This week’s pop releases have us spoiled. Sky Ferreira hadn’t released new solo music in half a decade, but her new single “Downhill Lullaby” is a moody, lush reintroduction to her noir-pop genius. Zara Larsson is a pop princess on the rise, and “Don’t Worry Bout Me” is her best single to date. And, of course, Billie Eilish released her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?. The whole album is brilliant, but I’ve been lost in the glitchy, bombastic “Bad Guy” since it came out.
Sky Ferreira, “Downhill Lullaby”
Sky Ferreira‘s follow-up to her 2013 debut Night Time, My Time has been in the works for half a decade, but her first new single in years is worth the wait. Ferreira is known for being a meticulous worker, and all the care she puts into her music is evident in every detail of “Downhill Lullaby.” Over soaring strings and a thrumming bass, Ferreira sounds like she’s calling angels from the sky (or demons out of hell). It’s bleak, melancholy beauty as only Sky Ferreira can craft it.
Zara Larsson, “Don’t Worry Bout Me”
At just 21-years-old, Zara Larsson has already built an impressive career. The Swedish pop singer has collaborated with everyone from Clean Bandit to Ty Dolla $ign, and has one of the most coveted stadium opening slots of the year (on Ed Sheeran‘s Divide Tour). If she hasn’t reached household name status yet, she certainly will soon. “Don’t Worry Bout Me” is an infectious pop bop — breezy house dancehall meets bubblegum, the intersection of “Passionfruit” Drake and “Greedy” Ariana that seems destined to dominate the charts.
Khalid‘s sophomore album Free Spirit is due out this Friday, and the singer-songwriter has shared another great one to build anticipation for its release. “Self,” as its title suggests, is an inward-looking, contemplative slow burn. Khalid explores the interiority of his own mind, addressing his anxiety and the trappings of fame. He’s a perfectionist, and his wild success has only exacerbated that — he’s competitive, and so used to winning that he’s forgotten how to lose with grace. “Self” is honest and thoughtful. If the singles he’s released from it so far are any indication, Khalid doesn’t have to worry about failure anytime soon.
Gabrielle Aplin, “Nothing Really Matters”
English singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin’s music has tended toward quietness and self-reflection, but on “Nothing Really Matters,” Aplin breaks the mold with a poppy, infectious self-love anthem. On the song, Aplin weeds through the unimportant stuff and comes back to what really matters — the people she loves. This electro-pop anomaly showcases her versatility as a singer and songwriter. She sounds just as at home behind a delicate piano as she does dancing over a choir of synths.
Mauwe, “Sexy Glass”
I can’t say I’ve ever thought of glass as being particularly alluring, but electro-pop duo Mauwe might’ve just changed my mind. The Bristol electro-pop musicians’ new single twinkles with bright pop production and a dark, intoxicating beat. Their vocals are determined to match the persistent lyrics. Listening to it, you feel like you’re on top of the world and capable of anything.
Billie Eilish, “Bad Guy”
Listen to Billie Eilish‘s whole album. Read my review of Billie Eilish’s whole album. But if you only have time for one song this week, let it be “Bad Guy.” It’s a trap-pop banger and a great three-minute summary of everything Billie Eilish is about. She’s got a give-no-f*cks attitude and keen self awareness. She knows exactly what you think of her, but she doesn’t care. She knows her power, and she wields it to make you even more afraid and then laugh in your face. Also, the window-shattering bass in the outro would make Travis Scottproud.
Ciara, “Thinkin Bout You”
No, it’s not a Frank Ocean cover. Ciara‘s first new single since announcing her upcoming album Beauty Marks is a Prince-inspired dance-pop anthem. Yeah, it does sound pretty similar to that other Prince-inspired dance-pop anthem from last year, but don’t call “Thinkin Bout You” a Janelle Monae rip-off. Ciara’s voice is bouncy and incredible, and the song represents her versatility as an artist. She can do the electric EDM-pop of level up. She can do soulful R&B. She can croon and swoon with the best of them.
Rosalía and J Balvin, Feat. El Guincho, “Con Altura
Spanish pop singer Rosalía’s ambitious concept album El Mal Querer was one of my favorites of 2018. Her first new single since the album’s release, “Con Altura,” is pretty different from what we’ve heard of Rosalía. J Balvin turns any song he’s on into a party (and a massive radio hit), and “Con Altura” has electric energy. Rosalía crafts textured baroque pop, but she’s great on a club banger, too. “Con Altura” is a reference to great heights, and it’s a fitting title — Balvin and Rosalîa are icons whose careers will only go up from here.