Welcome to Variety Music’s second-ever Fri 5, our collection of the best, most noteworthy or simply most remarkable new songs from the past week. It is not complete or definitive or a fight-to-the-death “best of,” but rather a bunch of songs that we find interesting — because a world without five interesting new songs every week would be a sad world indeed. (Read last week’s Fri 5 here.)
Of course, the blockbuster of the week is the Lady Gaga-Ariana Grande team-up “Rain on Me” — which we reviewed after it dropped last night (but below is the video that just arrived), as we did the 1975’s epic and excellent latest album, “Notes on a Conditional Form.”
Here are the five we haven’t already reviewed:
The Weeknd “In Your Eyes” remix featuring Doja Cat Despite his lone-musical-wolf image, The Weeknd is actually a serial collaborator who’s worked with everyone from Beyonce and Daft Punk to Ariana Grande and Travis Scott. Add Doja Cat, currently riding high with her Dr. Luke-helmed No. 1 smash “Say So,” to that mix — literally. While Weeknd’s parts on this highlight from his hit album “After Hours” are generally the same as on the main version, Doja brings a whole new angle to the song, singing and rapping parts that almost bring a new song within the song. (And while you’re at it, check out our cover story on The Weeknd from last month.)
Deadmau5 & the Neptunes “Pomegranate” As Pharrell Williams has stepped forward more and more as an artist and celebrity, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the Neptunes — the songwriting-production duo with Chad Hugo that initially put him on the map with hits for Kelis, Jay-Z, Clipse and many more — are an ongoing concern (and are being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame). While this new collaboration with dance-music titan Deadmau5 features a trademark squiggly Neptunes hook, it actually recalls Pharrell’s work with Daft Punk, particularly “Lose Yourself to Dance.” Look for this one to be a similar smash for our pandemic summer.
Carly Rae Jepsen, “Now I Don’t Hate California After All” Just as she did shortly after the release of her artistic breakthrough, 2015’s “Emotion,” indie pop darling Carly Rae Jepsen has once again emptied her drafts folder with an album-length selection of outtakes from last year’s LP “Dedicated,” and once again listeners will likely find themselves asking: “how the hell did this not make the album?” Quarantine might provide oddly hospitable conditions for Jepsen’s brand of wistfully-dancing-alone-in-your-bedroom jams – and new songs like “This Love Isn’t Crazy” and “Felt This Way” ably fit that bill – but the collection’s most irresistible track is its odd-duck closer, “Now I Don’t Hate California After All.” A love letter to the Canadian singer’s adopted home state, the song swaps Jepsen’s usual sleek synths for the sounds of waves, bubbly marimbas, and even a bit of faux Hawaiian steel guitar for a laid-back, slow-melting sundae of a summer anthem. — Andrew Barker
Disclosure “Energy” The British brothers of Disclosure have been low on the radar in the past couple of years, but they’re bursting back with a new album, “Energy,” due at the end of August — which is preceded by the title track single this week. If the voice on the song sounds familiar to fans, it should: It pairs a rhythm from an album of Brazilian library music with cut-up samples of preacher Eric Thomas, whose words memorably appeared on Disclosure’s breakthrough song, 2013’s “When a Fire Starts to Burn.” “Look! Where your focus goes, your energy flows,” Thomas says on the song. “Are you hearing me?” Well, are you?
Phoebe Bridgers “I See You” This prolific young singer-songwriter has been seemingly everywhere in recent months, not just with her own songs — her excellent sophomore album “Punisher” is coming on June 19 — but with Boyracer (her supergroup with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker), her Better Oblivion Community Center project Conor Oberst, and she’s even on the new 1975 album that dropped today. This song, her second from “Punisher,” is more of a slow-burn than the lead single “Kyoto,” but bursts into technicolor glory about two minutes in on the line, “I don’t know what I want/ Until I f— it up.”