"The Cure" by Lady Gaga
For her 2016 album, Joanne, Lady Gaga turned to a country and roots-indebted sound, turning away from the electronic excess that had brought her pop mega-stardom. Now, Gaga's latest single finds her exploring territory somewhere between the ranch and an Ibiza rave: The mid-tempo pop song hits many familiar contemporary pop tropes, but at its core is the kind of love song she's spent nearly a decade perfecting.
"What I Want" by Cende
Cende—a band made up of members of the Brooklyn bands LVL UP and Porches—offer up a dose of earnest, heartfelt indie rock on "What I Want." The song twists and turns from a pop punk hook, into a crunchy breakdown, and then a series of restrained guitar solos. Fellow Brooklyn indie-rock mainstay Frankie Cosmos also shows up to give the song a surprising, but appealing, vocal lift.
"Your Glossy Camry" by Mary Lattimore
There is a gorgeous tranquility to Mary Lattimore's "Your Glossy Camry" that feels slightly at odds with a title that feels so stuck in suburbia. The Philadelphia harpist's latest release, Collected Pieces, assembles a number of her works from the last decade—and even for a collection that highlights the harp, "Your Glossy Camry" is an especially subdued track, but it is a beautiful dose of calm in an otherwise loud world.
"Hit You Back" by Lil Lonnie
Mississippi rapper Lil Lonnie takes a defiant tone on "Hit You Back," off his latest mixtape, Visions. The young rapper already sounds world-weary on the track, rapping "I don't even wanna talk / I ain't even trying to listen." He's too busy focusing on his grind towards success. Where many rappers bask in their accomplishments, Lil Lonnie is still working toward those better days.
"Lust For Life" by Lana Del Rey ft. The Weeknd
The Weeknd and Lana Del Rey remain one of the oddest pairings in the upper tier of pop music. When they first collaborated on the Weeknd's debut album both, were cult pop figures—but since then, The Weeknd's become a bona fide star and Lana Del Rey's following has only grown larger. Thankfully, the title track off Del Rey's upcoming album is just as moody and extravagant of an affair as one would expect of the duo.
"Lost In Your Light" by Dua Lipa ft. Miguel
Dua Lipa got her start as a teenager making YouTube cover videos, but with "Lost In Your Light" she is hoping to move to the next level. This powerful duet with Miguel should certainly help in that regard, as the British singer shines on this track, proving she's ready for the big stage.
"Hard Times" by Paramore
Paramore, one of the few traditional rock bands to survive the 2000s, has gone even more pop on their latest single, "Hard Times." Gone is the melodramatic angst of the previous singles, replaced now by a spry instrumentation that would be perfect for a 5 p.m. slot on MTV in 1985. Along with The 1975 and Carly Rae Jepsen, pop-adjacent acts appear to be finding the '80s to be a useful reference point for creating evergreen pop magic.
"Despacito (Remix)" by Luis Fonti ft. Daddy Yankee & Justin Bieber
Luis Fonti is no rookie to the music world. The Puerto Rican singer is nearly two decades into his career, but "Descapito" is now by far his most successful song. The dancehall track is so infectious that Justin Bieber recently hopped on the remix, along with Daddy Yankee, who appeared on the original song. The American pop star flirted with dancehall himself on his last album, Purpose, so "Despacito" shows once more how eager the singer is to look beyond the world of EDM.
"That's My Energy" by Smokepurrp
The newest wave of Soundcloud rappers are not what we have typically thought of as "rappers," choosing beats that sample old rock songs and preferring yelling and screaming over traditional rap. While a bit closer to classic rap side of things, Smokepurrp's "That's My Energy" still feels distinctly new. The song liberally repurposes Drake's "Energy" in the hook, but where that song showed Drake asserting his dominance and strength, Smokepurrp sounds weary, as if moving through a darkened haze.
"Spectrum" by Muzzy
There is no rush to the build-up on "Spectrum," the latest from the English producer Muzzy. The refrain of "let the shadows fade away" echoes as the song begins to build into a thunderous march. That crescendo and release is all made worthwhile when the song unfolds into a spacey drum-and-bass stomp that evokes the feeling of a raging, intergalactic battle.
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