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!
The vibes can't be topped this week. Lil Nas X and Camila Cabello have given us high-energy singles with cinematic music videos, complemented by the upbeat "What U Want" by Lil XXEL, Tyga and Coi Leray and the must-listen "Bitch Don't Be Mad" by Maeta.
Khalid shows his serious side with "New Normal," lamenting, "You found your way but it's never enough." James Blake can't escape the comparisons to Finneas O'Connell (yes, the eight-time Grammy winner who makes a cameo in his music video), as he confronts his insecurities in the somber "Say What You Will."
Then, go down the rabbit hole with Sophie and the Giants, who is self-aware enough to admit, "Oh, I'm sorry I killed all the butterflies / I think you should know by now / That I'm gonna let you down." Spoiler alert: She didn't.
What follows are our picks for the best of the best. Your playlist for the weekend of July 23-25 has arrived. Enjoy!
Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow — "INDUSTRY BABY"
This music industry baby is all grown up. Following the devilish success of "MONTERO," Lil Nas X is back with a jack-of-all-trades music video, sentencing himself to five years in Montero state prison. He shines his Grammy trophies from his jail cell, makes it rain cash and showers with his fellow nude inmates (the dancers' naughty bits are blurred out).
"When I'm back up at the top, I wanna hear you say / He don't run from nothin', dog," sings the "Old Town Road" icon, before he tunnels his way out of there and causes even more trouble.
Camila Cabello — "Don't Go Yet"
The Fifth Harmony alum (and body positive activist) just gave us the first song from her next album, Familia. She started working on the album about a year ago, using a "makeshift studio" in her bedroom in Miami, she explained on Instagram. She said the vibrant "Don't Go Yet" was influenced by "old Cuban songs," while the entire album was inspired by "family and food."
"Your family by blood, but also your chosen family," Camila shared. "Who you want to break bread with. Who you want to sit at the dinner table with, cook a meal for, get wine-drunk with, and dance in the living room with."
As she put it, "To me, those are the moments that make me glad to be alive, those moments of collective joy and true vulnerability and connection with other people... I hope it inspires many wine drunk kitchen dance parties for you and your familia."
Khalid — "New Normal"
The phrase "new normal" has been thrown around a lot in the midst of the pandemic, but leave it to "Eastside" hitmaker Khalid to give it a whole new meaning. The artist shows his range with "New Normal" about adapting to change, saying the reflective number "is really special to me." The 23 year old wrote on Insta, "No matter what life throws your way, it'll only be just a season. Always remain hopeful 'summer has its end sometimes.'" He called it "The start of a new era."
James Blake — "Say What You Will"
In the words of one very observant fan: "this is 'you vs the guy she told you not to worry about' as a music video."
In this case, James constantly compares himself to fellow ginger musician Finneas, best known as Billie Eilish's bro and producing partner, who appears in the music video. James feels his accomplishments piddle in comparison and tries to get him out of his mind, even skipping Finneas' songs in his car before another one comes on.
James (who may look familiar to fans of his girlfriend, Jameela Jamil) even faces off with his look-alike in the gym, while singing being replaced.
Sophie and the Giants — "If I Don't Break Your Heart I'll Break Mine"
If this music was a painting, it would only use the best colors, as evidenced by the cover art.
"This song is about coming to the realisation you need to be with yourself," the English music group wrote on social media of this beautiful track. According to singer Sophie Scott, "I must've wrote it when I was 19, I remember being constantly swallowed by anxiety and unsure of who I was... My head just told me I needed to take a minute to breath by myself and whilst doing so, hoping the people who loved me would understand."
Maeta — "Bitch Don't Be Mad"
This sultry song starts with the ultimate not-so-humble brag: "I ain't mad / 'Cause I know I'm the best s--t that you'll have." None other than Kylie Jenner is a fan of the R&B singer, revealing on social media that she listens to "Toxic" (Maeta's collab with BEAM). "Bitch Don't Be Mad" will certainly be tiding us over until Rihanna's next single drops, and we're not mad about it.
Lil XXEL, Tyga and Coi Leray — "What U Want"
Lil XXEL has already showed his stuff on TikTok, amassing 2.7 million followers. Now, the pink-haired dance star is supersizing his influence with "What U Want," which is backed by rappers Tyga and Coi Leray and has the same sonic appeal as Bazzi's "Mine." With lyrics like "I got freaky ways to put you on / Dress you up in Saint Laurent," it's not hard to imagine this party smash inspiring the next viral TikTok dance.