The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring CYN, Yuna & MAX
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 Jonas Brothers’ iTunes-conquering “Cool” and possibly bopped along to BLACKPINK’s YouTube-destroying “Kill This Love.” (It racked up 49.85 million views in the first 24 hours!) But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a couple of literal icons. Jennifer Lopez is the busiest woman in show business with multiple TV shows, an A-list movie career and a reputation of the Queen of Bops. The flawless 49-year-old dropped another one this week, and “Medicine” is a throwback to the percussion-heavy goodness of “Get Right.” Needless to say, it’s essential listening. Sarah Connor also blessed New Music Friday with a soaring, new pop anthem. The German superstar, who landed a surprise US hit with 2003’s “Bounce,” is back with “Vincent.” The song is tackles the emotional whirlwind of coming out and is dedicated to LGBTQ youth.
How about some young blood? I’ve loved every song CYN has released since being signed to Katy Perry’s Unsub Records. The newcomer has proven equally adept at stripped-back ballads (“I’ll Still Have Me”) and dreamy synth-pop (“Believer” and “Alright”). You can now add mastery of guitar-driven alt-pop to her resume courtesy of “Terrible Ideas.” 16-year-old Loren Gray is still at the very beginning of her pop journey, but she just gets better with each new release. “Options,” one of two new singles, is a feisty earworm that promises big things for her debut EP.
As usual, some of the week’s best pop comes from Scandinavia. Norway’s AURORA continues to march to the beat of her drum on “The Seed,” a weird and wonderful, multi-layered cut from her upcoming A Different Kind of Human (Step II). This is a heady mix of poetry and electronica that worms its way into your head a little more with each listen. Sweden’s EMMA WALL takes a less demented approach to pop on “Bittersweet.” She caught my attention with last year’s “BOY,” but this is even catchier and has distinct global appeal.
The Aussies also had a great week. Jack Gray is being hailed as the next Dean Lewis, which is actually rather unfair given that his music is decidedly more alt and adventurous. (But every bit as emotionally engaging). The 20-year-old brightens up New Music Friday with the atmospheric “Take Our Time,” which begins quietly over tinkling piano keys before the dreamy synths kick in. Speaking of synths, Brisbane’s Hatchie has been doing magical things with them since dropping her Sugar & Spice EP in 2018. She’s now rolling out her debut LP and, if “Stay With Me,” is any indication, Keepsake is going to be one of the best albums of the year.
Next up is a pair of rudely slept-on artists. Malaysia’s Yuna creatures the kind of blissful, honey-dipped R&B that would make Sade jealous, but is yet to crossover from blog darling to chart force. Hopefully, that long-overdue transition will happen with “Forevermore,” a gorgeous ode to her hometown and idyllic childhood. Snoh Aalegra is another soulful chanteuse with a killer discography and stellar reputation within the R&B community. “You,” a velvety tune about unconditional love, is proof that she’s destined for much bigger things.
Need a boost of serotonin? Two of pop’s gloomiest singer/songwriters (I say that with love) find themselves in an unusually good mood this week. Wrabel launches his Big Gay Records label with an upbeat, funk-laced bop called “love to love u.” As much as I love his miserable fare, this is an undeniable earworm. The same applies to Tom Odell’s sun-dappled, loved-up “Summer Day.” This is very far removed from the doom and despair of “Another Love,” but, then again, it is taken from the soundtrack from upcoming animated series Moomin Valley.
Equally upbeat is Steve James’ “Fall For You.” The 20-year-old first burst on to the scene with a string of impressive production credits (Justin Bieber’s “Purpose” and Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexha’s “In The Name Of Love,” to name a couple) and then launched an artist project of his own. After an extended break to find his sound, the Johnstown, PA native is back and better than ever. MAX, on the other hand, hasn’t come up for air since “Lights Down Low” exploded. He teams up with Quinn XCII on the instantly catchy (and decidedly relatable) “Love Me Less.”
How about some mellow, summer vibes? Mysterious indie-pop project ilo ilo made waves in 2018 with viral singles like “wait,” “come over” and “let me go,” and the buzz is only going to grow as they continue to unleash chill bops like “current.” Play this while sipping a cocktail by the pool. Parachute’s “Ocean” is not quite as relaxed, but it has a distinctly summery vibe. The Charlottesville, Virginia pop/rockers know their way around a catchy chorus and that’s on full display on what is hopefully the first taste of their 5th LP.
Let’s wind up with two of my favorite alt-pop artists. Weyes Blood’s Front Row Seat To Earth was one of my favorite albums of 2016 and it looks like the just-release Titanic Rising might be one of my faves of 2019 if album opener, “Something To Believe,” is any indication. This is dreamy, widescreen, Carpenters-evoking bliss. Matt Maeson, on the other hand, is really going through it on the nihilistic “I Just Don’t Care That Much.” His Bank On The Funeral LP was also released today and I can’t wait to get stuck into it. In the meantime, check out Matt’s wildly depressing anthem in my playlist below.