New Music Friday is intense. Hundreds of songs drop from artists around the world, and you’re supposed to somehow find the best ones. It’s fun work, but it’s time-consuming — so we at Billboard Dance want to give you a hand. Each week, we sift through the streams and dig in the digital crates to present the absolute must-hears from the wide breadth of jams.
Well, it’s been a week. As “electionchella” extends into its fourth day, we’re taking occasional breaks from obsessively refreshing the news to soothe our anxious brains with a big dose of dance music. Is it working? Yes, it is working.
In addition to Darkside’s surprise drop of a righteous live set from 2014, this week we also got the release of the debut EP from Marshmello‘s favorite rising producer Papa Khan. But is there more? You bet there’s more. Let’s dig in.
Zhu Feat. 24kGoldn, “I Admit It”
Zhu has always had a penchant for darkness — a mood fully embraced on his latest, “I Admit It.” A collab with white-hot rapper 24kGldn, the track pairs ominous synth, unnerving bells and an incessantly ticking clock that doubles as a beat before the whole thing explodes into big-ass bass waves that sound like they’re emanating directly from Zhu’s fingertips. Another layer of dread comes via some big-ass guitar fuzz, which is pared back to showcase 24kGldn’s staccato delivery. Also: the song’s video features a fashion show in which the models wear pieces from Zhu’s new collection, which has a very Industrial Goth Goes To Burning Man vibe. Look closely for a cameo from model Slick Woods.
Shimza, “Calling Out Your Name”
Yeah, a lot of dance songs have come-hither lyrics about beguiling women who are referred to exclusively via pronoun. So does “Calling Out Your Name,” the latest from South African producer Shimza. Upon close listen, however, it becomes clear that the track’s lady in question isn’t just some sexy gal on the dancefloor, but the OG bad b–ch, Mother Earth, herself.
“She’s calling out your name like a wildfire, she crawls into your veins, feeding on your breath, until there’s nothing left but the bitter taste of burning regret,” 20-year-old Capetown-based vocalist Mikhaela Faye sings in reference to the destruction of the environment that we are currently bearing witness to. It’s heavy stuff, to be sure, and Shimza pairs the plea for action over melodic tech-house production with a truly scintillating rhythm that will hopefully get everybody off their butts and into action. “Calling Out Your Name” is the title track from Shimz’a new three-track EP, out now.
Catz ‘n Dogs & Gerd Janson, “Modern Romance”
Polish duo Catz ‘n Dogz pair up with Germany’s mighty Gerd Janson, and together the trio deliver a bassline you can fully strut around your house to. Over this, they layer swirling strings, piano stabs, someone whispering “freak, what’s on your mind?,” and sugary vocals about just wanting to know your body. Pure dance floor confection through and through, file this one to your exercise playlist right now.
Melé & Lazarusman, “The Panther”
Liverpool-based producer Melé makes his debut on Circus Recordings with his new two-track EP, The Panther. A collaboration with Johannesburg-based slam poet Lazarusman, the title track is an homage to a panther on the prowl, an animal which serves as a symbol for the apex predator vibe you yourself emit when entering the club so slinky and smooth, seeing “specimens to the left and specimens to the right.” Here Melé goes full throttle on his love for Latin beats, and to excellent effect, with the track whipping up a steamy, drum-heavy house vibe that makes us long for the days of the human jungle of a packed dance floor.
Rina Taniguchi, “Rockim”
Rising Japanese techno producer Risa Taniguchi drops her three-song Rockim EP, the title track of which sounds like a swarm of bees coming directly for your frontal lobe in the best way possible. Inflecting elements of bass, acid and her own kind of spooky voice repeating “rockim” over the hectic production, this is pure head-banging techno that delivers the kind of catharsis that every single person in the United States can likely use right now.
Oliver Heldens & Party Pupils, “Set Me Free”
Future house mainstay and eternal cutie Oliver Heldens delivers his tenth (!) original single of 2020 with “Set Me Free.” A collaboration with the always funky Party Pupils, the song possesses the same levity and joy that we imagine we’ll feel when this extended election is over and we can all go dance in the streets at a safe distance from each other. That’s pretty joyful! The track is out now via Heldens’ own Heldeep Records.