The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring bülow & Josie Dunne
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 Pink’s iTunes-topping “Walk Me Home” and hopefully checked out Adam Lambert’s deeply personal “Feel Something.” But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a couple of newcomers on the brink of very big things. Josie Dunne caught everyone’s attention in 2018 with her soulful, Motown-referencing To Be The Little Fish EP. She now rejoins the New Music Friday lineup with an alt-pop bop called “Mute” — and I think I prefer this direction. It’s youthful, fun (the song is about liking someone a whole lot better when they keep their mouth shut) and very, very catchy. Those adjectives also apply to bülow’s “Sweet Little Lies.” An ode to escaping reality, the “Not A Love Song” singer’s latest is destined to generate even more buzz, nudging her ever closer to an inevitable commercial breakthrough.
How about a couple of synth-pop anthems? Nightly rolls out their first new single of 2019 and “No Call, No Reply” is another winner. The Nashville-based duo’s The Sound Of Your Voice EP is only a couple of months old, but why sit on a bop this dreamy and emotionally resonant? LA’s Phantoms also bless New Music Friday with a telephonic tune. They team up with Shaylen (she impressed last year with major label debut single “El Dorado”) for an unusually sweet and, dare I say it, romantic song about a booty call. It sounds like a hit.
Next up is couple of country queens in crossover mode. Maren Morris reaches a whole new audience with “The Middle” and it seems like that dalliance with pop has rubbed off on her own music. She rolls out “The Bones” as the third buzz track from her Girl LP (out March 8) and the Greg Kurstin-produced song finds the sweet spot between homespun country wisdom and pop hooks. I’m very much on board. Kacey Musgraves is no stranger to blurring genre lines and the multiple Grammy winner adds a whimsical touch to Judah & The Lion’s very good “Pictures.”
Need more singer/songwriter fare in your life? Don’t worry, I got you. John Mayer is enjoying something of a revival in the wake of “New Light” and he keeps the momentum going with “I Guess I Just Feel Like.” A stripped-back song about outrage fatigue, it promises good things for his 8th LP. Tom Walker is also going through it on “Not Giving In,” a soaring plea for a loved one to make better decisions. Less depressing is James Bay’s “Peer Pressure.” A sexy collaboration with Julia Michaels, this sounds like the radio hit that Electric Light was missing.
As usual, some of the week’s best pop comes from the southern hemisphere. Aldous Harding’s Party was one of my favorite albums of 2017 (“Imaging My Man” remains one of the most jarringly good pop songs in recent memory) and the New Zealand auteur is on track to have one of the best of 2019 if “The Barrel” is any indication. Her third LP, Designer, drops on April 26. Riley Pearce is also garnering a lot of attention with his poetic folk songs. “Windmill” could be the track that propels the Perth singer/songwriter to global attention. Fans of Vance Joy, Matt Corby and Dean Lewis should check him out.
It was also a good week for European artists with San Holo returning to the New Music Friday fold with “Lead Me Back.” The Dutch artist/producer is on a hot streak, dropping finely-wrought bangers at will, but this is my favorite yet. “Lead Me Back” is a multi-layered daydream of a song with just enough heart and weirdness to cut through the noise. Equally appealing is Digital Farm Animals’ “Lookin’ For.” After producing hits for artists like Galantis, Bebe Rexha and Louis Tomlinson, the Brit could have one of his own with the genre-blending collaboration with Latin pop star Danny Ocean.
Let’s wind up with a couple of bangers. Martin Garrix is one of EDM’s most reliable party-starters and the Dutchman is in fine form on “No Sleep.” Featuring Bonn (they previously collaborated on “High On Life”), this is the kind of fist-pumping, BPM-rocking banger that I’ve missed during the downtempo wave. Last but not least, Oliver Nelson teams up with Tobtok for “Yellow.” They call on rising Brit Liv Dawson to provide the vocals and the result is an unstoppable club smash. Play it loud in my playlist below.