New Day (4:18)
Producers: Swizz Beatz, Trevor Lawrence Jr., Andre Brissett
For her first single after marrying producer Swizz Beatz and becoming a new mother, Alicia Keys taps her hubby for production duties on a track that breaks new sonic ground for the singer. Featuring some of the hardest-hitting beats she's been behind since 2004's "Karma," "New Day" tells the story of a fresh start, without actually saying much. "Party people say/Party people say ehhhh/It's a new day," she sings on the reggae-lite chorus, while the verses don't rise above platitudes like "It's now or never at all/I'm gonna give it my all/Whether I rise or fall." Of course, lyrics have never been Keys' strong suit, so her keen ear for melody and a newfound knack for party-worthy chants are enough to save "New Day" from becoming a throwaway transition single. Although Swizz Beatz won't be present on most of Keys' upcoming fifth album, he did indicate in a recent interview that the record finds her heading in a new musical direction, which presumably means we can expect more of this newly confident side of Keys in the near future.
You're Gonna Love This (3:32)
Publishers: EMI Blackwood Music/Master Falcon Music/Dick Jams (BMI)
Photo Finish Records
To preview upcoming album "Omens," electro-pop duo 3OH!3 has returned with a new single, "You're Gonna Love This," that's obsessed with anticipation, as the title suggests. The song opens with steady drums marching alone until Sean Foreman's cocky, Auto-Tuned voice enters, detailing his plans to woo a woman with drinks at the bar. The electronic sounds then swirl, becoming louder and increasing in intensity, until they lead into a drum-less chorus. The refrain similarly builds up until the phrase is delivered in a deep, computerized voice. This effect is repeated throughout the song as a quirky hook, but unlike some of 3OH!3's past pop party favors, this one quickly exhausts itself. While "You're Gonna Love This" is more musically engaging than previous efforts, the single loses its luster with each listen.
Producer: Alex Newport
Writers: K. Okereke, R. Lissack, G. Moakes, M. Tong
Publisher: EMI Music Publishing
Fans of angular indie-rock suffered a major scare when Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke hinted at the possible demise of his once-championed quartet in an interview last year. But no need to ring the silent alarm: Bloc Party is officially back, and judging by the caffeinated guitar-rock jitters of new single "Octopus," the band members are more happy to be themselves than ever. There's something oddly comforting about the track's nervous energy - particularly Russell Lissack's effects-damaged guitar riffs and the reliably dynamic flair of Matt Tong's drums - especially after the bloated electronics of their last full-length, 2008's "Intimacy." "Octopus" may not be as immediate or instrumentally powerful as the group's mightiest anthems, but it's a raw return to form for a band that desperately needed a creative reboot.