In the beginning of the music video for “Stay,” his new collaboration with Justin Bieber, The Kid LAROI is trapped in one moment, the world around him literally frozen as he processes his messy romantic feelings. The Australian singer-rapper has been veering toward full-blown stardom -- his breakthrough single “Without You,” which hit the top 10 of the Hot 100 when Miley Cyrus hopped on a remix, certainly helped -- and the ultra-catchy ‘80s workout “Stay” sounds like it should push him to a new level; professionally, this is a moment he should absolutely be savoring.
Billie Eilish, “NDA”
As Billie Eilish approaches the release of her highly anticipated sophomore LP Happier Than Ever, she’s offered deviations from the dark-pop sound that made her famous, from the acoustic ballad “Your Power” to the jazzy anthem “Lost Cause.” Although “NDA” sounds similar to the standout tracks on 2019’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Eilish’s latest single is less a return to form than an extension of her pop approach: she sings about trying to lead a normal life as someone newly famous, with synth waves crashing against heart-wrenching Auto-tune.
Post Malone, “Motley Crew”
As the “lead track from a companion project to a forthcoming documentary,” as a press release describes, “Motley Crew” does not necessarily represent the full-blown return of Post Malone nearly two years after the release of his Hollywood’s Bleeding album. Still, Posty’s free-wheeling flow is welcome in any form after a notable absence, and on “Motley Crew,” he shakes some of the rust off of the pop-trap sound that he developed on Beerbongs & Bentleys, raising up a Solo cup and letting his voice gleefully crack while declaring, “We just wanna party, party, party, yeah.”
BTS, “Permission To Dance”
“We don’t need to worry / ‘Cause when we fall, we know how to land,” Jimin sings on the chorus of the new BTS bubblegum track, “Permission To Dance.” The world-conquering collective’s stock certainly isn’t anywhere closing to falling right now -- “Butter,” their previous release, logs its sixth frame atop the Hot 100 this week -- but “Permission To Dance,” a happy-go-lucky track about the healing power of music, presents a message of passion, as if the members of BTS will continue to embrace snappy cross-continental pop regardless of their future commercial fortunes.
BIA feat. Nicki Minaj, “Whole Lotta Money” (remix)
In an era of pop with copious remixes each week, it’s worth celebrating the perfect rework of a rising song arriving at the exact right moment. Case in point: Nicki Minaj’s amped-up version of Boston-born rapper BIA’s viral hit “Whole Lotta Money,” which allows the hip-hop superstar to flex her wealth over the straightforward yet booming percussion, while also avoiding upstaging the burgeoning artist by her side. Minaj pushed a hit higher with a remix last summer; could “Whole Lotta Money” become this summer’s “Say So”?
Masked Wolf, “Say So”
Speaking of “Say So,” Masked Wolf has unveiled the surprisingly sunny follow-up to his top 10 smash “Astronaut in the Ocean,” a two-minute romp with the type of hook that glistens on top 40 radio. The Australian singer-rapper broke through in the States thanks to a song with a dark, crunchy exterior that found a home on TikTok, and it will be interesting to hear how both fans and casual listeners react to a sequel this unabashedly upbeat.
Jennifer Lopez & Rauw Alejandro, “Cambia el Paso”
As Rauw Alejandro watches “Todo De Ti” become his first solo smash, he lends a timely assist to Jennifer Lopez, who dominates bilingual new single “Cambia el Paso” with swagger and carefully deployed vocal runs. Alejandro’s high-register croon provides a spark in the back half of the song, but “Cambia el Paso” belongs to J. Lo, as one of her most complete and immediately satisfying singles in recent memory.