The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Bene & AURORA
Fridays can be overwhelming for pop fans. Every week you are 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 Madonna and Swae Lee’s sexy, hip-hop/pop hybrid “Crave” and hopefully bopped along to Meghan Trainor’s perky “Badass Woman.” But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a couple of ’80s-referencing synth-pop songs. Ingrid Michaelson is best known for her singer/songwriter fare, but she swaps her acoustic guitar for retro electronica on the nostalgic “Missing You.” It’s the first single from the 39-year-old’s Stranger Songs LP — a concept album inspired by Netflix phenomenon Stranger Things. Carly Rae Jepsen, on the other hand, frequently travels to the ’80s on her shiny dance-pop bops. “Too Much,” a standout on her imminent Dedicated LP, is yet another finely-wrought gem.
Speaking of prolific and consistently great pop stars, Kim Petras blesses New Music Friday with her weekly masterpiece. When it comes to the German diva’s oeuvre, it’s hard to pick favorites because they’re all so good. However, “Blow It All,” an instantly catchy banger about living life in the moment, has to rank somewhere near the top. Dinah Jane is still at the very start of her solo journey, but she is already putting together a killer discography. Sultry R&B anthem “Retrograde” could be a career-changing song for her.
As usual, some of the week’s best new pop comes from Scandinavia. Norway’s girl in red is already something of a regular on The Drop. She follows up the great (and intensely relatable) “i need to be alone” with another gloriously morose pop ditty called “Dead Girl In The Pool.” I can’t wait for her album. AURORA exhibits a lighter touch on “The River.” The Norwegian specializes in oddball forest-pop and “The River” might be the most enchanting example of it since she broke internationally in 2015 with “Running with the Wolves.” She is so special.
The Southern hemisphere is also well represented in this week’s New Music Friday lineup. CXLOE has already generated serious buzz with “Show You” and (my favorite) “I Can’t Have Nice Things.” The Aussie pop star keeps her winning streak alive with the deceptively biting “Low Blow” — a bop about the dark side of the music industry. New Zealand’s Bene is also officially One To Watch thanks to the breakout success of “Soaked.” Her new single is even better. “Evil Spider” is a wonderfully subtle pop song about wanting someone who is already taken.
While we’re on the topic of breakout stars, it would be remiss of me not to mention that Grace Carter has blessed New Music Friday with a new single. “Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” showcases the Brit’s rich vibrato and devastating pen game. You can feel her pain and (understandable) bitterness as she sings about the emotional scars inflicted by an ex. Another artist that needs to be on your radar is Lola Kirke. Best known for her roles in Mistress America and Mozart In The Jungle, the singer/actress surprises on the lovely, alt-pop ditty “Omens.” I really need to dive into her 2016 and 2018 EPs.
Female artists dominated this week’s New Music Friday, but a couple of dudes made a big impression. After making a name for himself with rollicking rock songs like “Fire” and “99,” Barns Courtney is switching it up on his sophomore set. 404 (out September 6) finds the Brit introducing synths into mix — an experiment that works exceedingly well if the stomping “You & I” is any indication. Juke Ross, however, sticks with his guitar on “Burned By The Love.” This soulful, beautifully-constructed tune signals the singer/songwriter as one of 2019’s potential breakout stars.
Next up is a couple of fellas that have a habit of wearing their heart on their sleeve. James Arthur struck gold with 2016’s “Say You Won’t Let Go” and he could have another global hit on his hands with “Falling Like The Stars.” This acoustic love song puts his soulful pipes to good use and the lyrics are suitably warm and gooey. Australia’s Jackson Dyer, on the other hand, sings about moving on and the power of change on “Paper Lanterns.” His music falls on the indie end of the pop spectrum, but his fuzzy, DIY approach and emotional honesty makes it very accessible.
How about a couple of bangers? R3HAB is arguably the most consistent man in EDM. The Dutch DJ rolls out club anthems and remixes at an alarming rate, and they’re always good. Happily, “Don’t Give Up On Me Now” is no exception. A collaboration with Norwegian pop star Julie Bergan, this is big-room vocal house at its best. The same goes for Sam Feldt’s “Magnets.” He teams up with Sophie Simmons for a loved-up banger that incorporates horns inspired by the DJ/producer’s live shows. It works brilliantly, lending the song a warm, organic quality.
If you prefer you electronica to have a slightly darker, alt-vibe, may I recommend SG Lewis’ “Flames.” The UK producer joins forces with Ruel for his best single to date. This finds the sweet spot between dance, pop and indie — incorporating weird bleeps and beep around the Aussie soulful vocal. Le Youth works similar magic on “Selfish.” This banger goes from zero to 100 in the blink of an eye and is an essential addition to any party playlist. Check it out in my playlist below.