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!
Another week of social distancing, another week of new releases to help us get through it. By now, you've probably checked out Rihanna's surprise return to the music industry with a feature on PARTYNEXTDOOR's new album. (Still waiting on R9, though. Sigh.) And there's no doubt you've watched Dua Lipa's new video for "Break My Heart," the latest single of her just-released sophomore album Future Nostalgia. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
As always, we've sifted through and listened to (nearly) all of the new music available this week and returned in hand with our picks for the best of the best. From the joyous return of Little Mix to an incredibly timely and optimistic release from OneRepublic, the release of stunning albums from Jessie Reyez, 5 Seconds of Summer and, yes Queen Dua, this is the music that you need to get you through another weekend at home. Enjoy and be well.
Dua Lipa — "Hallucinate": In the run-up to the release of Future Nostalgia, her second studio album, Dua has proven that she is a force to be reckoned with. Every single track used to tease the album only amped up our excitement for the LP more, beginning with the impeccable "Don't Start Now" through the pulsating "Physical." And now that the album is here, a week ahead of schedule because Dua knows we need nice things in times like these, we are pleased to report there is no sophomore slump in sight. From the Blondie-eque rapping in "Levitating" to the excellent sample of White Town's "Your Woman" in "Love Again," the incredibly cheeky "Good in Bed" and the sobering "Boys Will Be Boys," there isn't one bad song in the bunch. But the clear standout is this divine dance track that Dua described to Apple Music as "freeing" and "my festival song." We can't wait to see this one live and lose our damn minds.
ROSALÍA — "Dolerme": We're still waiting on the album, but the Spanish songstress continues to whet our appetite for new music with this track. With a title that translates to "Hurt Me" in English, the ballad with a production reminiscent of the early-'00s folktronica Madonna and Mirwais were experimenting with on the American Life album marks something of a departure from Rosalía's usual style, only further proving that there isn't much she can't do. "I know that what I do as an artist may seem expendable, for some it will be, but for me being able to make music is mental health," she wrote on Instagram as she announced the song, touching on her self-quarantine during the global coronavirus crisis. "This song is called 'Dolerme' and I hope it makes you feel a little better like it did to me when I made it."
OneRepublic — "Better Days": On this gorgeous new track from Ryan Tedder and the boys' upcoming fifth album Human, due May 9, the band delivers a rousing and much-needed dose of optimism. "Oh, I know that there'll be better days/Oh, that sunshine 'bout to come my way," Tedder sings in the emotional chorus. "May we never ever shed another tear for today/'Cause oh, I know that there'll be better days." And it's not just a strange coincidence how timely the track feels, either. The band actually wrote the song while in quarantine. "We were in the final week of our fifth album deadline when a global pandemic was declared by the WHO. A few of us unknowingly got exposed to somebody with COVID-19 in London and ended up in quarantine in L.A. at my studio for two weeks," Tedder said in a statement. "With only two songs left to finish, one of them happened to be 'Better Days.' We write about real experiences and events that happen to us — this is what happens when you write a song during a crisis." Through September 2020, a portion of the proceeds from the song's streams will go to MusiCares' COVID-19 Relief Fund, which helps fellow artist whose livelihoods have been upended by the pandemic.
Jessie Reyez — "DEAF (who are you)": Jessie's debut album, Before Love Came to Kill Us, is finally here and it's a stunning tour de force that's worth a listen from start to finish. This track, which finds the Canadian singer telling off her haters over a bone-rattling beat that practically begs you turn your speakers all the way up, is a clear standout. It's absolutely dripping with swag, a potent reminder that Jessie is not to be f--ked with.
R3HAB x Andy Grammer — "Good Example": Sure, the lyrics in the team-up between the EDM producer and one of pop's most uplifting voices are about the necessary distance while someone's following their dreams, but they certainly take on new life while listening during this time of unprecedented social distancing. "When I'm away/When I can't stay/I know my heart breaks every night that I'm without you/Oh my dear/I need you to hear/There's a reason for the miles that surround us," Grammer sings in the first verse of the song before ultimately reaching the chorus. "You know I'm trying to be a good example/I'm just trying to be a good example," he sings. "So when it gets hard to handle/You know I'm trying to be a good example." It may be hard to handle right now, but let's all be good examples, OK?
Giveon — "FAVORITE MISTAKE": One of our favorite new voices in R&B--seriously, just listen to those silken, sumptuous vocals--has released his debut EP, Take Time, and it's a revelation. His smooth baritone on this standout track is just the thing we need to calm our nerves right now. Get acquainted now.
5 Seconds of Summer — "Red Desert": With the release of their fourth studio album CALM, the Aussie band have successfully completed their transition from boys to men. Nowhere is that more clear than on this opening track, with its reverential nod to '70s rock reveries and explosive group harmonies. This one hits hard, with a rollicking production that gets under your skin in the best way possible.
Ari Lennox feat. Doja Cat — "BMO (Remix)": One of our favorite MCs of the moment hops on the remix of this banger off Ari's debut album, 2019's Shea Butter Baby, and takes the R&B track to a whole other level with a verse that only serves to remind us why we've been stanning her for so long.
Little Mix — "Break Up Song": For the official lead single for their forthcoming sixth studio album, the UK girl group deliver on this '80s-influenced bop that finds them determined to remain defiant in their singlehood. "Tonight I'll sing another break-up song, So turn it up — let it play on and on and on and on," they sing in unison in the upbeat and infectious chorus. "For all of the times they screwed us over, let it play on and on and on."
Florida Georgia Line — "I Love My Country": Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley reaffirm their devotion to the genre on this rollicking country-rock banger that serves as the bombastic first taste of their upcoming fifth album. (It doesn't hurt that the main hook has a blatantly patriotic double-meaning in these times of strife, either.) "This was one of the first songs we did [for our upcoming project]. And it's just made us feel so good and gave us so much joy," Hubbard told Esquire. "Considering the time that we're living in right now, with everyone quarantined and maybe living in a little bit of fear, it felt like a song that could bring a little light to people."
Oliver Malcolm — "Helen": This latest single from the Swedish-born Brit is hard to describe succinctly. The production, handled by Malcolm himself, is frenetic, unpredictable and a ride absolutely worth taking. And it's only his second song ever.
Maty Noyes — "Sunlight": Responsible for one of our favorite tracks from 2017, the mind-blowing and cinematic "London," the singer-songwriter returns with this shimmery little track about an all-consuming love that has us dreaming of better days spent basking in the sun's rays.
Major Lazer feat. Marcus Mumford — "Lay Your Head On Me": Diplo's famed dancehall-EDM trio embrace his recent pivot to country-fried dance music with this soulful team-up with the Mumfurd & Sons frontman that's just the right mix of folk guitar and island vibes. An uplifting moment just when we need it most.
Alexis Wilkins — "Holdin' On": The Nashville-based singer-songwriter makes her debut with this mid-tempo track dedicated to the things that matter most, like "Daddy's words and Momma's hands, true friends who really know who I am...real good times, real good love, real strong faith in the God above."
Kygo feat. Zara Larsson and Tyga — "Like It Is": The Norwegian DJ taps the Swedish songstress and the American rapper for his next banger, a track about making it clear that you're not all that interested.