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!
Get ready for some good old fashioned fun across more genres than you can count.
This week, Dan + Shay and Michael Ray deliver country bangers with attitude. Darren Criss, Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and ayokay span multiple genres (pop, R&B and EDM) with hits that we can dance to all night long.
Billie Eilish has made her electropop fans Happier Than Ever with her sophomore album, which balances out our playlist with its somber tone about not having it all, despite having it all. In the title song, she goes hard in chastising an ex, saying, "I'd never treat me this sh--ty" and "all that you did was make me f--kin' sad."
Finally, Jack Antonoff and Lana Del Rey pick up right where they left off on her last album, by collabing on his new indie project for Bleachers, Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night. Their duet puts the glorious sadness back in, as they lament, "God, I want a secret life."
What follows are our picks for the best of the best. Your playlist for the weekend of July 30 to Aug. 1 has arrived. Enjoy!
Billie Eilish — "Happier Than Ever"
Billie's Marilyn Monroe transformation is complete. After going blonde for her second era, the 19 year old gives us this titular track, with a moody retro sound that begs to be heard on a vintage record player.
It's easy to see why Billie might be happier than ever, considering she won an incredible seven Grammys before her second album even dropped. Yet, in spite of the title, she's less happy and more melancholy, as she sings about an unreliable and "embarrassing" companion. "Don't say it isn't fair / You clearly werеn't aware that you made me misеrable," she croons. Fans can detect influences of Julie London's 1950s song "Cry Me a River," which Billie has said was an inspiration.
Bleachers feat. Lana Del Rey — "Secret Life"
The official collaborator of music's cool girls, Jack Antonoff is ready for fans to hear his band's first studio album in four years.
Lana clearly couldn't get enough after he produced and co-wrote multiple songs on her 2021 album Chemtrails over the Country Club. In return, she co-wrote one song for Bleachers ("Don't Go Dark") and features on another ("Secret Life"). The latter, a slow single from Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night, feels like the soundtrack of an NYC drifter, as he chain-smokes his way around the city and dreams of a secret life "where you and I can get bored out our minds."
Dan + Shay — "Lying"
No cap, summer isn't summer without a new Dan + Shay single. In this upbeat track, the Grammy-winning country duo promise an ex that they're doing just fine without her. "I don't miss you in my bed / I don't hear you in my head / I don't love you, I'm not crying," they sing, before adding the less believable line "And I swear I'm not lying."
We know what you're thinking: People who are really over their ex typically don't write a whole song about how they're really over their ex. But Dan and Shay are optimistic. They're "just tryna keep on tellin' myself" they're happy, until they are—and it rubs off on the listener. Play "Lying" at your cookout this weekend before their album next Good Things drops on Aug. 13.
Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and Silk Sonic — "Skate"
The R&B duo, comprised of Bruno and Anderson, serenade one "fine" lady with this carefree number, which sees them both blissed out behind a drum set in the music video. "Oh, superstar is what you are / I'm your biggest fan / if you're lookin' for a man, suga, here I am," sings the "24K Magic" star, as confident and irresistible as always.
ayokay — "Better With You"
L.A.-based music producer ayokay (born Alex O'Neill) delivers his first new song since his 2019 EP we come alive. For fans of Harry Styles' Fine Line or Zedd's "Stay the Night," enjoy this slightly more mellow dance track about convincing a lover to come back to you. "I'm just gonna push 'til you push back," he sings. "I just wanna know where you're heads at."
Ayokay says "Better With You" is "the song I've been aiming to make since I started singing on my production." He describes it as having "the upbeat summery dance feel that has become a big part of my sound, but with a fresh take on the indie house space that is currently inspiring me most. All of that paired with lyrics written about a personal relationship story that I felt I needed to tell, I think the song is the perfect glimpse of what to expect from my upcoming project."
Darren Criss — "For a Night Like This"
"For a Night Like This" is the dance-party-in-your-living-room song we've been needing all pandemic long. Darren starts off by admitting it's "been a long, long year / We made it through," so "We deserve to celebrate / Breaking the bank to break down the door / Go hard until we can't anymore." The Glee alum puts on his rose-colored glasses, pops the bubbly and turns up the music to make the most of any ol' night.
The singer describes this single as "character-driven," teasing he will explore even more personas on his EP Masquerade, out on Aug. 20.
Michael Ray — "Just The Way I am"
This self-described "hick" embraces both his flaws and fun side in his new country single. Michael confesses, "I might cuss a little more than I probably should / I'm a poor man's Hemingway, back in the woods." But he's quick to remind the ladies: "I'm a night you might regret / I'm that time that you'll never forget."
The Florida native says his next EP (Higher Education, due on Aug. 27) is about "going through life and the hard knocks that make you who you are... coming out of it stronger, having let it change you without hardening you. This album reminds me that even though we all go through hard times, we grow and we're better for it."