Not surprisingly, Taylor Swift’s excellent surprise album has huffed up most of the oxygen on this mid-summer day — and Kanye West’s album will probably do the same, whenever he actually finishes it — but that’s all we’re going to say about them because this week saw an absolute avalanche of great new songs — and even two new songs by the Avalanches.
It was a very difficult week to narrow the list down to five, so with a shout-out to the runners up — songs by Reese LaFlare, Ricky Reed, Queen Naija, Kingdom, Samia, LP, Sylvan Esso and especially Lupe Fiasco’s hilarious “Dinosaurs” were all on the shortlist, and you can find most of them on this week’s Spotify’s New Release Friday playlist. But first, one note: As someone who listens to dozens and dozens of new songs each week, these looooooong intros aren’t doing anyone any favors. I’m all for the slowburn in its place but attention spans are getting shorter by the second and in pop songs it’s always good to Get. To. The. POINT! Speaking of which…
J Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny, Tainy “Un Dia (One Day)” Out of all the types of songs this unusual dream team could have released, a banger ballad is not what we expected. While superstars Balvin and Bunny and super-producer Tainy have worked together many times, Grammy Best New Artist winner Dua Lipa is new to the team, but rather than a song in the style of the 21st century disco of her latest album “Future Nostalgia,” we’ve got her bringing the cool English-language verses to this song’s wistful melody and loping and slow but hard beats. It’s another great song to add to the catalogs of all four artists.
Ski Mask the Slump God “Burn the Hoods” If Ski Mask didn’t already have us with the burning Confederate flag and KKK beatdown in this song’s video, he DEFINITELY did when we found out the song was originally called “F— Donald Trump.” This Florida rapper has been off the radar for a couple of years owing to the deaths of his close friends XXXTentacion and Juice WRLD, but he’s back with a bang here, with plenty to say — check for the references to “Ratatouille,” “Starsky & Hutch” and “Blues Clues,” yes, in a song that slams Trump and racists.
Kylie Minogue “Say Something” It’s one of the many weird disconnects of 2020 that this horrible year of the pandemic has also seen some of the best disco songs in recent memory, from Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware — and now from someone whose 2002 hit “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” looms large over those records, Kylie Minogue. “Say Something,” the first single from her forthcoming 15th (!) studio album — called, naturally enough, “Disco” — has a driving rhythm and an irresistible chorus, not to mention the perhaps unintentionally relevant lyrics: “We’re a million miles apart in a thousand ways…Love, it never ends, can we all be as one again?”
Ashe “Save Myself” Being perfectly honest, the latest from this rising L.A.-based Berklee grad starts off with some lyrics that are a little on the corny-cute side, but it quickly shifts into a soaring melody with a killer chorus — which is not surprising considering her collaborators were Jason Evigan (Maroon 5, Demi Lovato), Casey Smith (Jonas Bros.), Michael Pollack (Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson) and producer Big Taste (Justin Bieber). Despite that murderer’s row of talent, Ashe is very much the center of this song, which may be her best yet (with no disrespect to her Finneas-helmed hit “Moral of the Story”).
Pia Mia “Hot” This young Guam native has been around for a minute but hit a career peak recently with her TikTok-powered hit “Do It Again,” which even inspired a nightmarish-sounding dance challenge between J-Lo and Jimmy Fallon (we couldn’t bring ourselves to look). This collaboration with producers Ben Billions, Nova Wav and the Roommates — with a killer keyboard hook, a twisting melody and even a “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” lyrical reference — delivers just as big. Pop songs don’t have to be deep or topical, they just need to be hot, and this — [Writer carted off before committing felonious cliché…]