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 have probably heard Taylor Swift’s “Call It What You Want” and possibly checked out Sam Smith’s sophomore LP, The Thrill Of It All. But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a legendary pop duo. Aly & AJ have been chipping away at a comeback for a number of years, briefly changing their name in a bid for anonymity. The “Potential Breakup Song” hitmakers have wisely decided to embrace their legacy on upcoming EP, Ten Years. Brooding electro-pop anthem “Take Me” set the tone for their new era, while new single “I Know” is softer and dreamier. Welcome back! Another iconic pair of divas is Allie X and VERITE. They join forces on a must-hear rework of “Casanova.”
If you’re feeling a little pissed off, Olivia O’Brien’s “No Love” will resonate. After breaking big with “i hate u, i love u,” the singer/songwriter has dropped a string of moody, introspective bops like “RIP” (my personal fave) and “Empty.” The latest track from her imminent debut EP, It’s Not That Deep, is a raised middle-finger to the fake fucks in LA. Another rising star going through it is Madison Beer. After reinventing herself on “Dead,” the 18-year-old is still seething on “Say It To My Face.” This new, alt-pop approach is really working for her.
Things are a little less gloomy in Britain. RAYE cements her status as pop’s new party-starter by interpolating Ja Rule & Ashanti’s 2001 smash “Always On Time” on her new single. “Decline” is an unstoppable earworm that delivers hook after hook. It also name-checks Beyonce, so it’s obviously a modern classic in the making. Charli XCX similarly makes her presence felt this New Music Friday via a feature on David Guetta and Afrojack’s “Dirty Sexy Money.” It’s easy to get lost on this kind of banger, but the Brit’s vocal cuts through the frenetic production with ease.
It was also a good week for antipodean pop. You might know Eves Karydas better as Eves The Behavior. She dropped a handful of perfect electro-pop gems in 2015 (“Electrical” and “TV” were the standouts). The Aussie singer packed her bags and moved to London in search of inspiration. Her latest, “There For You,” is still widescreen synth-pop, but the lyrics cut a little deeper and the production is richer. New Zealand’s So Below has carved out a niche as a purveyor of wintery goth-pop tunes with gems like “Hard” and “Sleep.” Her latest is typically icy, but “Close” is comparatively upbeat. She is definitely One To Watch.
How about a couple of protest songs? MILCK’s defiant “Quiet” became the unofficial anthem of January’s historic Women’s March On Washington when her performance went viral. She drops a reworked version as a show of support for sexual assault survivors in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and #METOO movement. It’s powerful stuff. The same applies to Christina Aguilera’s “America.” The bluesy pop/rock anthem preaches hope, inclusion and togetherness — a timely message in 2017. Her vocal is also out of this world.
Next up is The Alley’s absurdly good “No More.” An old-fashioned torch song (complete with a 24-piece string arrangement courtesy of Erik Arvinder), “No More” is the best song Adele never recorded. Who is this newcomer? The Alley is actually a side-project for Swedish producer iSHi. He wants to release timeless tracks that don’t easily fit into the pop world. That’s something Feist has been doing her entire career. After dropping one of the year’s best albums with Pleasure, the Canadian returns with a random (but utterly perfect) cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye.”
While it was a banner week for female artists, a couple of dudes left their mark. Vance Joy rolls out the second song of his sophomore LP today. Like “Lay It On Me” (one of my fave songs of the year), “Like Gold” is another gentle tune that packs a lot heavier pop punch than you would assume from the first listen. Another crooner known for his laid-back vibes is Andy Grammer. He has been moving towards a more contemporary pop sound for a while now and “Smoke Clears” is the next step in the journey with its blend of acoustic guitar and synths. Another stripped-back another worthy of your attention is U2’s “Get Out Of Your Own Way.” I don’t mean to be scandalous but I haven’t liked a U2 song since “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own.” This, however, pulled me in from the first verse.
Let’s wind up with a trio of bangers. Swedish duo State Of Sound has been steadily churning out chill bops since going viral with their cover of Bryan Adams’ “Heaven.” “High On You” is another worthy addition to any dance playlist. The same goes for Ryan Riback & Iselin’s “Do You Care.” The Aussie producer, who broke big with his remix Starley’s “Call On Me,” knows how to finely balance pop and electronica. If you just want to shower in euphoric club beats, LIONE’s dreamy “Adore” is the song for you. Listen to it in my playlist below.