No. 1: "Out Worn" by Soccer Mommy
Soccer Mommy—aka Sophie Allison, who is still in college studying to get her degree in Music Business—got a bit of attention last year for a couple of projects she posted on Bandcamp. She wound up finding her way onto an Orchid Tapes compilation, and is now putting out a full album of her own on indie juggernaut Fat Possum. "Out Worn" brings the same self-aware diary lyrics found in her earlier work: She's great at observing the small details of life and relationships that other songwriters might simply gloss over.
No. 2: "Butterfly Effect" by Travis Scott
Travis Scott loves to create worlds. Last year's Birds in the Trap Sing Brian McKnight saw the rapper pulling everyone from Andre 3000 to Bryson Tiller into his twisted universe, but "Butterfly Effect" provides a bit of respite from his typically bleak output—though the song still features the ghostly auto-tuned vocals that make a line like "Icey like a hockey puck" sound almost ghoulish.
No. 3: "A Wall" by Downtown Boys
Downtown Boys is a Providence punk band that is often eager to write songs about any number of topics related to the injustices they see in the world around them. "A Wall" quite directly addresses the racist and ridiculous proposal by President Trump to build a wall across the border between Mexico and the U.S. As Victoria Ruiz opens the song: "How much is enough? / Who makes that call?"
No. 4: "Mask Off (Remix)" by Future ft. Kendrick Lamar
Thanks to the ever-growing popularity of the #maskoffchallenge, Future's "Mask Off" rapidly transformed from a deep album cut into a Top 10 hit. The speed with which the song found an audience inspired an effort to sustain that success—thus, the arrival of Kendrick Lamar on the remix. The Compton rapper, who just put out the beloved Damn earlier this year, appears to be relishing his recent success and laughing at those who were doubting his position in the rap world just a few months ago.
No. 5: "There For You" by Martin Garrix ft. Troye Sivan
Martin Garrix was a still a teenager when he found international success with his song "Animals." He's been running the festival circuit ever since, and found yet another crossover pop hit last year with "In the Name of Love," his single featuring Bebe Rexha. "There for You" features fellow wunderkind Troye Sivan, and with its romantic innocence and warm future bass bounce, it looks to be a direct sequel to last year's smash.
No. 6: "We Might Fall" by Ghastly & Matthew Koma
Subtlety is something that producer Ghastly rarely employs. And with its epic vocal performance by Matthew Koma, "We Might Fall" is true to form. The chorus crescendoes into a thrilling electronic drop that promptly consumes the entire song, creating a slight lull before the song builds up for one last, titanic drop.
No. 7: "Get Lost" by Washed Out
Washed Out, the solo project of Ernest Greene, started off as a post-J Dilla beats project, but slowly transformed into a blissed-out new wave sound. Dubbed Chillwave in the late 2000s, many of the artists within the genre eventually moved into more synthpop terrain (Neon Indian) or funk (Toro Y Moi). "Get Lost," Washed Out's first song in 4 years, appears to find him pivoting towards house music, as this is by far his most dancefloor-ready track yet.
No. 8: "Welcome To LA" by Oliver Tree
If New York City got the wide-eyed anthem a few years ago from Taylor Swift, then Los Angeles is now getting the same treatment on Oliver Tree's "Welcome To LA." The teenage singer takes on a rapper's inflection as he makes humorous observations about Hollywood's materialistic culture, all to the accompaniment of playful jazz horns.
No. 9: "Lane Changing" by SOB x RBE
The sound of Bay Area rap is never stagnant, but "Lane Changing" by SOB x RBE is a classic California party record. It's the Bay Area spin on G-Funk, which means less obvious samples and more keyboards that sound like steel beams crashing towards the floor. Still, on the rapping side, SOB x RBE's heavily autotuned verses recall the teenage rapper Speaker Knockerz, but their slang and chemistry infuse the song with a style that's all their own.
No.10: "Stay With You" by Cheat Codes ft. CADE
On "Stay With You," Cheat Codes continue to show the influence of Justin Bieber in the world of big-tent EDM. On Purpose, the pop mega-star jumped into the world of EDM, working with producers like Skrillex and Diplo who gave him tropical house-influenced hits—and "Stay With You" rides that very wave. But here, Bieber's petulant persona is replaced with the more saccharine CADE, a singer who gives the song a Disney Channel-esque friendliness.
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