The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Feat. Phoebe Ryan & Bantu
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 Lana Del Rey’s blissful cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” and possibly bopped along to Halsey’s “Nightmare.” But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a couple of must-hear collaborations. Mark Ronson’s Late Night Feelings (due June 21) is shaping up to be one of the best albums of 2019, such is the quality of the title track and “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart.” The UK producer’s hot streak now continues with the sad disco of “Don’t Leave Me Lonely” featuring the golden vocals of YEBBA. Charli XCX and Lizzo convey late night feelings of a very different kind on their rollicking banger, “Blame It On Your Love.” This could be a big song for both of them.
Next up is the ever-brilliant Phoebe Ryan. Fresh from documenting her chaotic love life on James, the singer/songwriter returns with a wonderfully gloomy ditty called “A Thousand Ways.” It showcases her uncanny knack for melody and mean pen-game, and probably sounds (even more) amazing when you’re really going through it. Elle Winter, an actress turned pop star, is in a better frame of mind on her new single, “Sick Of You.” This is a cute little bop about the rush of new love. She’s definitely One To Watch.
While we’re on the topic of rising pop stars, it should be noted that Madison Beer blessed New Music Friday with a moody anthem called “Dear Society.” The first taste of the 20-year-old’s debut LP rails against the constant pressure to be perfect. It displays both the emotional honesty and fire that made “Dead” and “Hurts Like Hell” viral hits. Loren Gray is still at the very beginning of her artist journey, but she has already reinvented herself as a club queen. Featuring Saweetie, “Can’t Do It” is easily the social media sensation’s best single to date.
As usual, some of the week’s best pop comes from Sweden. Janice has previously appeared on The Drop with “Don’t Need To,” but she takes it to the next level on the attitude-filled, vaguely menacing “Hearts Will Bleed.” This is a reminder to keep your opinions to yourself, particularly when it comes to other people’s relationships. Laleh, on the other hand, needs no introduction. When she’s not penning perfect pop songs for other artists, she dropping her own. The singer/songwriter documents her love/hate relationship with LA on the typically-excellent “City Of Angels.”
How about some bangers to usher in the weekend? Bantu has been on my radar since dropping “Holiday” way back in 2016. Since then the artist/producer has perfected his blend of pop, R&B and African rhythms on a killer EP and collaborations with artists as diverse as Jonas Blue, Dr. Chaii and Nicki Minaj. The Zimbabwe hitmaker now joins forces with Alicai Harley for a summer smash called “Which One.” Equally uplifting (in its own messy way) is Slayyyter’s “Daddy AF” — a trap-infused banger about banging models.
Slayyyter might be pop’s new enfant terrible, but she has a long way to go until she pisses off as many people as Madonna. The Queen of Pop is still stirring the pot by doing whatever the fuck she likes. Exhibit A is “Future,” the 60-year-old’s dancehall-tinged banger featuring Quavo. In addition to dabbling in the sounds of Caribbean, she also returns to reggaeton on “Soltera.” The highlight of Maluma’s just-released 11:11 LP finds Madonna celebrating her independence and putting a man in his place. It’s well worth a listen.
While New Music Friday was dominated by female artists, a couple of fellas made their presence felt. Adam Lambert returned earlier in the week with the lead single from his 4th LP, Velvet. “New Eyes” finds the 37-year-old experimenting with a ’70s rock sound that suits him surprisingly well. It looks like his side-gig as Queen’s frontman has helped him find his true calling. Lauv, however, remains very much in the here and now on a blistering remix of “Drugs & The Internet” courtesy of Chvrches.
How about a little couple of rising stars? Why Don’t We continues to go from strength to strength as they refine their sound. The boy band follows up the Macklemore-assisted “I Don’t Belong In This Club” with a pure-pop anthem called “Unbelievable.” If radio plays along, this could be big. The same goes for AJ Mitchell’s new single. Like Why Don’t We, the 18-year-old leveraged a massive social media following into a record deal. And just like them, he is proving to be a formidable pop force with singles like “Talk So Much.” Keep an eye on him.
Nostalgia runs riot on our next couple of songs. OneRepublic took a year to followup up 2018’s (underrated) “Connection,” but it was worth the wait. “Rescue Me” finds Ryan Tedder & Co. dabbling in electronica to devastatingly catchy effect. This is the band’s most instant single since “Counting Stars.” Midnight Kids strike a similar chord, at least emotionally, on “Those Were The Days.” Voiced by Jared Lee, this is a soaring, ’80s referencing banger with significant crossover appeal. Don’t be surprised if this takes off on Spotify.
Let’s wind up with a little mood-lifting electronica. Passion Pit makes a very welcome return to New Music Friday with the euphoric “I Found U.” A collaboration with the ever-amazing Galantis, this is a massive tune about living your truth and the impact a kindred spirit can have on your life. Bag Raiders also have an uplifting anthem on their hands. The duo will forever be linked with “Shooting Stars,” but there’s so much more to them than that as the fuzzy, multi-layered electro of “Wild At Heart” attests. Check it out in my playlist below.