No. 1: "Colombia Heights" by Wale ft. J. Balvin
Last year, Colombian Reggaeton star J. Balvin made his first inroads into the American pop world. He didn't attempt to dilute his sound for an American audience, but instead found success with "Safari," on which Pharrell sung in Spanish—showing that the legendary musician already understood Balvin's influence on the global pop world. The same vibe is maintained on "Colombia Heights," where Wale, a D.C. rapper unafraid of genre clashing, picks up a little Spanish for the song, too.
No. 2: "Somethin Tells Me" by Bryson Tiller
Bryson Tiller announced his sophomore album, True to Self, with the release of three singles. "Somethin Tells Me" is the clear highlight, as the singer navigates the familiar ground of attempting to understand a relationship gone wrong, and whether or not it might just be best for him to cut his losses.
No. 3: "Static Somewhere" by Girlpool
The Los Angeles-by-way-of-Philadelphia duo Girlpool has garnered a good deal of attention for the earnest songs about friendship, and the never-ending struggle to find the right footing in the world. "Static Somewhere," from their latest album, Powerplant, leans on a heavy, distorted crunch and sees the band offering their own quaint observations on early adulthood.
No. 4: "Malibu" by Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus returns with a new outlook on life—or perhaps one she's been building up to for most of her career. The former child star has been all over the map, musically, having dipped her toe in straight-up pop stardom ("Party In The USA"), rap culture ("We Can't Be Stopped"), and even partnered with the Flaming Lips for a full album (Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz). "Malibu" retreats from those previous extremes, and instead finds a calmer Miley luxuriating in an escapist beachside jam that, to Cyrus's credit, doesn't feel like just another pose.
No. 5: "Our Destiny / Roadhouse Garden" by Prince
The music world is still feeling the loss of the legendary popstar Prince. "Our Destiny/Roadhouse Garden" was a pair of unreleased tracks from the mid-80s, and if you're unfamiliar with Prince's work, then these songs show just how much of the signature '80s sound—the synths, the vocal inflections, the production—can all be traced back to Prince. But for his old fans, this is an exciting preview of what is to come from the eventual flood of unreleased music from the legend's purportedly massive archive.
No. 6: "Pipe Down" by LouGotCash ft. Remy Boy Monty
Even for a genre that is four decades old, New York City rappers will always be compared to ghosts of the past. LouGotCash, a teenager from Jamaica, Queens, doesn't let that seep into his music, as "Pipe Down" is the kind of post-regional melodic rap that could just as easily come out of Atlanta, Chicago, or even Toronto. The hook is impossible to miss, and though the NYC spotlight can burn bright on young artists, LouGotCash appears ready for the increased amount of attention headed in his direction.
No. 7: "Pequod" by Sunny Lax
Hungarian producer Sunny Lax takes a straightforward path on his latest single, "Pequod." Trance songs often distinguish themselves through the rise and fall dynamic that is, in essence, an instructional handbook to let the crowd know how to move. "Pequod" skips that entire dynamic by starting out at peak levels of intensity, giving the song a heightened sense of immediacy.
No. 8: "Falling Ashes" by Slowdive
After two decades away, legendary Berkshire shoegaze act Slowdive returns with a new self-titled album that is sure to pull in a new generation of fans. "Falling Ashes," the album's somber closer, begins with a beautiful piano introduction that goes on to carry the song, as the band deviates from the lush guitar tones that carry much of the album for a considered rumination on love.
No. 9: "Dopeman" by HoodRich Pablo Juan
On "Dopeman," up-and-coming Atlanta rapper Hoodrich Pablo Juan recalls the city's signature late 2000s sound, nodding to a bygone era before Future had partnered with Drake, and Gucci Mane's primary collaborator was still OJ Da Juiceman. The production he chooses here is almost jovial compared to his lyrics about drug dealing, but that juxtaposition of melodic beats and crime tales was the old norm, and just might become the norm once again.
No. 10: "All Love" by Hundaes
On "All Love", the New Zealand-based producer Hundaes doesn't waste a single second. A hurried series of arpeggiated notes rings out over swelling orchestral sounds, then softly drops into a whistle-inspired melody. The rest of the song then happily jumps between various musical reference points until its swells into one, massive warm burst of sound.
Find us on Spotify @wearesweet!