The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring A R I Z O N A & Blonde
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 Justin Timberlake’s summery “SoulMate” and possibly bopped along to Iggy Azalea’s “Kream.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a pair of electro/indie-pop acts. A R I Z O N A has been an obsession of mine since hearing “Cross My Mind” in 2016. After landing multiple streaming hits from their debut album, GALLERY, The New Jersey trio returns with two new songs, “Summer Days” and “Freaking Out.” I love them both, but the latter is a little more instant and emo. Exploring a not entirely dissimilar soundscape is Nightly. The duo’s honest EP caught everyone’s attention, but they take it to the next level with the Sir Nolan-produced “Phantom.” This is an anthem.
Next up is a couple of boy band graduates. Niall Horan proved that there’s life after One Direction with his mega-successful Flicker album. The Irishman nabbed a couple of massive hits (“Slow Hands” is still that song) and carved out a niche with organic pop/rock sound. He now blesses New Music Friday with “Finally Free,” an upbeat toe-tapper from the Small Foot soundtrack. While The Wanted hasn’t been as powerful a launching pad as 1D, if anyone from the group can make the leap to solo stardom it’s Max George. The crooner comes out swinging with the summery “Barcelona.”
While pop’s leading ladies were relatively quiet this week, RAYE comes through with a banger. “Friends” finds the Brit tackling female rivalry over a blistering beat. It’s catchy, brimming with attitude and has something real to say. After featuring on a handful of smash hits, it’s about time the 20-year-old had one of her own. Another artist on the brink of very big things is Clairo. Since going viral with “Pretty Girl,” the 19-year-old has generated a mountain of hype. She more than lived up to it on debut EP, diary 001, and now shows off her pop chops on SG Lewis’ dreamy “Better.”
With Pride month coming to an end, it only feels right to shine a light on a pair of rule-breakers that refuse to be pigeonholed. Christine And The Queens continue to turn pop music inside out with her fresh and quintessentially French take on the genre. She backs up the tables-turning “Girlfriend” with “Doesn’t Matter,” a track that finds her ruminating on the existence of God over a chunky bass-line. Holland also marches to the beat of his own drum. K-Pop’s first openly gay star, he serves up the lush and lovely “I’m Not Afraid” — complete with a video that was (absurdly) restricted on some streaming platforms.
The bangers continue with Blonde’s “Me, Myself & I.” A thumping house collaboration with Bryn Christopher, this ranks alongside “Just For One Night” (one of my favorite songs of 2017) as the Bristol duo’s catchiest single to date. If you’re feeling wronged, feisty or just celebrating your independence, this is the tune for you! Miami producer Landis takes the exact opposite approach on the bouncy “Ain’t Drinking Alone,” which is also an entirely relatable mood. This follows a string of viral remixes and swing-house bop “Nang Nang.”
Let’s wind things up with a trio of thoughtful remixes. “Chateau” is shaping up to be the breakout hit from Angus & Julia Stone’s (great) Snow LP. The original has already amassed 57 million streams on Spotify and ARTY’s dreamy overhaul is sure to bring the song to a whole new audience. The same goes from R3HAB’s winning remix of Dan + Shay’s country smash, “Tequila.” Their pop crossover hit is coming! Last but not least is Jeremy Larson’s Violents Remix of Kacey Musgrave’s “High Horse.” Check out his disco revision in my playlist below.