The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Kygo, Whethan & Nao
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 avoid that tragic scenario with The Drop — a cheat sheet of sorts to get you through New Music Friday. By now, you’ve probably heard Troye Sivan and Ariana Grande’s mellow “Dance To This” and possibly checked out Kelly Clarkson and Dan + Shay’s “Keeping Score.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
As you can already tell, this week was all about collaborations. Let’s start with one of the most unexpected. Club/rock crossovers are increasingly common (think Coldplay and The Chainsmokers, U2 and Cheat Codes etc) but the thought of Imagine Dragons teaming with Kygo is still a little hard to process. Happily, “Born To Be Yours” is a drowsy EDM delight with unabashedly romantic lyrics. Martin Garrix and Khalid’s “Ocean” is similarly mellow and loved-up. The production on this is glorious and it deserves to be a hit.
If you like your club collaborations even dreamier, may I suggest Whethan and Oh Wonder’s “Superlove.” The 19-year-old producer’s latest concoction is admirably low-key and multi-layered. It’s the kind of song that creeps up on you, charming you a little more with each blip and bleep. Sam Feldt and SYML’s “Where’s My Love” is a butter-soft blend of acoustic elements and synths. The Dutch DJ came across the exquisite original on Spotify (it’s well worth a listen) and, to his credit, treated it with kid gloves.
Pop stars were also in a collaborative mood this week. Los Angeles singer/songwriter FRANKIE has been quietly dropping indie-pop gems since arriving with “New Obsession” in 2016, but “Ghost” is her most instant single to date. A cute duet with Pentatonix star Scott Hoying, this doo-wop bop about being left on read is as catchy as it is relatable, and boasts one of the year’s cutest videos. Noah Cyrus and Tanner Alexander take a more stripped-back approach on the lovely, country-leaning “Lately.”
Last but not least (on the collaboration front) is Luis Fonsi and Stefflon Don’s absurdly catchy “Calypso.” The Puerto Rican superstar would be forgiven for resting on his laurels after the global success of “Despacito,” but he followed it up with another smash and is now going for a hat-trick. I’m impressed by how well the UK rapper rides the Latin beats, she’s a superstar. That also applies to Raja Kumari. After penning hits for artists like Gwen Stefani and Fifth Harmony, the Indian singer/rapper could have one of her own with “I Did It.” This goes hard.
What about the pop girls? Well, they were out in full force this week. Bebe Rexha has the magic touch as the astronomical streaming numbers of “Meant To Be” prove. She ramps up the excitement for Expectations, her much-anticipated debut LP, with “I’m A Mess” — the kind of raw and honest bop that is destined to resonate well beyond her growing army of Rexhars. I love a good comeback, so I was excited to Cher Lloyd in the New Music Friday lineup. She teams up with Swedish producer Joachim Molitor for romantic club banger, “4U.” Welcome back! Another major pop moment comes from Aly & AJ. They haven’t put a foot wrong since reclaiming their name and sound on 2017 EP, Take Me. “Good Love” suggests that the trend is going to continue well into 2018.
If you’re looking for a tear-jerking, inspirational ballad, Christina Aguilera’s “Unless It’s With You” is the song for you. Liberation, the diva’s first album in six years, dropped today and it requires repeat listens to fully appreciate, but this soaring ballad is an instant highlight. Monogamy never sounded more appealing! Sigrid’s “Focus” is equally pretty, but less blissful. The Norwegian pop star is at a crossroads in her relationship and she’s trying to figure things out before cutting her losses.
We’ve had a wedding song and a breakup anthem, how about a pair of alt-leaning tunes that document the emotional fallout after things end? Aussie singer Emma Louise is probably best known abroad for “Jungle,” particularly the hit Wankelmut remix, but she has a long track record of dissecting matters of the heart in pop songs. “Wish You Well” comes across as a more depressed, but somehow less whiny “Someone Like You” and I was obsessed from the first listen. The always-brilliant Nao covers similar territory on “Another Lifetime.” I can’t wait for her sophomore LP!
Let’s wind up with a couple of breezy tunes from singer/songwriter dudes. Jason Mraz’s “Have It All” is one of my favorite songs of the year. He returns to New Music Friday with “Unlonely” and it’s another perky bop with deceptively clever lyrics and catchy melodies. His sixth LP, Know., is shaping up to be something special. Noah Kahan is just at start of his career, but he already has a major streaming hit on his hands with “Hurt Somebody.” The more upbeat “Come Down” is destined to follow suit. Check it out in my playlist below.