The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring ILIRA & SYML
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 Lizzo & Missy Elliott’s body-positive bop, “Tempo,” and hopefully checked out Aaron Carpenter’s impressive debut single, “Attitude.” But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a pair of still-underrated pop divas. Becky G has conquered the Latin music world with bangers like “Mayores” and “Sin Pijama,” but her English-language output doesn’t get the same love. Which is absurd given the quality of songs like “Break A Sweat,” “LBD” and, now, “Green Light Go.” This sexy single deserves your full attention. The same goes for Pia Mia’s “Bitter Love.” As much as I love scandalous bops like “Do It Again” and “I’m A Fan,” Pia’s power ballad expertly showcases her softer side and powerful pipes.
If you like your pop with an alternative twist, Kailee Morgue has exactly what you’re looking for. A collaboration with Lesbian Jesus herself (AKA Hayley Kiyoko), “Headcase” is an instantly catchy, queer-power anthem from a female perspective. Which makes it well worth celebrating. While Maggie Lindemann is probably still best-known for “Pretty Girl,” she has proven to be an absolute chameleon when it comes to genre — jumping from bangers to gloomy dark-pop with ease. The 20-year-old now channels ’90s No Doubt on the relatable “Friends Go.”
Kailee and Hayley aren’t the only queer artists rolling out new music this week. Wrabel joins the New Music Friday lineup with a reworking of his unforgivably slept-on 2015 single, “I Want You.” This version strips away the club beats, exposing the song’s raw, beating heart. Time hasn’t wearied its emotional impact one iota. Calum Scott, on the other hand, finds himself in the reverse situation. The balladeer makes a rare trip to the dance floor as one of the featured artists on Naughty Boy’s extremely catchy “Undo.”
As usual, some of the week’s best pop comes from the UK. Every song from MARINA’s LOVE + FEAR has been better than the last, a trend that continues with the release of “Orange Trees.” A gorgeous serving of blissful electro, it’s hard to believe that this loved-up pop-poem came from the same woman that gave us the wonderfully miserable Family Jewels. SHELLS is another Brit with a knack for sparse, dreamy pop. She first popped up on my radar with “Gold” way back in 2016 and hasn’t put a foot wrong since. As “Heart Beating” attests.
In the mood for some Euro-pop? Iceland’s Glowie (real name Sara Pétursdóttir) made quite the first impression with the Julia Michaels-penned “Body” in 2018. She now returns with the equally great “Cruel,” a quirky pop anthem with an important anti-bullying message. It confirms the 21-year-old’s status as One To Watch. ILIRA is another pop star on the rise. The Swiss-born, German-based newcomer landed a streaming hit with a feature on Alle Farben’s “Fading” and could have one of her own with “Do It Yourself” — a sassy banger about self-pleasure.
Next up is a pair of consistently great duos. Loote regularly blesses New Music Friday with perfect pop like “High Without Your Love,” “Your Side Of The Bed” and “Out Of My Head.” Their hot streak continues with “85%,” a mid-tempo breakup anthem featuring gnash. While Emma and Jackson switch it up with something approaching a ballad, Sofi Tukker refuses to lower the BPM. However, the electro-pop duo do reign it in somewhat on “Fantasy.” This dreamy banger stands out as their most commercial and radio-friendly release to date.
How about a couple of alternative, pop-adjacent anthems? We already know that Fitz And The Tantrums can deliver a hook-filled, crossover hit thanks to gems like “The Walker” and “HandClap.” They could have another one of their hands with the euphoric, instantly addictive “123456.” Foster The People explore a similar space between pop, alt and rock on “Style.” While the band has never recaptured the sing-along, genre-breaching magic of “Pumped Up Kicks,” they continue to boldly try new things. And when the risk pays off, as it does in this situation, the reward is huge.
While we’re on the topic of experimental alt-icons, it would be remiss of me not to include Tame Impala’s new single in The Drop. From dreamy psychedelia to country-pop (or whatever Lady Gaga’s Joanne falls under), Kevin Parker can literally do it all. So it should come as much of surprise that he dabbles in disco with breathtaking results on “Patience.” SYML also refuses to be caged by genre. Whether he’s going viral with sparse ballads or dropping weird and wonderful electro, everything he does turns to gold. A state of affairs that continues with “Wildfire.”
Let’s wind up with a couple of bangers. Jonas Blue has one of the best track records in EDM. The UK producer churns out flawless bangers seemingly at will. His latest contribution to New Music Friday is no exception. Featuring Danish pop star Theresa Rex, “That’s What I Like About You” is his catchiest single since “Rise.” Another producer on the rise is Lithuania’s Dynoro. The 19-year-old’s debut single, “In My Mind,” was a global hit — racking up more than 500 million streams on Spotify. He could have similarly success with the Ina Wroldsen-assisted “Obsessed.” Check it out in my playlist below.