In light of the Jonas Brothers’ massive comeback run in 2019, it’s easy to forget how successful Nick Jonas’ solo career was during the trio’s hiatus: multiple top 20 hits on the Hot 100, a pair of top 10 albums on the Billboard 200, and a keen understanding of rhythmic pop that transcended a group setting. “Spaceman,” which precedes a new solo LP of the same name, updates Jonas’ lyrical focus with references to the 2020 election and pandemic, but his understanding of a killer hook hasn’t changed one bit -- once the drums kick in at the one-minute mark, you’ll be floating, too.
Post Malone, “Only Wanna Be With You (Pokemon 25 Version)”
Post Malone... covered Hootie & The Blowfish’s 1995 smash “Only Wanna Be With You”... for Pokemon’s 25th anniversary? Explaining this cover feels like a game of Mad Libs, yet Posty’s animated rendition will satisfy anyone searching for an updated, slightly synth-bolstered version of one of the most undeniable hits of the mid-‘90s -- he even swaps out Darius Rucker’s shout-out to the Miami Dolphins for a nod to his beloved Dallas Cowboys!
Chloe x Halle, “Ungodly Hour” video
Chloe x Halle just released the “Chrome Edition” of their great 2020 album Ungodly Hour, with a pair of new songs, “Hazy” and “80/20,” added to the track list. Both are worth your time, but it’s the long-awaited “Ungodly Hour” official video -- in which the sisters adopt a sci-fi setting while shape-shifting through eye-popping outfits and choreography -- that demonstrates how their visual artistry has been elevated in just a few short years.
Pop Smoke, “AP”
One year after the tragic death of Pop Smoke, his music -- both in the form of his stellar mixtapes and best-selling posthumous album Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon -- has traveled around the world and been streamed millions of times. “AP,” which will be featured on the soundtrack to Eddie Huang’s upcoming film Boogie (in which Pop Smoke made his acting debut), more closely recalls the grit and menace of Meet The Woo 2 than the pop polish of Shoot For The Stars, and once again reminds listeners of the late rapper’s range.
Madison Beer, Life Support
Longtime fans of Madison Beer have been waiting years for the pop singer-songwriter to fully arrive -- through various record contracts, sound iterations, and singles that hinted at what she could become in the context of the right project. Fortunately, Life Support delivers on that potential: Beer has developed into an impressive vocal presence, both on lilting ballads like “Selfish” and “Everything Happens for a Reason” as well as kinetic pop flare-ups like “Boys--t” and “Baby.”
Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
“Nobody revs me up, kicks my ass on stage, or treats me more like family than Miranda Lambert,” Elle King says in a press release heralding their new collaboration. “Our rowdy reputations proceed us, so who else could sing this song together besides us?” Indeed, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” makes for an enjoyable glass-raising anthem, but it’s the way that the “Ex’s and Oh’s” singer and country veteran complement one another on the track that denotes a longstanding bond, and an opportunity to listen in on their fun.
2KBABY & Marshmello, “Like This”
Marshmello understands how to arrange a song for maximum radio consumption -- clean hooks, straightforward structure, unfussy instrumentation, with one melody that’s ready to grab a listener’s ear. It’s often up to his collaborator to take the producer’s ball and run with it, and on “Like This,” Louisville rapper 2KBABY emphatically scores, offering his backstory and showcasing his mic persona while masterfully riding a guitar lick.
Julien Baker, Little Oblivions
Julien Baker's songwriting -- her showcasing of the minuscule details comprising her life and informing her sense of introspection -- will make any project she works on a must-listen; simply put, there are few artists working today with her stinging force. Little Oblivions, her third full-length, projects some of that intimacy upon a wider screen thanks to an expanded collection of instruments, but her portrayal of addiction, heartbreak and collecting shards of hope allow Baker to present her full, unabridged self to the listener.
Billboard Explains: Why Songwriters Are Selling Publishing Catalogs