On the heels of Billboard‘s partnership with the streaming giant, we’ll be tapping Spotify’s editors to sift through the soon-to-be-hits and highlight the best of the bunch.
Check out the picks and listen to the entire “New Music Friday” playlist below.
Ed Sheeran – “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape of You”
Ed Sheeran finally makes a triumphant return to our #NewMusicFriday playlist, after taking a much deserved break from releasing music and actively utilizing social media. After boldly taking a break from Twitter for over a year and only sparingly updating Instagram, following a 5-year run of nonstop recording, touring and promoting his music, the English singer-songwriter has made his lengthy hiatus worth the wait for his eager fans, today releasing two new singles off of his highly anticipated third studio album. Considering Sheeran first began exploring his talents as a musician seriously at the age 13, his taking some personal time off further proves he is wise beyond his years, showcasing through his music how it is both beyond beneficial and exhilarating to recharge and seek new real-world inspiration every now and again.
“I find myself seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes, so I’m taking this opportunity of me not having to be anywhere or do anything to travel the world and see everything I missed,” he wrote on Instagram, prior to temporarily disappearing from the public eye. Before logging off, the 25-year-old teased that his album is “the best thing [he’s] made thus far,” and now that a taste of his forthcoming project has arrived, fans are eager to see how his promise is holding up – as well as find out the meaning behind that mysterious blue square he cryptically tweeted without explanation back in December 2016.
While Sheeran’s career accomplishments to date can fill a book, what arguably is most impressive is his ability to consistently reinvent himself, while also staying true to his vision and making the music he wants to make. On “Castle on the Hill,” fans are treated to what can be considered “classic Ed Sheeran,” as he offers a new powerful pop anthem that we can already imagine filling our car’s radio speakers every time we drive along the coast at dusk. With lyrics showcasing his growth and maturity as a singer, he reflects on the wild ride that brought him to where he is today, all while poetically taking the scenic route home.
Meanwhile, with “Shape of You,” he completely switches gears, delivering a tropical synth-laden ballad that unexpectedly shows off an intriguing sexier side to Sheeran, as well as displays his skillful control of his vocal range. While his two new songs are strikingly different, we don’t lose sight of Sheeran’s beloved charm and personality in either, something that not every musician looking to switch up their sounds can accomplish with such ease. Needless to say, we’re more than excited to see what the brilliant musician has up his sleeve next. Cheers to you, Ed, and welcome back!
Sam Hunt – “Drinking Too Much”
Sam Hunt is beginning the new year on an interesting footing, outing his deepest thoughts and celebrating his recent engagement simultaneously. His new single, “Drinking Too Much,” acts as both a genuine apology and an endearing love song, weaving the seemingly contradictory intentions together, crafting an open letter to his muse that curiously manages to expose his flaws in a way that embraces them.
He and his now-fiancée Hannah Lee Fowler have really been through it over the years, with the singer-songwriter owning up to his faults and past mistakes through brutally honest lyrics, wiping the slate clean as they look towards their bright future together.
The song is inspiring for those hoping to weather the storm with their current partners, with the couple acting as a living example that while love does not come without madness or hardship at times, there is undeniably a kind of love “you don’t fall out of.” With Hunt’s signature talk-singing approach paired with beautifully soft instrumentation, the deeply personal song proves the best way to embrace a new chapter is with an open mind and an open heart.
Snakehips – “Don’t Leave” featuring MØ
To give fans a first taste of their forthcoming full-length debut album, Snakehips, a British electronic duo known for working with Zayn Malik, Tinashe and Chance the Rapper, has recruited Danish singer MØ for their first collaborative effort, “Don’t Leave,” a dazed and dreamy testament to being both in love and perfectly imperfect. With blunt lyrics such as “But I’m not just a f**k-up, I’m the f**k-up you love,” MØ not only shoots her shot to convince her better half not to leave because of her flaws, but she does so through blunt lyrics that match her signature blend of grit and grace.
Considering the 28-year-old vocalist tactfully made a big impression in 2016, continuing to build off of the momentum from her mega-successful collaborations with Major Lazer, Iggy Azalea and Justin Bieber and beginning to establish her solo career, one could say that her linking with Snakehips makes perfect sense, with both anticipating to level up by releasing highly anticipated studio albums this year. If 2016 was the year both MØ and Snakehips proved they both are talented forces not to be slept on, 2017 is the year there’s no looking back.
You Me At Six – “Take On The World”
With the release of their fifth studio album, You Me At Six is entering a new phase in their career, one that is over a decade in the making. While the five-piece’s new project offers a refreshingly subtle change in direction, the group manages to occasionally stray from their renowned blend of pop-rock without abandoning their roots, much to the delight of their day-one supporters.
You Me At Six’s decision to experiment stylistically without completely reinventing themselves works brilliantly in their favor, as exemplified on their airy track, “Take On The World.” With frontman Josh Franceschi at the wheel, warm guitars help frame his passionate, storytelling lyrics, building into a pleasant and euphoric earworm that is as welcoming as it curiously infectious.
“‘Take On The World’ embodies the spirit of a band who have worked for 10 years to headline arenas and get to the top of their game and then keep working harder,” their manager fondly explains. “It also represents their ambition for this new chapter writing their best songs after years of success.” As we spend more and more time digesting their new album, we couldn’t have worded it better ourselves.