The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Mallrat & MGMT
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 prevent that tragic scenario with The Drop — a cheat sheet (of sorts) to get you through New Music Friday. By now, you’ve probably already heard Julia Michaels’ second Fifty Shades Freed contribution, “Are You,” and possibly checked out Noah Cyrus and MØ’s rowdy “We Are Fucked.” But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a couple of impeccable bangers. Dua Lipa also makes an appearance on the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack via “High,” a collaboration with electronic producer Whethan. The “New Rules” diva can do no wrong right now and she eats this dark and dangerous bop. Marshmello is similarly invincible at the moment. The bucket-wearing hitmaker follows up “Silence” and “Wolves” with “Friends,” a suitable angry anthem about setting boundaries. Anne-Marie’s feisty personality really comes through on this one.
While we’re on the topic of collaborations, Brisbane’s Mallrat teams up with Allday for “UFO.” The teenager, who impressed everyone with “Better,” takes it to the next level on this electronic ditty about loneliness and… aliens. From the casually spoken verses to the deceptively catchy soaring chorus, everything about this is just right. Another Aussie artist to watch is Holiday Sidewinder. The indie pop diva, who — fun fact — Sia babysat as a child, blesses New Music Friday with the delightfully-titled “Tra$h Can Luv.” This gorgeous, ’80s-referencing anthem sounds like Madonna through the lens of 2018 alt-pop. More please.
If lo-fi, ’80s-inspired tracks float your boat, you need to check out MGMT’s latest. The duo has been on an experimental bent since conquering the world with Oracular Spectacular, but they find their way back to (AAA) radio-friendly fodder with the effortlessly cool “Me And Michael.” If this is any indication, their just-released Little Dark Age LP is going to be good. Equally impressive is Jesse Saint John’s “Move.” He revisits the raw energy of ’00s alt-dance (think blog favorites like Le Tigre and Electric Six) on his impossibly catchy debut single. This feels like the start of something big.
One of the biggest surprises of the week is the reinvention of James Bay. Sick of being pigeonholed as the long-haired, soulful rock guy, he decided to switch things up by dropping a sexy, synth-driven anthem that evokes Prince circa Parade. Yes, “Wild Love” is that good. While the “Let It Go” crooner is busy channeling the ’80s, Toni Braxton throws it back to her ’90s hey day on “Long As I Live.” The second taste of her upcoming Sex And Cigarettes album (due March 23) is a silky smooth mid-tempo. As usual, the vocal is ridiculous.
While most artists take inspiration from the past, Danny L Harle always looks forward. The PC Music founder teams up with Clairo for electro-pop ballad “Blue Angel.” A striking combination of crisp, crystalline synths and emotional lyrics, this is the saddest song to arrive today. Nashville’s Chelsea Lankes explores a similarly sparse electronic soundscape on “Easy,” but the tone is completely different. The newlywed is all loved-up and that comes through from the opening note to the last. I particularly like the less-is-more drop.
How about a couple of ballads? Finneas, brother and frequent collaborator of pop ingenue Billie Eilish, is generating serious buzz of his own with songs like “I’m In Love Without You” and “New Girl.” He embraces the role of ’70s-inspired balladeer (Simon & Garkfunkel are shaking) on the delightfully miserable “Break My Heart Again.” Another piano-pop moment comes from Calum Scott, who calls on Leona Lewis for a duet version of current single “You Are The Reason.” It’s not the edgiest track of the week, but sometimes it’s really nice to listen to people who can actually sing.
Let’s wind up with a couple of remixes. Dutch jazz/pop diva Caro Emerald had a real moment in the late ’00s, racking up European hits with songs like “Back It Up” and “A Night Like This.” She introduced her third LP, Emerald Island, last year with “Whatchugot.” It now gets an extremely fun remix that should help it find a much bigger audience. (Give it a spin if only for the lyric “I like the oboe, but I love the bassoon!”) Equally enjoyable is Dave Aude’s electro-house overhaul of The Greatest Showman ballad “This Is Me.” Check it out in my playlist below.