The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Hey Violet & Beth Ditto
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 The Drop — a cheat sheet (of sorts) to get you through New Music Friday. By now, you’ve probably heard Fifth Harmony’s iTunes-conquering, Camila Cabello-less “Down” and possibly checked out Julia Michaels’ obscenely catchy “Uh Huh.” But that’s just the tip of the pop iceberg.
Let’s start with a couple of duos. As any pop aficionado knows, Aly & AJ dropped two stellar albums in the mid-’00s and landed a top 20 hit with the still-amazing “Potential Breakup Song.” They rebooted in 2013 as 78violet, but wisely reclaim their old moniker for “Take Me,” a dreamy synth-pop anthem that promises big things for their comeback. That takes us to The Veronicas. After dabbling in dance-pop on 2016 singles “In My Blood” and “On Your Side,” the Aussie twins switch it up with a pretty piano ballad called “The Only High.”
The Veronicas aren’t the old antipodean queens with a hot new track. The first couple of singles from Lorde’s sophomore LP fell flat, but she turns Melodrama around with “Perfect Places” — a jagged synth-pop anthem with the edge of Pure Heroine. Across the Tasman Sea, Meg Mac rolls out the second single from her long-overdue debut LP. “Low Blows” ranks as one of the year’s better soul-pop anthems, but “Maybe It’s My First Time” might be even better. From the rollicking chorus to the warm, organic production, this is a throwback to a different time and place.
A little closer to home, Beth Ditto drops another track from Fake Sugar (due June 16). I’ve loved everything from the album so far, particularly lead single “Fire,” but “We Could Run” is next level. This is a Bruce Springsteen-inspired, ’80s stadium-rock anthem with a soaring chorus and driving guitars. If The Gossip singer is ever going to land a radio hit, this is it. A band that has had no trouble getting their music on the airwaves is Hey Violet. “Guys My Age” and “Break My Heart” found them dabbling in synth-pop, but they strip it way back on “O.D.D.” and show a rawer, more vulnerable side. At this rate, From The Outside is shaping up to be one hell of an album.
Looking for something a little more upbeat? Verite has built a loyal following with a trio of independently-released EPs, but she should reach a much bigger audience with her debut LP. She teases Somewhere In Between (due June 23) with a crisp synth-pop anthem called “Saint.” Another female artist with a knack for crystalline electronica is Anna Of The North. The Norwegian diva rolls out “Lovers” as the next single from her similarly-titled LP and it’s possibly her most accessible track to day with comparatively uptempo production and a shimmery chorus.
While it was a strong week for female artists, a couple of fellas held their own (?). Jaymes Young returned to music scene a couple of weeks ago with an alt-leaning track called “Stoned On You” and reminded everyone why his Dark Star EP generated a tidal wave of buzz in 2013. He follows that up with a single called “Stone” and it’s the kind of sweeping, tender ballad that is a sync away from being his commercial break through. Equally emotional is Greg Holden’s “Boys On The Street.” Remixed by Seeb, this blurry banger documents a relationship between a gay man and his father. Think of it as “7 Years” for the LGBT community.
Let’s wind up with a couple of bangers. After releasing a string of viral remixes, Vanic dropped his first original track in 2016 and backed it up with Maty Noyes-assisted floorfiller “Too Soon” in January. He returns today with “Staring At The Sun,” a massive tune featuring Swedish diva Clara Mae (she was in a later incarnation of Ace Of Base). That takes us to AronChupa’s mind-bending “Llama In My Living Room.” I can’t believe this song actually exists. The lyrics are completely absurd (“he didn’t even make it through my kitchen door, he must have thought it was a dinosaur”) and there are actual llamas bleating (I think), but I fucking love that electro-swing sound. Listen to it, if you dare, in my playlist below.