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!
By now, you've probably given a listen to Selena Gomez's "Feel Me," finally released after she debuted it live all the way back in 2016 on her Revival Tour. Maybe you've also checked out the sultry title track of The Weeknd's forthcoming album After Hours and given Dwyane Wade's rap debut on Rick Ross' "Season Ticket Holder" the once-over. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
As always, we've listened to (nearly) everything this New Music Friday has to offer and returned with the tracks that stood out among all the rest. What follows are our picks for the best of this week's best. You're welcome.
BTS — "Louder than bombs": There's a lot to love on BTS' new album Map of the Soul: 7, from the triumphant horns on J-Hope's previously-released "Outro: Ego" and the powerfully percussive "ON," a lyrical diary of the band's past seven years that landed an assist from the UCLA marching band, but we keep coming back to this brooding track co-written by Troye Sivan, Allie X and Leland. The mid-tempo anthem deserves a video as hypnotic as the track.
Tainy with Lauren Jauregui & C. Tangana — "NADA": Lauren is coming. Just weeks after her excellent contribution to the Birds of Prey soundtrack, she's teamed with the Puerto Rican super-producer for this slinky bilingual steamer that lets her smoky vocals shine alongside the smooth flow of the Spanish rapper she shares top billing with. Now bring on the debut album!
Alanis Morrissette — "Smiling": On this, the latest single from her upcoming album Such Pretty Forks in the Road, the iconic singer delivers a ballad for the bottom dwellers out there—her word, not ours—grinning through their despair. Originally written for Jagged Little Pill, the stage adaptation based on her album of the same name, the track is appropriately theatrical and heartbreaking, a portrait of a life careening out of control despite all outward appearances.
CHIKA — "INDUSTRY GAMES": Ever since the up-and-coming MC absolutely eviscerated Kanye West over his recent political posturing with a freestyle delivered over his own iconic "Jesus Walks" beat back in 2018, she's been on our radar. And this hard-hitting track from her forthcoming EP of the same name, on which she takes aim at the hissing snakes in the record industry, proves she's the real deal.
Isaac Dunbar — "makeup drawer": On the latest release off his forthcoming major-label EP Isaac's Insects, the 16-year-old up-and-comer, recently featured on our list of the 15 next-gen pop players you need to know, delivers a fierce takedown of homophobia, internal or otherwise. "I wrote 'Makeup Drawer' nearly two years ago, when I was 14 and just learning about my sexuality," he told PAPER. "I was fighting an inner battle, trying to learn how to love and accept myself despite a lack of support by some members of my family. I made a deal with myself: I would wait until I loved myself fully to release the song." We're so glad that time is now. And the lewks served in the accompanying video? He turned. it. out.
Allie X — "Super Duper Party People": There isn't one false step on Cape God, the second studio album from the Canadian singer born Alexandra Ashley Hughes, but this track, born of a joking title suggestion from her boyfriend, is such a damn vibe. Let it be your entry point for an album that demands your attention.
Lauv — "Modern Loneliness": On the latest release from his forthcoming debut album ~how i'm feeling~, our prince of the sad banger delivers a all-too-relatable anthem about the isolation we're all feeling these days despite the fact that we've never been as superficially connected to one another as we are now. "Modern loneliness/We're never alone, but always depressed, yeah/Love my friends to death/But I never call and I never text 'em," he sings in the track's soaring chorus. "La-di-da-di-da/Yeah, you get what you give and you give what you get, so/Modern loneliness/We love to get high, but we don't know how to come down."
Giveon — "HEARTBREAK ANNIVERSARY": This track from the rising R&B star is simply stunning. From his silky vocal to the stirring production, the song heralds the arrival of a true force to be reckoned with. Be warned: It will have you all the way in your feelings.
Oliver Malcolm — "Switched Up": After cutting his teeth producing for the likes of AlunaGeorge and Tinashe, the Swedish-born Brit is stepping into the spotlight with this remarkable debut single. Credited as the track's sole writer and producer, Oliver puts his dexterous vocal, a hybrid of rap and R&B, on full display over a gripping production centered around the looped strum of an acoustic guitar and some slick chopped-up beats. It's the sort of debut most only dream of. We can't wait to hear more.
Becky and the Birds — "Do U Miss Me": The Swedish artist born Thea Gustafsson returns with this stirring track that finds her addressing an ex the way one might late at night and after one too many cocktails. Slipping in and out of vocal modulation over a hazy and sparse production, the song is stark in its intimacy and worth getting absolutely lost in. Maybe lock your phone up beforehand, though. Just to keep yourself from doing anything you might regret...
Afrojack feat. Ally Brooke — "All Night": The former Fifth Harmony star teams up with the iconic Dutch DJ and producer for this absolute banger that'll likely be filling dance floors everywhere in no time.
Jimmie Allen feat. Noah Cyrus — "This Is Us": Miley's little sis leans into her family's country roots on this romantic track from onetime American Idol contestant, and she sounds right at home.
Greyson Chance — "Dancing Next To Me": On this lead single off his upcoming album, the queer artist leans into a new synth-pop sound that suits his sultry vocals to a T. The kid we first met on Ellen all those years ago is a man now, and we are here for the glow up.
Glass Animals — "Your Love (Déjà Vu)": The first single of 2020 from the British band is irresistibly funky, with frontman Dave Bayley doing the damn thing over a skittering trip-hop beat that calls back to the mid-2000s vibes Timbaland and the Neptunes put on the map.
Elohim — "Group Therapy": Before kicking off her tour of the same name, the mysterious synth-pop singer delivers what sounds like an extremely catchy mission statement for her string of shows. "I just need to mingle with some people/Who are just as weird as me," she sings in the chorus. "I'm in the mood for group therapy."