Featuring Tash Sultana, Anderson .Paak and Smokey Robinson, Khalid, Lostboycrow, MADELIN and more
This was an incredible week for music, with releases from the likes of Khalid, Sara Bareilles, Aurora, Marina and the Diamonds, Weyes Blood, Mac DeMarco, Vampire Weekend, and Anderson .Paak promising to brighten your day no matter what kind of music you're into.
Here are some of the week's best new tracks—some by lesser-known artists, some instant classics, but all finding some kind of peace within chaos, whether through forgiveness, self-love, wistful nostalgia, or comfort in one's makeshift family.
1. Anderson .Paak and Smokey Robinson: Make It Better
Anderson .Paak - Make It Better (ft. Smokey Robinson) (Official Video) www.youtube.com
This is the sonic equivalent of a long, deep drink of water at 3 AM; somehow refreshing on a soul-deep level, it's enhanced by cinematic strings and Smokey Robinson's '50s soul-style harmonies, which rise and fall over a punchy beat. It all comes together to form a song that's joyful and full of life, equal parts experimental and true to its influences. "Make It Better" is about deciding to work on a relationship instead of letting it fade away, and it's the perfect soundtrack for anybody trying to do the same. It also sounds tailor-made for a walk in a park on a spring day after a long, dark winter, or for a reconciliatory dance in the kitchen as the sun rises; in short, it sounds like a quiet redemption.
2. Tash Sultana: Can't Buy Happiness
Tash Sultana - Can't Buy Happiness (Official Video Clip) 4K www.youtube.com
Tash Sultana has returned with a luxuriously dreamy new single, her first release since 2018's excellent Flow State. "Can't Buy Happiness" is a slow burn, beginning with a still, quiet reflectiveness that bursts into full-on ecstasy about halfway through. Sultana has never been one to hold back, and here she unleashes the full scope of her voice, guitar, and creative vision, creating a psychedelic firework display that ebbs and flows with all the violence of a tropical storm. You might have to take a breath afterward because this is a rollercoaster in the best way, a wild ride through rich sonic textures, crashing waves, and flawless, emotive guitar riffs.
3. Noname: Song 32
Noname - Song 32 www.youtube.com
Noname is one of the best in the game right now, and she's returned to solidify this representation with a subdued new track called "Song 32." Her crystalline bars fit neatly over a sparse beat and erupt on the chorus, before settling back down into the rhythm and then rising back up again. It's a calm, gentle, and yet softly assertive composition; and ultimately, it sounds like a woman at peace with herself, keyed into her own strength. "I'm the best of America," she repeats, letting the music take over for a moment before launching back into her effortless, intricate verses.
4. Lostboycrow: Cody in the Valley
Cody in the Valley www.youtube.com
The rising singer from East L.A. has been touring relentlessly and steadily releasing bits of his first LP Santa Fe. This week, he dropped a new addition featuring the title track as well as "Cody in the Valley." The latter is misty, mournful pop at its purest; it's a sultry and unaffected tune that begins with pristine piano and builds up to a guitar-streaked chorus, fleshed out by rich harmonies. It's a song for sunsets and smoky nights and carries with it some of the nostalgic, saturated gloom of early Lorde; and it's a promising addition to Lostboycrow's growing body of impressive work.
5. MADELIN: Monarch
Experimental pop artist MADELIN just released a new single, and it's an eclectic and euphoric dance track that carries with it all the energy of a summer night in New York City. She told Popdust, "Monarch is inspired by the colorful intensity of the New York City and Brooklyn queer nightlife scene. I wrote it at a time in my life when going out and seeing all the unique, beautiful, artistic drag queens and club kids was the only thing making me feel truly alive. It's about being inspired by other people's creativity and getting closer to your own, feeling the collective energy of misfit humans together in one space, getting lost in the adrenaline, love, and beauty of a fleeting moment."
"Monarch" does justice to this mission. It's a gleaming collage of synths and beats, a danceable and energy-filled celebration of all the joy, strangeness, and communion that Brooklyn nightlife and queerness have to offer. Check out Popdust's 2018 interview with her here.
5. Khalid: Paradise
Khalid - Paradise (Audio) www.youtube.com
Though he's no longer a young dumb broke high school kid, Khalid is still just as good at creating effortlessly catchy tunes as he was back then. His songwriting talents have grown over the years, though, and Free Spirit showcases his knack for turning ordinary experiences into cinematic events. "Paradise" in particular is a casual, ultra-relaxed tribute to escapism, a song that seems made for smoke-filled rooms and late nights. His falsetto rises above a fluorescent beat, and a buoyant guitar outro adds to the song's carefree, dreamlike atmosphere. It's one of the highlights of his all-around fantastic sophomore album.
Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Find her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.
POP⚡DUST | Read More...
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- Top Songs of the Week | Consequence of Sound ›
- The Best New Songs of the Week ›
- The Best New Songs Of The Week: Listen - Stereogum ›
- The Best New Music This Week | Complex ›
- 6 New Songs You Need to Hear Now: 12/21/18 | Revolver ›
Also, A Great Big World, Madelin & Jacki Stone Reflect on Life, Love, and Passion.
Big messages with even bigger club beats.
Ready to Pop is a safe space. Let the anxiety drip away, and bask in the flavors of true LGBTQIA+ power. You'll be swept away in thick club glitter, doused with messages of acceptance, heartbreak, and octane-fueled energy. There's often a misconception that the LGBTQIA+ community doesn't have much to talk about in music but we're all the same: we are just human forms with hearts that break way too easily. Below, check out our latest obsessions, rated on a (slay) scale of "Super Chill" to "Shook" to "Wig Snatched."
Leland - "Run into You"
Breakups are hard. The aftermath is harder. Prolific pop songwriter Leland (real name Brett McLaughlin), known for penning songs for Troye Sivan, Daya, Selena Gomez, Kelsea Ballerini, and others, doesn't think twice about his ex. "Run into You" is the perfectly juicy post-heartbreak anthem to get over the pain, rainbow synths washing over you in great waves. It's intoxicating, and even if you're not on the dance floor right now in this moment, you'll want to be. "I gave you everything I had to know / It's not that easy to undo / Though I try my best to avoid you / Sometimes you just can't give a fuck," he spits, barbed and euphoric. Soon, you too will be giving zero fucks about an ex.
Slay Scale: Shook
Madelin - "Roxelana" (MAXO remix)
There are few bold and beautiful artists like Madelin, somewhat of a favorite here on Popdust. She's brash and daring and downright vibrant. A MAXO-helmed remix of "Roxelana," as part of her brand new Peachmixes EP, a delightful set of reinventions of her self-titled EP, is sweeping psychedelic-pop at its finest.
Slay Scale: Wig Snatched
Michael Blume - "R U Mad"
If you know anything about Michael Blume, you know he's a provocateur, often blending his sexual excursions with songs of strong social messages. "R U Mad" slinks along, tossing on the innuendoes with feverish intensity. "Are you mad that I'm gay?" he loops, fusing hip-hop, pop and neo-soul into a delicious tease. "I'm in the back / I'm on the bus / Want to get off / I'm in a rush / I'm running late / Don't come too soon," he sings, with a wink and a smile.
Warning: it'll likely bring you to tears.
Slay Scale: Wig Snatched
A Great Big World - "Younger"
It's the age of nostalgia. And it makes sense. We as humans long for our prime, the heyday of skipping class, going for joy rides 'round town and that wholly innocent feeling. Pop tunesmiths A Great Big World, who continue to somehow be treated as the consummate underdogs, delight in that nostalgia, sunny and hopefully. "I wish I was younger / The fat kid with the big, blue eyes full of wonder," Ian Axel admits on the opening lyric. That tone-setting confession is a sweet reminder that adulthood often leads to loss of a child's wonder, leaving us sad and classically burdened with the world. "Where did all the magic go?" they prompt. We may never really know.
Slay Scale: Super Chill
Jacki Stone - "Wishful Drinking"
Drinking away the pain is a common theme in much of country music. Newcomer Jacki Stone offers up her own blistered take, one that's pretty emotionally draining, drenched in the lonesome wail of guitar and fiddle. "Yeah, and maybe I'm just thirsty all alone," she weeps. "Wishful Drinking" unravels her heartstrings with unfettered release. Stone comes clean about a lot of things, including, but not limited to, the fact she might not be completely over an ex after all. Her performance is visceral, plainspoken, and rather moving.
Slay Scale: Super Chill
POP⚡DUST | Read More…
Eclectic and strong pop melodies reinvented.
Not fully satisfied with her self-titled, 2017 EP, Madelin decided to let her friends remix all of her songs.
After releasing her self-titled EP and gaining some indie notoriety for her single "Good List ," Madelin decided to ditch her publishing company and head out on her own, searching for the artistic freedom she felt she was missing. In an attempt to completely reinvent her old tunes, she shipped off her entire EP to various producers, allowing them to take the songs and completely reshape them. The end result was The Peachmixes, an eclectic medley that blends strong electric rhythms with Madelin's indie pop melodies. Since the EP drops this Friday, we decided to give Madelin a call to talk about Tarot cards, going out on her own, and of course, her new music in this Popdust extended interview.