Each Friday, Pop Shop will showcase a handful of tracks that have been burning up its speakers over the past week. These can include a brand-new song or a track that's been simmering for a minute; the only rule is that it's worth space in the Pop Shop!
Apologies for the lack of Pop Shop Picks over the past weeks. But we're back with a strong batch!
Producers: Mike Crossey, The 1975
Rising U.K. outfit the 1975 treads lightly on "Chocolate," the lead single off its IV EP and upcoming self-titled album. A cocktail of bubblegum alt-rock that was recently spotlighted as an iTunes Single of the Week, "Chocolate" aims to become a top 40-friendly vehicle for the four boys from Cheshire, England. Of course, it will have to do so with lyrics that find frontman Matt Healy escaping from the police with a lover and a stash of marijuana. ("Chocolate," after all, is British slang for weed.) "Now we run away from the boys in the blue/And my car smells like chocolate," Healy laments as the stringy guitar line bounces back into the forefront. Drug references aside, "Chocolate" lets its sugary sweetness steer the listener toward the rest of the 1975's strong IV EP. - NICK WILLIAMS
Producer: Joel Little
Among the most promising artists in the new class of female alt-pop singers is 16-year-old Lorde, whose "Royals" is already a hit in her native New Zealand and just cracked the outer reaches of the Billboard Hot 100. The sultry salute to the simple life crystallizes the euphoria of early-2000s Neptunes production with its minimal bass thump and finger snaps. - CHRIS PAYNE
KINGS OF LEON
Producer: Angelo Petraglia
Following the overwhelming success of the singles "Use Somebody" and "Sex on Fire" in 2009, Kings of Leon released an album, 2010's "Come Around Sundown," that was accessible but a bit too saccharine. Three years later, the Tennessee rockers return with a single that's bruising, disheveled and less self-conscious -- all in all, an encouraging sign for the quartet's next set. - JASON LIPSHUTZ
"Take Back the Night" (5:55)
Producers: Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon
Funky and tight where recent hits like "Mirrors" and "Suit & Tie" were a little too languid, Justin Timberlake's "Take Back the Night" is armed with a melody that recalls Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." Timberlake again relies upon the dexterity of Timbaland and protege J-Roc to create a production that's both retro and singular. - ANDREW HAMPP
"Live For The Night" (3:28)
Producer: Cash Cash
Flag-raising synths and fiery vocals fuel the latest single from EDM whiz kids Krewella, with singers Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf earnestly channeling various best-selling pop divas and producer Kris "Rain Man" Tindl piecing together another intense arrangement. On this song from the group's debut LP (out this fall via Krewella/ÂColumbia), the threesome hits the ground running with a robotic vocal that morphs into the hook "I live for the night" within the first 10 seconds. With lyrics like, "If you bleed that red blood, dance until you get enough" and "I'm gonna rage 'til the dawn, all nighter," Krewella's motives are clear: This is dance club pandering, and it does its job, no matter how shamelessly. A filthy half-time drop at the 2:13 mark might be enough to conjure another hit, after the surprise top 40 success of Krewella's previous single, "Alive." "Live for the Night" could be the single that quickly elevates the Krew above one-hit-wonder status. -NICK WILLIAMS