The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Laleh, The Heirs & Jonas Blue
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 circumvent that tragic scenario with a new feature called The Drop — a cheat sheet (of sorts) to get you through New Music Friday. By now, you’ve probably heard Shawn Mendes’ iTunes-conquering “Treat You Better” and possibly checked out DJ Snake’s Song Of The Summer contender, “Talk.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a trio of producers backing up huge hits. Jonas Blue follows up his mega-selling remake of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” with an extremely catchy original called “Perfect Strangers.” It adeptly blends pop, tropical and future house elements to create a summery anthem with serious radio appeal. Belgian DJ Lost Frequencies unleashes his third smash in a row (“Are You With Me” and “Reality” were monster hits around the globe) with “Beautiful Life,” while Alan Walker backs up “Faded” (which almost worked stateside) with another dreamy floorfiller called “Sing Me To Sleep.”
As usual, some of the week’s best new pop hails from Sweden. Singer/songwriter Laleh, who recently featured on Adam Lambert’s “Welcome To The Show,” joins forces with electronic duo CAZZETTE for “Blue Sky.” The earthy, acoustic guitar-infused deep-house anthem packs an unexpected punch. Less high brow is Peg Parnevik’s reggae/pop concoction “We Are (Ziggy & Carola),” which is a lot more enjoyable than the title suggests. Meanwhile newcomer Thomas Lundell takes a completely different approach on the lovely, folk-leaning “Lovestains.”
While the Swedes had a particularly good week, the rest of Europe isn’t far behind. The Drop favorite GIRLI shows a sweeter, (dare I say) softer side on “Too Much Fun.” The lyrics are still as biting/hilarious (“wanna lose weight but I wanna get takeout”) as ever but this is the closest the feisty wordsmith has come to radio-friendly pop. More please. Fellow Brit Little Boots never strays far from her icy electro-pop formula and new single “Staring At The Sun” is no exception. Why ruin a good thing? I don’t discover as much new pop from the mainland as I’d like, but Madeline Juno has been on my radar for a while now. The German diva continues to impress on “You Know What” — the latest cut from very good sophomore LP Salvation.
As usual, Australian artists more than hold their own. Emmi first made waves by landing a Taylor Swift co-sign and the Perth singer/songwriter continues on her soulful pop journey with bittersweet belter “You Said You Loved Me.” Looking for some slick, effortlessly cool Aussie electro? Producer PON CHO teams up with Paige IV, who voiced LDRU’s epic “Keeping Score,” for “Lonely Walls.” It boasts the gnarliest drop I’ve heard in ages. Less edgy, but no less unexpected is Jai Waetford’s “Heart Miles.” The last thing I heard from the X Factor alum was bubblegum pop anthem “Your Eyes,” which makes this Haddaway-interpolating bop with a tropical breakdown something of a (very welcome) surprise. Last but not least is NYNE, who hails from Melbourne and has one of the catchiest songs of 2016 on her hands with “Bad Trip.” It’s only a matter of time before she breaks internationally.
We’ve been a round the world, but what about the best local pop product? I got you. Feisty rock goddess Elle King contributes rollicking anthem “Good Girls” to the Ghostbusters soundtrack, while Republic Records signee Amos Lee lives up to the hype with soulful earworm “Vaporize.” The strings that come in at the end are an unexpected delight. Los Angeles-based duo Shallows also impress with cosmic synth-pop anthem “Empire Of The Animals” (give it time, the song gains momentum as it goes along) as do the winning combination of GOLDHOUSE and Lostboycrow. “Free From The Start” could be the breakthrough hit both have been chipping away at for a while.
If you like a little rock mixed into your pop, look no further than Fitz & The Tantrums’ “Roll Up.” I thought “HandClap” was the band’s most pop-centric record to date, but this is breezy, sing-along tune is alt-pop at its most accessible. Next up are a couple of newcomers. Weathers are signed to RCA and being touted as an alt-rock outfit, which might be true but “Happy Pills” has a big pop chorus. There’s no confusion with The Heirs. The newcomers come out of the gate swinging with irresistible debut single “What You Want.” Written and produced by the team behind Daya’s “Hide Away,” don’t be surprised when you hear this on the radio in the very near future.
That leaves us with the week’s new club bangers. San Francisco DJ Slaptop delivers summery house anthem “Think About You,” while ever-reliable Dutch producer MOTi drops “Louder.” With its heavy bass and melodic chords, this is the perfect soundtrack to your next party. Or rave. The could be said for Sak Noel & Salvi’s “Trumpets.” The Dancehall-tinged floorfiller features Sean Paul and a killer drop. Check it out in my playlist below.