The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Olivia O’Brien, Bishop Briggs & Sevyn
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 feature called The Drop — a cheat sheet (of sorts) to get you through New Music Friday. By now, you’ve probably heard Adam Lambert’s “Broken” and possibly bopped along to Danny L Harle and Carly Rae Jepsen’s PC Music/pop hybrid, “Super Natural.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a pair of artists on the brink of big things. Olivia O’Brien has a Song Of The Summer contender on her hands with gnash collaboration “i hate u, i love u.” The 16-year-old drops her solo debut today and it’s a doozy. “Trust Issues” finds the teen knee-deep in feelings, casually dropping truth bombs like “just letting you know that I’m emotionally unavailable.” It’s JoJo’s “Leave (Get Out)” for millennials. Another newcomer surfing a wave of hype is Bishop Briggs. She backs up “River” with another startlingly good single called “Pray (Empty Gun).” Sounding like a cross between BANKS and Jack Garratt, the LA-based Brit is shaping up to be one of the year’s break-out stars. I want to hear more.
In the mood to turn up? Sevyn comes through with bone-rattling banger called “Prolly.” Featuring Gucci Mane, the slinky hip-hop anthem is the first taste of her long-overdue debut LP, GIRL INTERRUPTED. (previously called On The Verge). It’s feisty, sexy and extremely catchy. People really need to stop sleeping on this woman. If raunchy, ’90s-tinged synth-pop is more your thing, look no further than Sam Bruno’s “Tip Of My Tongue.” The mysterious singer/songwriter proves that 2015 viral hit “Search Party” was no fluke with this gem.
As for the guys? Otis English makes a great first impression with “Young Kids, Old Love.” Starting off with a simple piano melody, the track takes a sharp turn into choppy electronica before finding an alt-pop middle ground. It’s all held together by a powerful vocal and unexpected sincerity. A R I Z O N A, who are currently enjoying a viral hit with “I Was Wrong,” also explore the border between alternative music and pop on “Cross My Mind.” From a sing-along chorus to relatable lyrics, it has all the ingredients of another crossover hit.
Now it’s time for a couple of (not so) guilty pleasures. Bon Jovi returns (sans Richie Sambora) with “This House Is Not For Sale” — the title track of their 14th LP. It’s not an obvious radio single, but they haven’t really tried for one since 2007’s “(You Want To) Make A Memory.” Like all good Bon Jovi records, this makes me want to grow a mullet and ride a Harley. Welcome back! Moving on from a legendary hair band to a new boy band, The Tide is sure to make the girls swoon with “Click My Fingers.” Signed to The Vamps’ record label (yes, you read that correctly), the perky track shows off their vocal prowess and boasts an unexpected drum & bass breakdown. It’s a promising start.
This edition of The Drop has been unusually US-centric, but there are a couple of stand-outs from the rest of the world. Australian producer Kilter already has one of the year’s better electro-anthems of 2016 to his credit with “Fool For You,” but he takes it up a notch with “They Don’t Know Us.” This veers closer to mainstream pop, sounding like Calvin Harris’ “Feels So Close” before the beat drops and everything goes delightfully skew-whiff. Another dance anthem demanding your attention is Porter Robinson’s brilliant collaboration with French DJ Madeon. “Shelter” is a shimmery, starry-eyed floorfiller for everyone sick of the downtempo dance trend currently plaguing radio.
That leaves us with a couple of quirky divas. Miss Li is a Swedish veteran (she’s released seven albums) with an unexpected summer anthem up her sleeve. “Bonfire” is a reggae-tinged ditty with world music vibes. It shouldn’t work, but the massive chorus and curiously touching lyrics (“we’re still young, I wanna have fun”) are undeniable. UK newcomer Alice Jemima takes a very different approach on “Dodged A Bullet” — a mesmerizingly beautiful pop song that sounds like Lissie circa Catching A Tiger (albeit with gloomy synth production). Take a listen in my playlist below.