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!
Remember how sure we were that the arrival of 2021 meant that all of 2020's problems would go away? Well, at least we have new music to distract ourselves with.
From the arrival of new Taylor Swift tracks with meanings to puzzle over to the return of the original One Direction defector (and new dad) Zayn Malik and more, these are our picks for the best of the best in this first full week of January.
Your playlist for the weekend of Jan. 8-10 has arrived. Enjoy!
Taylor Swift — "it's time to go"
Taylor says this song, one of two bonus tracks from evermore's deluxe version released to streaming services this week, is "about listening to your gut when it tells you to leave." We're pretty sure it's about the end of her relationship with former label Big Machine Records. "Now he sits on his throne in his palace of bones praying to his greed, he's got my past frozen behind glass but I've got me," she sings in what feels like a very thinly veiled reference to the sale of her masters to Scooter Braun. Either way, it's a gorgeous, haunting piece of work.
ZAYN — "Vibez"
This little slice of mid-tempo R&B, the prelude to Zayn's forthcoming third LP, Nobody Is Listening, more than lives up to its title. He sounds right at home on the production, itself a throwback to the sort of thing that would've been on every house party playlist in the early '00s.
Saweetie feat. Doja Cat — "Best Friend"
After an unfortunate hiccup that saw the track released ahead of schedule late last year, this collab between the two fierce MCs has finally, officially arrived. And its empowering celebration of female friendship was well worth the wait. This one is a lot of fun.
Jazmine Sullivan feat. H.E.R. — "Girl Like Me"
Featured on Jazmine's new album Heaux Tales, this one is a sumptuous, if slightly heartbreaking, slow burn from two R&B all-stars performing at the height of their game. The vocals are everything.
Zara Larsson feat. Young Thug — "Talk About Love"
The Swedish pop star kicks off a new year with this mid-tempo bop that manages to be pretty romantic despite its lyrical insistence on avoiding that titular talk. She might make strange bedfellows with Young Thug, but the rapper's verse offers a pretty perfect counterpoint. An anthem for everyone who's not quite ready to DTR.
dvsn — "Use Somebody"
The Canadian R&B duo seriously deliver on this steamy R&B cover of the Kings of Leon hit. It's a whole damn mood.
Olivia Rodrigo — "drivers license"
The High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star scores on her first at-bat, delivering a soaring debut single that cuts deep. She's one to watch.
Rhye — "Come In Closer"
The latest from Canadian singer-songwriter Michael Milosh, this track about the deepening of all manner of relationships is a dreamy affair worthy of getting lost in for four minutes and change. Just let it wash over you like a salve from the madness.
Charlotte Lawrence — "Talk You Down"
This excellent track from the rising star balances a breezy trop house production with lyrics about coping with crisis through communication. We'd all be wise to heed her advice.
Bas & The Hics — "Smoke From Fire"
While technically the theme song to Dreamville's new podcast The Messenger, which Bas is host of, the rapper's latest collaboration with electronic group The Hics might as well be the theme song for so many out there doing the work. A powerful anthem.