Camila Cabello’s new single focuses on a small, intimate moment -- she tells her man to shrug off his ideas of an early night and stay with her -- but then explodes, as its titular phrase becomes the rallying cry of an effusive, sashaying choir. The gambit pays off, as “Don’t Go Yet,” which precedes Cabello’s third solo album, evolves into a giddy sing-along without betraying the personality that the pop star packs into each verse; and just like that, CC3 starts off on a strong foot.
Khalid, “New Normal”
After an ultra-prolific run around his 2019 sophomore album Free Spirit, Khalid has been largely quiet over the past 18 months, preparing a third LP that finally has its first single. Like “Better” and “Talk” before it, “New Normal” shrouds its pop appeal in subtle melodies and vocal maneuvers, but ends up swirling around your mind after a few listens, the R&B arrangement slowly opening up to a hazy dance pattern as synths and trap beats coalesce around Khalid’s croon.
Lil Nas X feat. Jack Harlow, “Industry Baby”
The three singles that Lil Nas X has so far released in 2021 demonstrate the breadth of his skill set as a musical tactician: if “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” was his irresistible top 40 pop hit and “Sun Goes Down” his reflective, ultra-personal mid-tempo ballad, “Industry Baby” is his swagged-out, expertly crafted rap anthem, all braggadocio and big horns. Jack Harlow stops by to serve an assist, but this is Nas’ show, telling his doubters to go kick rocks while just one song removed from doubting himself.
The Kid LAROI, F*ck Love 3: Over You
Anyone who’s been paying attention to the pop charts over the past year knows that The Kid LAROI has been all over them, establishing himself as a multi-format force on songs like “Without You” and the new Justin Bieber team-up “Stay.” The latter is included on the seven-song “final installment” of LAROI’s F*ck Love project, which thankfully sounds more fleshed-out and vital than a cash-grabbing deluxe edition: tracks like the trap-drenched piano ballad “Over You” and the snappy, surprisingly sweet pop track “Still Chose You” with Mustard showcase the new star’s continued growth.
Lorde, “Stoned at the Nail Salon”
Whatever style or mood she’s operating in, Lorde can be counted upon to imbue every lyric with the utmost care -- but her talents as a songwriter truly shine when the production is peeled back, as it is on new Solar Power song “Stoned at the Nail Salon.” The hypnotic folk track allows the New Zealand star to ponder the passage of time and changing desires while also understanding that these questions might be fleeting themselves: “'Cause all the beautiful girls, they will fade like the roses / And all the times they will change, it'll all come around,” she sings, before shrugging, “I don't know / Maybе I'm just stoned at the nail salon.”
Swedish House Mafia feat. Ty Dolla $ign & 070 Shake, “Lifetime”
After previewing their comeback era last week with “It Gets Better,” Swedish House Mafia sound like they’ve fully returned on new single “Lifetime,” a sweaty, mesmerizing dance gem featuring Ty Dolla $ign and 070 Shake. While Ty sounds reliably self-assured over the stuttering beats and laser beams, 070 Shake crushes this mainstream opportunity, handling the hook and chopped-up interlude with the type of precision fans got to hear on last year’s Modus Vivendi.
Leon Bridges, Gold-Diggers Sound
Leon Bridges has long been regarded as a highly gifted R&B artist, capable of using his buttery tone to recall simple beauties from music generations past, but third album Gold-Diggers Sound offers something more urgent, and ultimately more satisfying. Bridges prods at a number of ideas here -- memory, injustice, self-loathing and the search for peace -- that are far more complex than the simple delights of his 2015 debut Coming Home, but as a result, we feel closer to Bridges, and Gold-Diggers Sound is a peek behind the technical skills that reveals a soulful, fascinating human being.