Welcome to Variety Music’s first-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.
We did not include songs from the excellent albums by Charli XCX, Jason Isbell, Perfume Genius, Moses Sumney and Nick Hakim that dropped today, because you can read about them in our full reviews linked above.
Katy Perry “Daisies” — It’s been almost three years since Perry released the anticlimactic “Witness” album, and although she’s dropped a few equally anticlimactic songs since (anyone remember “Harleys in Hawaii”? No?), with this one, it feels like she’s back for real. With Perry, it always comes down to who she’s working with, and this collaboration with members of the Monsterz & Strangers songwriting-production collective (who have several songs on Dua Lipa’s excellent new LP, as well as tracks with Camila Cabello, Halsey, Pink and loads of others), this is a “Firework”-style slow burner that shows off how far she’s come as a singer.
The 1975 “Guys” — Arguably England’s biggest rock group at the moment (not that there’s a big fight for that crown anywhere), the 1975 keep it low-key with this breezy mid-tempo groove as the lead-in for the release of their fourth album next week.
Ro James featuring Brandy “Plan B” — This soulful slow jam is one of the strongest tracks to date from this young R&B singer, but what it really makes you wonder is why Brandy isn’t featured on dozens of songs every single year: Her gorgeous counterpart here makes a good song transcendent, and it’s even got a nice throwback reference: “Hit me like a lightning strike, like 1999/ Back when the music was right.” Our only complaint is it’s over too soon.
Slowthai “Enemy” — This British-Baijan rapper has dropped three songs this week, and the first in the litter is the hottest: His deeply accented rap is laid over a woozy, grinding, bass-heavy rhythm from producers Samo and Kwes Darko that we could listen to all day. Lyrics are NSFW although the “Blair Witch Project”-style video is not.
Caribou “Never Come Back” (Four Tet remix) — Four Tet takes a house-y song from Caribou’s latest album “Suddenly,” and houses it up even more, ramping up the bass and letting the song — and, hopefully, the listener — stretch its legs.