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, there's no doubt you've given Katy Perry's romantic ballad "Never Worn White" and its baby bump-revealing music video the requisite attention such a moment deserves. And you're probably checked out Demi Lovato's triumphant return with the empowering "I Love Me," a potent reminder to treat yourself with the kindness you reserve for others.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg on this New Music Friday.
As always, we've scoured Spotify, listening to (nearly) everything new under the sun in the hopes of separating the slappers from the stinkers. What follows are our picks for this week's best of the best. You're welcome.
Megan Thee Stallion — "Captain Hook": After a wild week that's seen her take on her record label in court over their refusal to release any new material, she's come out victorious with the release of her excellent nine-track EP, Suga. On this early standout track, the rising MC proves yet again just why she's a force to be reckoned to be with. Her flow is absolute fire. Be prepared to never think about the song's namesake quite the same ever again.
Dixie Chicks — "Gaslighter": For their first single in over a decade, the iconic country trio linked up with uberproducer Jack Antonoff for a fiery country-pop anthem that finds frontwoman Natalie Maines putting her boot right on the neck of her ex-husband, actor Adrian Pasdar. It's a welcome return to form from the band who've never been afraid to speak their minds. If the forthcoming album of the same name, due May 1, lives up to the power of this excellent lead single, it very well could be one of the year's best LPs.
The Aces — "Daydream": HAIM may have a new LP of their own on the way, but this lead single from the all-female foursome out of Utah's highly-anticipated second studio album makes clear that there's a new contender for the sisters' throne. Between the ethereal harmonies and lead guitarist Katie Henderson's excellent licks, this is the band firing on all cylinders. It's one daydream we don't want to be shaken out of.
NCT 127 — "Kick It": The K-Pop boy band did not come to play on Neo Zone, their just-released second studio album. Between the heavy-hitting "Kick It" and "Sit Down!" and the smooth R&B-influenced "White Night" and "Not Alone," there's a lot to love here. But nothing gripped us as immediately as "Love Me Now." The effervescent EDM-inspired pop track is so bright and joyful, it's an easy contender for Song of Summer. Well done, boys.
Shoffy feat. Sabrina Carpenter — "Tricky": The former Disney princess teams up with the rising electronic artist for this excellent electro-pop bop all about that one person you can't let go of despite knowing full well you ought to. There's something so pleasant about the way their voices work off one another over a production that you're not likely to get out of your head any time soon.
Rina Sawayama — "XS": Rina's debut album Sawayama is shaping up to be something major. On this third taste of the LP, due April 17, the Japanese-born rising star satirizes our culture of excess in the face of the looming existential threat that is catastrophic climate change. Allowing the shocking jolt of metal guitars to punctuate the dreamy early-2000s pop/R&B production, she translates perfectly how those increasingly dire calls to action feel when they arrive to hopefully shake us out of our materialistic reverie. A pop princess with something important to say? We love to hear it.
Cyn — "Drinks": The upcoming Carey Mulligan-starring Promising Young Woman looks truly excellent. And if this spiky lead single from its soundtrack is any indication, the music from the film will be just as noteworthy. The serpentine beat the rising pop star signed to Katy Perry's Unsub imprint builds her song around is next-level. Coupled with the main hook ("He got mad/So I got drinks"), it makes for one killer track.
Mickey Guyton — "What Are You Gonna Tell Her?": This stunning ballad from the country singer is like a punch to the gut, tackling the injustice young women, people of color and kids from other marginalized communities with big dreams face in an almost cruelly indifferent world. "What are you gonna tell her when she's wrong?/Will you just shrug and say it's been that way all along?/What are you gonna tell her when she figures out/That all this time you built her up just so the world can let her down?" she sings in the chorus. What's most devastating is how true it all is.
Mandy Moore — "Tryin' My Best, Los Angeles": After 11 long years, Mandy Moore has finally returned to music with the release of Silver Landings, her seventh studio album. On this dreamy folk-pop track dedicated the the City of Angels, the This Is Us star finds herself celebrating the possibility the city offers to those with a dream, despite how damn hard it can seem at times. We feel ya, girl.
Buscabulla — "NTE": This lead single off the forthcoming debut album from the Puerto Rican duo of Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo del Valle feels like summer come to life. "The song is about defying preconceptions and affirming your own complex identity in a world that increasingly tries to simplify and commodify it," the two told The FADER of the seriously funky track. All we know is it sounds like a vacation, and with everything going on in the world, we sure could use one.
Alec Benjamin — "The Book Of You & I": The latest tease of singer-songwriter's forthcoming debut album finds the indie pop upstart getting emotional as he sings about a relationship he's not quite ready to leave in the past.
Jhené Aiko feat. Ty Dolla $ign — "Party for Me": The R&B songstress closes out her sublime third studio album Chilombo with this silky turn-up track featuring an inspired assist from Ty.
Bazzi — "Young & Alive": The "Mine" singer returns with this carefree bop dedicated to young love that absolutely soars. Get lost in it.
Empress Of — "Give Me Another Chance": There's something undeniably hypnotic about this lead single from the L.A.-based alt-pop star's forthcoming third LP, I'm Your Empress Of. Between the slinky percussive loop, the soaring synths and her assured vocals, it's a knockout.
The Marías — "Hold It Together": This new release from the L.A.-based indie band is the very definition of dream pop. Lead singer María's angelic vocals against the song's funky guitar line is such a delight.