The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Tove Styrke & Empress Of
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 have probably heard Mariah Carey and Ty Dolla $ign’s sublime “The Distance” and possibly checked out Dua Lipa and BLACKPINK’s ridiculously catchy “Kiss And Make Up.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with two of the brightest Next Gen stars. Zara Larsson skillfully dodges the dreaded sophomore slump on “Ruin My Life.” An instantly catchy banger with a massive chorus, this is the Swede’s best single since “Symphony.” While Zara is defiantly pop, Billie Eilish skewers more alt. That hasn’t stopped the 16-year-old amassing billions of streams and landing multiple entries on the Billboard Hot 100. She should gather even more momentum with the arrival of “when the party’s over” — a relatable lament about being bombarded with texts while you’re out.
While we’re on the topic of social gatherings, Sasha Sloan is over them on the deceptively-titled “Chasing Parties.” Everything the singer/songwriter has released since launching her artist project has been excellent and this mellow tune, which shows a softer, less-morose side, is no exception. Another newcomer with a small but impressive discography is Lennon Stella. Since debuting with the perky “Bad,” she has landed a feature on Jonas Blue’s “Polaroid” alongside Liam Payne and now blesses New Music Friday with “Breakaway,” a raw track inspired by her parents’ breakup. Carlie Hanson is also going through it on “Toxins” — a potentially massive tune about escaping reality via any means necessary. (But mostly weed).
Matters of the heart dominate the next two songs. LA’s Empress Of is everywhere this week, popping up on MØ’s brilliant Forever Neverland album and Khalid’s hit-filled Suncity EP. Oh, and she also dropped her sophomore LP — a breathtaking collection of DIY pop called Us. For a taste of her unique approach to pop, check out the perky, loved-up “I Don’t Even Smoke Weed” — a bop about being blinded by love. Monica Martin’s rose-colored glasses, on the other hand, are nowhere to be found on “Cruel.” The former PHOX singer shares a couple of home truths on her beautifully-produced (shoutout to Eg White) debut single. She is definitely One To Watch.
As usual, some of the week’s best pop comes from Scandinavia. Tove Styrke’s Sway is one of my favorite albums of the year and it just got better thanks to the addition of a new bop called “Vibe.” Nobody packs a hevaier pop punch while doing so little. Sweden’s other Tove, the incomparable Ms. Lo, also dropped new music this week. She teams up with Major Lazer on “Blow That Smoke,” an instantly catchy, island-tinged banger that could give “Lean On” a run for its money.
Looking for something a little more organic and stripped-back? Isaac Gracie returns to the New Music Friday lineup with “show me love.” The UK singer/songwriter has been compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake, such is the quality and emotional honesty of his songwriting. That skill is on full display on the latest, (by his standards) unusually upbeat cut from his close up – looking down EP (due November 16). Another Brit with a mean pen game is Tom Odell. His third LP, Jubilee Road, is shaping up to be his best yet if singles like “If You Wanna Love Somebody” and “Half As Good As You” are any indication. His hot streak continues with “Go Tell Her Now.”
One of the few good things to happen in 2018 has been the emergence of a new crop of queer artists and a greater openness and fearlessness among existing ones. This week, for example, we were treated to Troye Sivan and Jónsi’s exquisite “Revelation” from the Boy Erased soundtrack (give them their Oscar!), Calum Scott’s deeply autobiographical and moving “No Matter What” from the upcoming rerelease of his Only Human LP and JHart’s intensely relatable breakup anthem, “Why Does It Hurt.” Anyone who has clung on to the bitter end will feel this one.
Let’s wind up with a trio of bops. Sophia Black teams up with Canadian producer Sleepy Tom for a club monster called “Move.” After testing the waters with recent singles “Real Shit” and “Fire,” this could deliver big streaming numbers. The same goes for NEIKED’s collaboration with (very underrated) Swedish pop star Miriam Bryant. “How Did I Find You” is a euphoric banger with loved-up lyrics that will hopefully work internationally like 2016’s “Sexual.” Last but never least is the divine DEV. The “In The Dark” diva comes through with a slick bop called “Down For Me.” Check it out in my playlist below.