Little Mix, “Not a Pop Song”
Don’t you dare call it a pop song, but Little Mix’s latest is deserving of a place on this playlist. Perrie, Jesy, Leigh-Anne and Jade are sick of singing bubblegum songs about heartbreak, and “Not a Pop Song” is their stand against the standard. It’s catchy, yes, but it’s the courageous lyrics that make this one special; there’s even some shade towards Syco boss Simon Cowell ("I don't do what Simon says"), who parted ways with the group in 2018. All together now: “I don’t give a what!”
Nova Miller, "Girls Like Us"
"Girls Like Us," from Swedish singer-songwriter Nova Miller, is sugary-sweet -- like candy corn that you can’t stop eating, but without the resulting stomachache. The dance-pop track will appear on Miller’s upcoming EP The Passion (Oct. 16), which will also include earlier bops "Mi Amor" and "Do It To Myself."
Nessa Barrett, "If U Love Me”
The sophomore single from TikTok star Nessa Barrett is a pleasant, off-center surprise. On the sultry (and revenge-tinged) track, the 18-year-old warns, “'Cause what you don't know/ When my heart goes cold/ I hold my demons close/ And I don't let go.” Halsey-on-a-haunted-hayride vibes.
Haerts, Ed Droste, "For the Sky"
Haerts (Nini Fabi and Benny Gebert) bring a new-school Fleetwood Mac feel to this collab with Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste, which is also their first release since the duo’s 2019 album New Compassion. The video features a nine-months-pregnant Fabi, who says the song “came from a dream I had when I first found out” that she was expecting.
“Heavy” fronts Cxloe’s new EP, out Friday (Oct. 16), and it packs a punch. “Used to be my anchor/ Now your anger's all on me,” she growls, “But I let go of s--t that ain't that deep/ It's 4 in the morning/ And you're still there in your corner/ There's more than just a table in between.” Another winner from the Australian singer-songwriter, who truly hasn't missed in 2020.
Bea Miller, “Wisdom Teeth”
Credit Bea Miller -- a gifted singer-songwriter who is currently transitioning away from teen-friendly pop-rock into more mature, rhythmic fare -- for effectively selling a song built around the idea that one might lose some wisdom upon the extraction of wisdom teeth. Did Miller just invent “dental pop”? Maybe. Either way, she’s blossoming into a star.
Jax Jones feat. Au/Ra, “I Miss You”
British producer Jax Jones pulls off two different percussive triumphs in new single “I Miss You”: the gentle clanging in the verses grabs the listener, and then the viscous thumping in the chorus forces them to move. Au/Ra makes for an impressive siren in one of strongest dance cuts in recent months.
I Love Your Lifestyle, “Car”
Allow Sweden’s I Love Your Lifestyle to transport you back to the yelp-y indie-pop of the mid-2000s with “Car,” a sunny anthem in which the group channels its emo ambitions into a killer sing-along: “No I’m not asleep/ My mind is still alive!”
Kississippi, “Around Your Room”
Speaking of indie-pop anthems, the latest single from Philly-based singer-songwriter Zoe Reynolds’ Kississippi project is a darn near immaculate interpretation of infatuation. Each 30-second chunk of the song soars higher than what preceded it, until Reynolds reaches a culmination of crashing drums and layered vocals. Play “Around Your Room” immediately to hear an artist reach greatness.
L.A. singer-songwriter Cait is a newcomer with an impressive vocal approach: on “Forgetful,” she glides over the lines that serve as connective tissue and lingers on the lyrics that pack an emotional punch, all as the acoustic-pop production keeps her story moving forward.