No. 1: "Bad Liar" by Selena Gomez
Eventually, everything underground seems to find its way to the mainstream. Next up: "Psycho Killer." The Talking Heads classic—and arguably the NYC post-punk band's most iconic tune—is poised to take over the airwaves this summer thanks to Selena Gomez's sampling of it in her new single, "Bad Liar." This taste of stripped-down minimalist pop is a pivot from Gomez's typically EDM-heavy style, but the pairing of the classic Talking Heads bass line and the witty lyrics makes a great fit for the seasoned pop star.
No. 2: "Strip That Down" by Liam Payne ft. Quavo
This is the year of the One Direction solo projects. Zayn remade himself into an alt-R&B heartthrob, Niall picked up an acoustic guitar, Harry Styles is trying to save modern rock, and Liam just wants to have fun. And for Liam, "fun" means a song rich with echoes of DJ Mustard's signature minimalist sound, and the awkward flirtiness of Ed Sheeran, one of the song's co-writers. It's an odd combo, but Quavo's guest verse makes for an endearing if strange mix.
No. 3: "Crying in the Club" by Camila Cabello
Camila Cabello, the former Fifth Harmony singer, continues to forge her solo career with her latest single, "Crying in the Club." The song almost feels like a throwback to the late 2000s, when songs like Flo Rida's "Club Can't Handle Me" dominated the airwaves and the central mission of the music was to inspire nightclub dreams. The production recalls the work of both Benny Blanco and David Guetta, so hopefully you'll be able to wipe away your bottle services tears and just enjoy the track.
No. 4: "Looking for a Star" by XXXtentacion
South Florida artist XXXtentacion is at the center of the rap world right now, and "Looking for a Star" finds him angling to take on the pop world at the same time. While known for his aggressive and explicit raps, the Diplo-produced "Looking for a Star"—with its woozy synths and heavy use of auto-tune—shows another side to the singer as he explores the many conflicting emotions of teenage love.
No. 5: "Big Fish" by Vince Staples
Outside of the recording booth, Vince Staples remains one of the funniest musicians of his generation. On the mic, however, there is little humor or joy to his presence, one that is prone to self-examination. "Big Fish," the Long Beach rapper's latest song, fits the bill, as he catalogs the ins and outs of street life over a chest-rattling track. So while he can be the class clown when he feels like it, few MCs out there are able to touch his depth on record.
No. 6: "OK" by Robin Schulz ft. James Blunt
Robin Schulz didn't create trop house—one simply can't take credit for creating an entire vibe—but he was the first to find mainstream success with the deep house offshoot. His numerous remixes that climbed up the pop charts were perfect soundtracks for watching waves crashing on a beach, and that's exactly the mood he recreated on his latest single, "OK." The song builds up to an emotional march, but by the song's end, you're more likely to find yourself relaxing in the sand than inciting a mosh pit.
No. 7: "Unravel Me" by Sabrina Claudio
Traditional R&B in the 2010s appears to still be finding itself, as singers like Sabrina Claudio bring a new vibe rather than simply offering up the traditional fare expected of the genre. "Unravel Me" fits perfectly into the alt-R&B framework, as Claudio's voice trembles and echoes on top of fragile production that appears to be constantly unraveling. It's R&B that feels more at home in a coffee shop than a bedroom.
No. 8: "YSL" by Gunna ft. Playboi Carti
With the success of songs like "Magnolia," "Lookin'," and "Woke Up Like This," Playboi Carti and Pierre Bone have become the go-to rapper-producer duo of late. "YSL," by up-and-coming rapper Gunna, is a great addition to Carti and Pierre's collaborative, ad-lib-heavy canon. And while Gunna might not stand out on this track, getting caught up in the Carti wave isn't a bad place for a young MC to be.
No. 9: "Castle on the Hill (Seeb Remix)" by Ed Sheeran
Over the last couple of years, the Norwegian duo Seeb has become well-known for their hugely popular reworks of pop songs by the likes of Coldplay and Mike Posner. Their remixes typically transform the original source material into mellow danceable house, but their version of "Castle on the Hill" takes the slow-building ballad and transforms it into a thundering EDM banger.
No. 10: "Told Him" by Lenis
The rotary phone on the cover of this single seems like a nod to the inherently nostalgic nature of a song that attempts to both soak up and reject the tropes of R&B past. Lenis's vocal styling feels wide-eyed—even if lyrically there is a skepticism towards those making romantic advances—but the production bops in a way that feels almost a bit reminiscent of UK funky, the late 2000s British genre that also enjoyed experimenting with traditional R&B.
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