Charlie Puth - "Attention"
25-year-old singer-songwriter Charlie Puth has been experiencing a nonstop whirlwind of success since first gaining viral exposure on YouTube. With his 2016 debut album, Nine Track Mind, certified gold and birthing platinum-selling records such as "Marvin Gaye" featuring Meghan Trainor and the Selena Gomez-assisted "We Don't Talk Anymore," it is safe to say he's come a long way in a short amount of time -- even scoring three Grammy nominations for his Furious 7 collaboration with Wiz Khalifa, “See You Again.”
Now that the pop singer has spent several years navigating his way past the challenges that come with first breaking out into the music landscape as a young artist, he's showing how he's now further coming into his own, with his latest offering, "Attention," a polished display of his talents. As he continues to refine both his songwriting and his vocal delivery with each release leading up to his sophomore album, he also will be testing the waters of a demanding tour schedule again, joining Shawn Mendes' Illuminate World Tour this summer. While Puth had to previously cancel a slew of tour dates this past October and November due to being sick, these new tour dates and the building anticipation surrounding his sophomore album further proves how all too often taking a step back is integral to being able to take two tremendous leaps forward.
Pairing his new single with a trippy pop-up art installation in Los Angeles called The Attention Room, the singer explores the phenomenon surrounding receiving attention, an element of the human experience that everyone can relate to, process and handle differently. When talking about the inspiration behind the bass guitar riff-laden pop ballad "Attention," Puth explained the importance of countering the addictive aspect of social media with walks in nature, all while encouraging his fans to put their phone away from time to time. "It’s so important to realize your surroundings," the singer shared in a recent interview with People. "If we’re going on a hike and you’re running around trying to get in shape, smell the air in nature. You don’t have to always look in your phone. That’s the main thing." As he sings in the track, "You just want attention / You don't want my heart," there's a wisdom that comes with knowing the difference types of attention and their intentions, as well as when to walk away, shut the phone off and get lost in the real world.
Paramore - "Hard Times"
While Paramore has danced between their own variations of rock-infused pop-punk over the years, the consistency that remains is their infectious high energy and ability to always make it be about the music first and foremost. As they experiment with their sound, their personality never strays far from the picture, and their youthful demeanor is impossible to ignore. Paramore in the year 2017 is just as refreshing as ever, as exemplified by their new single, "Hard Times."
The group plays with polar opposites lyrically, pairing the somewhat somber nature of the song's concept with a drastically contrasting 80s-inspired midtempo feel-good soundscape. The song at times feels like a beautiful marriage between the Talking Heads and Blondie, with Paramore updating their sound effortlessly as they continue evolving over time. With "Hard Times" marking the group's first new material in four years, pairing the single with the announcement of their forthcoming fifth studio album, After Laughter, out May 11, Paramore is treading new waters with veteran skill and adolescent attitude. With the infectious quality of "Hard Times" inspiring a jump-on-the-bed and use a hairbrush as a microphone type of vibe, Paramore's new chapter is a testament to what can happen not only when you weather the storm, but when you let yourself dance in the rain as well.
Big Boi - "Mic Jack" featuring Adam Levine
Big Boi knows exactly what this year could use: a little disruption from the Boomiverse. With the announcement of his third solo project (titled Boomiverse), the rapper -- best known for his involvement in the iconic hip hop duo Outkast alongside Andre 3000 -- is gearing up to cause a problem, make a scene and get the dance floor moving simultaneously. The first single off off Boomiverse features none other than Maroon 5's beloved frontman, Adam Levine, and together the two expertly combine their talents, with "Mic Jack" as ruthless as it is polished and as funky as it is fierce.
With production handled by DJ Dahi and DJ Khalil, the powerhouse collaboration is a likely contender to climb the charts, with its catchy hook further seasoned by an onslaught of synths, commanding kick-drums and deliciously weird robotic effects, all tied together by Big Boi's familiar flow and commanding presence. The song also features a subtle nod to Michael Jackson, both lyrically and in its beat, with the Southern general and the pop veteran's chemistry together the song's strongest suit. As we've witnessed with Daddy Fat Saxxx's previous collaborations, such as with Phantogram and throughout the course of his two decades making music, his creativity truly knows no bounds and arguably is strengthened by whom he selectively chooses to work with and build off of. This track is no different, with Big Boi and Adam Levine both shooting for the moon and instead, happily landing on a dance floor showered by a disco ball's timeless shimmer.
Lana Del Rey - "Lust For Life" featuring The Weeknd
Lana Del Rey has finally broken her featureless streak, with The Weeknd being invited as the first official guest collaborator to appear on her discography. With the exciting news of her upcoming fifth studio album Lust For Life and her new single of the same name, the 31-year-old is gearing up to cast a spell on listeners once again. With her hypnotic and mesmerizing voice, the beloved singer draws inspiration from the 60s, as she and the Weeknd come together for an intermittent, layered duet.
The sensual track transitions lyrically from being a self-declared anthem offering sound wisdom to the likes of a fantastical daydream, with the song's storyline melting all together as it finds balance simultaneously. With Del Rey a master of stylistic quirks, with her idiosyncratic methodology arguably her strongest creative suit as a performer and a songwriter, "Lust For Life" invites that nostalgic-yet-futuristic quality she has long been reputed for as indie pop's hopeless romantic. With the Weeknd's skillful falsetto whimsically woven along with Del Rey's distinctive emotive vocal delivery, the charm their individual talents hold is amplified whenever they join forces. As details regarding Del Rey's album continue to reveal themselves, this captivating duet has us eager to see where the near-future will take us next, both for Lana and for the bigger picture alike.
Jillian Jacqueline - "Reasons"
While many are fondly referring to emerging country singer Jillian Jacqueline as a representative of the New Nashville, a pioneering title she is owning as her own with each new release, it'd be an injustice to not point out that she has been in it for the long haul. First exploring her interest in the arts at the age of 9, acting on Broadway as part of the Kenny Rogers' "Christmas From the Heart," Jacqueline later went on to score her first charting single in 2001, further securing her passion and destiny to pursue a career in music.
Since moving to Nashville in 2010 to pursue music full-time and begin establishing her career as solo artist, Jacqueline has been developing her artistry and perfecting her live show ever since. With the release of her first single of the new year, "Reasons," picking up where she last left off with her 2016 self-titled EP, as we get to know Jacqueline more through her music, it's undeniable she is not only a singer wise beyond her years, but also is only just getting started. As she consistently raises her own bar higher, with a dedication to only releasing songs of top-tier quality, her ability to balance her blatant honesty with unshakeable optimism -- as well as her knack for tackling themes we all can relate to with an utter coolness -- is helping separate her from the pack of the next class of country mainstays. Existing happily in lane all her own, drawing inspiration from her classic country roots and today's pop music landscape alike, Jillian Jacqueline's new single gives us plenty of reasons why we can't wait for her to release her long-awaited full-length debut album. Watch this space!