Charlie Sheen and Miley Cyrus, “Over Here” is the soundtrack to your next party (that gets shut down by the cops). It looks like A$AP Ferg is also in the mood to turn up. He teams up with ScHoolboy Q for seriously smooth collaboration “Let It Bang.” Pay particular attention to the jazzy hook.
What about the veterans? Rap legend Flo Rida (I said what I said) is back on top thanks to the surprise success of “My House,” which means that it was only a matter of time until we got another pop-friendly bop. And “Who’s With Me” more than meets the brief. Fellow old-timer Wyclef Jean returns to the music scene with “My Girl.” The Fugees MC raps over a Latin-infused dance beat, while an uncredited female vocalist sings the hook. It reminds me of “Hips Don’t Lie,” which is obviously a good thing.
There’s also plenty of goodies for indie-pop fans. Swedish trio Peter Bjorn And John return with “Breakin’ Point,” a typically wistful tune with a deceptively colossal chorus. It could be their biggest hit since 2006 classic “Young Folks.” Speaking of songs with crossover potential, AAA faves Fitz & The Tantrums deliver hook upon hook on catchy new single “HandClap.” It’s every bit as good as “The Walker.” And let’s not forget K.Flay (real name Kristine Meredith Flaherty). She caters to the depressed — but in the mood to party — crowd with the endlessly relatable “FML”.
That leaves us with a couple of killer dance tracks. Having made a name for themselves with brilliant remixes, Australian/English duo MAIZE knocks it out of the proverbial park with soulful electro-anthem “Remember To Lose,” which sounds like a Stuart Price remix of a ’90s R&B ballad. Looking for something a little heavier? UK dance heavyweight DJ Fresh teams up with Dutch newcomer Erik Arbores for monster club instrumental “Elevator.” Turn this all the way up.