New music Fridays are a thrilling, yet daunting prospect for any music lover.
It's essentially a weekly holiday where fan-favorite artists and fresh faces alike drop their latest offerings for all the world to hear, flooding streaming services and digital retailers with an onslaught of aural goodies. But who has the time to sit there and listen to everything before updating their playlists? There's just too much good stuff! (And, if we're being honest, usually a few stinkers, too.)
As it turns out, we do. Welcome to The MixtapE!
We did it, you guys. We've made it through another week. As times continue to be tough, with all of us called upon to continue practicing the extreme social distancing necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, music remains a vital touchstone in keeping it connected while remaining separated. And that's what makes Fridays all the more special these days. If were going to have to stay inside, we might as well have an excellent soundtrack to keep us company.
And that's where we come in.
We've listened to (nearly) all of this week's new releases and, as always, returned with our picks for the best of the best. Enjoy.
Selena Gomez — "Boyfriend"
With the deluxe version of her incredible album Rare out today, Sel's gifted fans three new tracks. And while "She" and "Souvenir" are both bops in their own right, the clear star among the trio is this slinky track. With a throbbing bass line production courtesy of The Roommates that's reminiscent in all the right ways of Kanye West's "Fade" and a lyric, co-written with pals Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels, that finds our girl lamenting the dearth of good men out there, the song is a whole damn mood. "I want a boyfriend/Tell me, are there any good ones left?" she asks. "I keep finding wrong ones, but I want love/Again and again." We stan a relatable queen.
Twenty One Pilots — "Level of Concern"
The boys are back with their first new release since their 2018 album TRENCH, dropping a track written and recorded while in self-isolation amidst the global coronavirus pandemic. "Cause I told you my level of concern/But you walked by like you never heard," frontman Tyler Joseph sings on the remarkably relatable track. "You could bring down my level of concern/Just need you to tell me we're alright/Tell me we're okay." A portion of the song's proceeds will go to Crew Nation, a global relief fund for live music crews, which aims to help touring and venue crews affected by the global crisis.
Alesso feat. Liam Payne — "Midnight"
The legendary Swedish DJ and the former One Direction member have joined forces on this uplifting and romantic track with one hell of a beat drop. Seriously, the soaring triumph of the chorus is enough to make you forget about all your worries if even for just a few seconds. And despite being in self-isolation on different continents, the pair still managed to make a music video that features both in their element. "This is definitely one of the most unique videos I've ever made. We created it completely in quarantine with me at home in London and Alesso half way across the world in his house in LA," Liam tells E! News. "Being forced, by the circumstances, to make a much more stripped back video was actually really refreshing - it was great to get back to basics while creating something we're really proud of. Sending love to all our fans across the world."
"The performance video for 'Midnight' shows how Liam and I had to work together from across the world to create something authentic for our fans," Alesso adds. "So many other people are working from home just like us, so it only felt right to give them something real."
Isaac Dunbar — "colony"
We've been beating the Isaac Dunbar drum around these parts for a while now, and, now that his new EP isaac's insects has finally arrived, he's truly done us proud. And while much of the seven-song tracklist had already been released, there are three new tracks here to savor, each one of them more impressive than the last. Our favorite is this stunning and deeply evocative ballad that closes out the set that puts the full breadth of his considerable talents on full display. This kid is the real deal, you guys.
Leon Bridges feat. John Mayer — "Inside Friend"
This cozy little collab between Leon and John wasn't expressly written for our unique times, born instead out of an impromptu jam session last year, but it certainly takes on a whole new life now. "The concept for 'Inside Friend' came about from Mayer and I joking around in the studio about what an ideal date for an introvert or homebody like myself would be," Leon said in a statement announcing the track. "I tour most of the year, so I'd rather invite a gal over to lounge comfortably in the crib as opposed to go out somewhere crowded. 'Inside Friend' stayed on the back burner for a while because it didn't fit within the context of my third project, but the current state we're in globally compelled us to dig this back up and finish it. I hope people find it soothing and uplifting while we hole up indoors and get through this."
Charli XCX — "forever"
One of the first artists to announce an entirely new project to come out of quarantine, Charli has given us the first taste of her forthcoming album how i'm feeling now, due on May 15. Co-executive produced with frequent collaborators A.G. Cook and BJ Burton entirely through the internet, the track is full of romance and hope, proving that her unique future-pop sound can still be conveyed perfectly even under the strangest of circumstances.
Lennon Stella — "Fear of Being Alone"
On the latest taste of her long-awaited debut album Three. Two. One., due April 24, Lennon sings about what's keeping her clinging to a relationship that's probably past its expiration date. "I get the feeling it's not love that keeps us holding on," she sings in the pre-chorus before getting right to the point in the chorus. "It's the fear of, it's the fear of being alone/Got me staying when I know." Eminently danceable and suitably moody, it's another win for Lennon. We can't wait for the LP.
Washed Out — "Too Late"
Forget what the title says, the first new release from chillwave artist born Ernest Greene Jr. in two years couldn't have come at a better time. While the world feels as though it's spinning madly out of control, there's a sense of melancholic calm within the nearly five-minute track that is such a welcome respite. And the video, a crowdsourced effort comprised of video submissions from across the world, feels like a vacation, full of sunsets and beaches and beauty. Let this be your escape if even for just a few minutes.
Dove Cameron feat. BIA — "Remember Me"
After debuting her new single, featuring a slightly darker sound, during Global Citizen and the World Health Organization's #TogetherAtHome concert series, Dove has officially released the track. And, no surprise here, it's a winner. A moody exploration of her need to be remembered featuring a killer verse from a female MC on the rise, the song slays. "I'm so excited for my new single 'Remember Me' to finally be released!" she said in a statement. "I've been waiting for what feels like years to finally have this track and this new sound be out in the world and available to my fans, and I can't believe that day is today! I also couldn't be happier to be working with an artist like BIA, I'm such a fan and the tone and energy she brought to the track is magic."
Baauer — "PLANET'S MAD"
The man responsible for giving the world "Harlem Shake" returns with a hard-hitting new track that's perfect for turning up real loud when you're feeling your most frustrated these days. The title track from an LP due later this year, the song is a thundering colossus with a bass line guaranteed to make waves in your blood stream.
Gryffin & Chris Lane — "Hold You Tonight": The DJ and the country singer perfectly marry their two worlds on this wistful and incredibly romantic banger.
Alec Benjamin — "Six Feet Apart": The rising pop star might have you in tears with this beautiful ballad written during and expressly about our new normal, but sometimes a little catharsis is a good thing. A potent reminder that you're not the only one feeling it all right now.
Toni Braxton — "Do It": The iconic R&B songstress is back with this empowering track, her first new release since 2018, proving that those legendarily silky vocals haven't gone anywhere.
The Aces — "Lost Angeles": The indie-pop quartet score big with their latest release, a dreamy, if slightly bittersweet ode to Los Angeles, "the loneliest city I've ever known." Bring on the new album.
Christian Lalama — "Knocked Me Off My Feet": The Canadian pop up-and-comer is a bit lovesick on this slick new track, which may be bad news for him, but is great news for us.