Must-Hear New Pop From Ellie Goulding, Sean Paul, Queen Naija & More

Mike Nied | June 29, 2018 3:45 pm

We’re taking a break from writing The Drop this week (it will be back July 6), but I couldn’t let New Music Friday pass without highlighting some of the best pop releases. You have probably already heard both of Charli XCX’s club-ready anthems, “Focus” and “No Angel,” as well as Joe Jonas and Jonas Blue’s euphoric “I See Love.” Meanwhile Drake scored a posthumous feature from Michael Jackson on his must-hear “Don’t Matter To Me” off Scorpion. However, there are several other essential bops that need to be on your radar. Let’s start with a welcome return from one of pop’s most distinctive voices: Ellie Goulding.

After tackling a whimsical cover of Don McLean’s “Vincent” for Valentine’s Day, she teams up with the iconic Sean Paul on “Bad Love” today (June 29). Over a searing beat she ensnares herself in an intoxicating relationship. “You got that bad, bad love, and I just can’t get enough,” she declares, looking for another hit while her collaborator delivers equally evocative verses. It is her first original release since linking up with Kygo on “First Time” last year, and it could easily net her another hit on the charts.

Florence + The Machine dropped their highly anticipated High As Hope today. A streaming highlight off the project has been “Patricia.” An ode to iconic rocker Patti Smith, it is a dazzling anthem. “Oh Patricia, you’ve always been my North Star. And I have to tell you something, I’m still afraid of the dark,” the flame-haired siren announces on the opening lines. The track builds in power as it moves into the chorus, and it is another undeniable offering. All things considered, it is easy to see why it is racking up streams. It is one more testament to the album’s power when considered alongside previous releases “Hunger” and “Sky Full Of Song.”

Up-and-comer Queen Naija’s “Karma” picks up where her bold “Medicine” left off. After getting even with an ex over slick beats on her debut single, the 22-year-old’s latest offers a sense of closure. “Go ahead and have your fun now. Just remember what goes around comes around,” she sings over a smooth R&B-tinged production. Clearly the anthem is resonating with the masses. In the hours after its release it soared up to the number 2 spot on US iTunes. I’d keep an eye peeled for the diva on the Billboard Hot 100 if things keep up at this pace. She cracked the Top 50 with her first single, but this could soar even higher.

After winning The Voice in 2015 and dropping his debut LP, Something Beautiful, in 2016, Jordan Smith launches a new era with the release of his soaring “Only Love.” Produced by RedOne, the single is a powerful tribute to the power of love. “Only love can look inside a human heart and see us for who we are. Who we are would be enough, if only there was only love,” he yearns on the chorus. It will serve as the titular track to his forthcoming third album, out later this summer.

Years & Years continue teasing the release of their sophomore LP, Palo Santo with “All For You.” The group has already hinted at the scope of the project. Lead single “Sanctify” is a forbidding serving of pop, while the follow-up “If You’re Over Me” is a twinkling breakup anthem. The title track opens as a sparse mid-tempo but transforms as a racing beat comes in. Their latest is a synth-laden bop. Here, frontman Olly Alexander sings about a temporary romance. He delivers another evocative vocal performance, and it is safe to say that their album will be one of the most exciting to arrive next week.

Keiynan Lonsdale closes out Pride with the release of his soulful new single “Preach.” The Love, Simon actor captured my ears with the release of his sweet anthem “Kiss The Boy” this spring. His latest is another earworm. Over a sunny production he delivers an empowering message. “For me it’s about fucking with your own soul, agreeing to be on the ride together no matter what, and discovering/remembering that magic is real if you believe it so,” he told The FADER about the release. The accompanying video is equally compelling. Serving serious looks and executing some tightly choreographed moves, the rising star makes it abundantly clear that he is the full package.

Bad Bunny closes things out with his new anthem “Estamos Bien.” The 24-year-old scored a breakout hit in America alongside Cardi B and J Balvin on “I Like It.” The Latin-tinged banger has been blocked from the top spot by XXXTentacion’s “SAD!,” but they are sitting comfortably at number 2 on the Hot 100. In the meantime, his latest is a smooth, Spanish-language bop. He sounds confident on the mellow mid-tempo, and this could easily prove to be a summer smash on radio. If the video is anything to go by, it perfectly soundtracks a day at the beach at least.

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