The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Joji & Shura
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 Taylor Swift’s iTunes-conquering “You Need To Calm Down” and possibly checked out Little Mix’s sexy “Bounce Back.” But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with a couple of alt-pop favorites. Bat For Lashes joins the New Music Friday lineup with “Kids In The Dark,” the lead single from Lost Girls (due September 6). And if the dreamy, loved-up anthem is any indication, album number five is going to be another triumph. This is her best single since “Daniel.” Shura also returns from a lengthy hiatus with a staggeringly good single. “religion (u can lay your hands on me)” is a dose of pure euphoria, capturing the chemical rush of new love. Her sophomore LP, forevher, drops on August 16.
Japan’s Joji is similarly infatuated on “Sanctuary.” The breakout star, who cracked the Billboard Hot 100 with “Slow Dancing In The Dark,” opens his heart on a lo-fi ballad that exhibits his trademark blend of trap, electronica and R&B. It’s a heady mix. San Holo also operates in a space outside of genre. The Dutch producer makes his mark on New Music Friday with “Lost Lately,” a melancholy banger that arrives on a barrage of otherworldly beats. Alec Benjamin, on the other hand, takes a more traditional approach on “Must Have Been The Wind.” This is the breakout singer/songwriter’s most affecting single to date.
As usual, some of the week’s best new pop hails from Scandinavia. Earlier this week, Anna Of The North rolled out “Thank Me Later” and it’s a summery, soulful synth-pop delight. The Norwegian pop star shakes up the usual dating dynamics on the track by taking the lead and pursuing her man. Iceland’s Glowie is in a very different headspace on “I’m Good.” The highlight of the 22-year-old’s just-released Where I Belong EP is a feisty electro-pop anthem about moving on after a breakup. And then showing off in front of your ex. Meanwhile, Finnish pop star Lxandra blesses New Music Friday with a soaring piano ballad called “Swimming Pools.” She’s definitely One To Watch.
That description also applies to Germany’s BUNT.. The duo, who continues to find interesting ways to mash folk and house elements, introduce a little soul to the mix on the instantly catchy “Sure Don’t Miss You.” It’s a clever reworking of The Dip’s similarly-titled 2017 single. If you needed further proof that New Music Friday is truly international, BENEE flies the flag for New Zealand. The rising alt-pop singer (formerly known as BENE) won me over with the quirky “Evil Spider,” but this emotionally raw anthem is even better.
How about a couple of cross-cultural collaborations? K-Pop boy band Monsta X recently signed to Epic Records and they waste no time rolling out their major-label US debut single. Featuring French Montana, “Who Do You Love?” is an instantly catchy banger that evokes vintage Backstreet Boys and NYSNC. BTS wrote the handbook on K-Pop crossover hits and they will undoubtedly land another with the Zara Larsson-assisted “A Brand New Day.” As usual, it pushes the boundaries production-wise and delivers a massive chorus. However, I think I slightly prefer last week’s “Dream Glow.”
Next up is a double dose of country. Mason Ramsey went (super) viral as the yodeling boy in Walmart and rode his internet fame all the way to a record deal with Atlantic. The 12-year-old impressed with his debut EP, Famous, but he takes it to the next level on the absurdly cute, ruthlessly catchy “Twang.” This kid has a huge future. Speaking of rising superstars, Kelsea Ballerini made an appearance on NBC’s Songland and decided to record “Better Luck Next Time.” The acutely-observed breakup anthem finds the “This Feeling” hitmaker speaking home truths over a simple guitar arrangement.
Given that we’re smack, bang in the middle of Pride month, it would be remiss not to include a couple of gems from out artists. JHart is perhaps better known for his songwriting prowess (he has written hits for everyone from Camila Cabello to Keith Urban), but that’s about to change such is the quality of his own material. The multi-hyphenate now shows off his powerful pipes on a soaring ballad called “Temporary.” Carlos Vara is also going through it on “Impossible.” The “Confident” singer grapples with unrequited love on his latest raw and relatable single.
Let’s wind up with a couple of bangers. Alesso unleashes his first single of 2019 today and it’s an epic collaboration with Argentina’s TINI. Happily, “Sad Song” doesn’t live up to its title. The upbeat, summery production is destined to make this a club favorite as the weather heats up. The same goes for Kaskade’s “With You.” Meghan Trainor lends her voice to this bop, which exhibits her trademark feistiness and knack for writing pop hooks. Check out it out in my playlist below.