“34+35” was already one of the explicit standouts from Ariana Grande’s Positions album, allowing the pop superstar to express her sexual freedom while hitting the top 10 of the Hot 100. With this new remix, Grande has called upon two masters of the double entendre: Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion both cruise over the beat and offer some righteous witticisms in their verses, while also each referencing the desire to keep their neighbors up.
Selena Gomez, “De Una Vez”
Last year, Selena Gomez reflected on her success with her Rare album in a Billboard interview, while also stating that she planned to “challenge” herself on her next project. “De Una Vez,” Gomez’s first Spanish-language song in nearly a decade, certainly delivers upon that ambition: whether or not the song previews a larger project, its understated beauty (the track was co-produced by Latin pop powerhouse Tainy) gives Gomez’s 2021 an intriguing start.
Zayn, Nobody Is Listening
After bursting through the gate at the start of his solo career in 2016 with the No. 1 smash “Pillowtalk,” Zayn broke away from the mainstream with his challenging 2018 sophomore album, Icarus Falls. Nobody Is Listening re-centers Zayn’s artistry, prodding more forcefully at the edges of R&B while also keeping the emphasis on his vocal gifts. Moments like his falsetto at the end of “Outside,” or his grooving Syd collaboration “When Love’s Around,” are good reminders of Zayn’s artistic power.
Juice WRLD & Young Thug, “Bad Boy”
The final music video Juice WRLD filmed before his untimely death in December 2019 was for “Bad Boy,” a team-up with Young Thug that nods to the Will Smith-Martin Lawrence film franchise in the opening line of the hook. Over a cinematic beat provided by Pierre B’ourne, the pair find a cadence that splits the difference between their respective flows, and the feat of timing makes for an exciting listen.
Joshua Bassett, “Lie Lie Lie”
The star of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Joshua Bassett now has a considerable amount of attention on his new single, thanks to the runaway success (and ambiguous lyrics) of his co-star, Olivia Rodrigo. “Lie Lie Lie” is an angry piece of songwriting -- Bassett sings “I’ll kiss your ass goodbye” to the one who has betrayed him -- but demonstrates a pop-rock talent, and ability not to mince words in his music.
As DaBaby’s remix of Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” continues to climb the Hot 100, the Charlotte rapper uses new single “Masterpiece” as a way to reassert his dominance in mainstream hip-hop -- and quell any speculation that he “went pop.” DaBaby possesses one of the most kinetic flows in modern rap, and in a song focused on his new romantic partner, he makes the listener hang on every boast and compliment.
Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage”
Blake Shelton sounds downright reinvigorated on “Minimum Wage,” his new single which extols the idea that love really does not cost a thing: the track bounces happily into anthem territory as the country veteran turns “Your love is money!” into a refrain to joyfully sing out to a beloved partner. After “God’s Country” kicked off Shelton’s mid-career renaissance, “Minimum Wage” sounds like it could bring in even more casual fans, as well as give the diehards something to shout along with for months.
Lana Del Rey, “Chemtrails Over The Country Club”
While no one is adept at provoking online chatter quite like Lana Del Rey, the same goes for creating dreamy, elegant pop with a haunting aftertaste. “Chemtrails Over The Country Club,” the title track from the singer-songwriter’s forthcoming album, contains the same type of quiet grace that Del Rey displayed on previous track “Let Me Love You Like a Woman,” and keeps anticipation high for her next opus.
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