Looking for some motivation to help power you through the start of another work week? We feel you, and with some stellar new pop tunes, we’ve got you covered.
These 10 tracks from artists like Rauw Alejandro, Shamir, Caroline Polachek, Portugal. the Man and more will get you energized to take on the week. Pop any of these gems into your personal playlists — or scroll to the end of the post for a custom playlist of all 10.
Portugal the Man, “What, Me Worry?”
It’s been five long years since alternative pop-rockers Portugal. The Man released its smash hit “Feel It Still,” but last week, the group released its long-awaited return single with the juxtaposing “What, Me Worry?” The uptempo track serves as a sonic wink, doing its best to convince listeners — with the help of sinewy bass licks, trumpet flares and the brief appearance of a tambourine — that despite what’s happening in the world, there’s not a thing to fret over. — Lyndsey Havens
Fantastic Negrito, “Highest Bidder”
The immediacy of “Highest Bidder” — which kicks off with drum rolls and guitar riffs, as if the listener were dropped into the middle of a recording session — illustrates the importance of Fantastic Negrito’s artistry. Each single is delivered with such urgency and potency to drive home a message he can contain no longer — and “Highest Bidder,” with its rapid-fire lyrical chorus, is just the latest and brightest example. — L.H.
Caroline Polachek, “Billions”
Caroline Polachek’s solo career is going swimmingly — her 2019 album Pang was one of the best-reviewed pop projects of the year, its single “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” has become a TikTok hit and she’s about to open for Dua Lipa on her arena tour. New single “Billions” is a testament to her ambition as well as her songwriting: the track shudders and evolves, climaxing with drum-machine blasts and a children’s choir, and potentially setting Polachek up for another big year. — Jason Lipshutz
Real Lies, “An Oral History of My First Kiss”
Midway through “An Oral History of My First Kiss,” Real Lies’ Kevin Lee Kharas breaks away from the beat and launches into a spoken-word account of the song’s titular phrase, beginning with “It happened on a main road, and I was embarrassed without really knowing why.” Thematically, the song evokes strong emotions for anyone who’s experienced that unforgettable rush, and the sonic effect also beguiles, recalling some of Mike Skinner’s more earnest work as The Streets. — Jason Lipshutz
Sharon Van Etten, “Porta”
Although the quickening drums and bright synths of “Porta” suggests that Sharon Van Etten is going full-blown pop upon first glance, the acclaimed songwriter is actually using that foundation as personal motivation: written during a difficult bout with depression and anxiety during the pandemic, “Porta” finds Van Etten gritting her teeth, letting her voice quiver and declaring “[I] want to be myself.” — J. Lipshutz
Rauw Alejandro, “Caprichoso”
Rauw Alejandro taps Jamaican producer Rvssian for “Caprichoso,” a taste of his upcoming Trap Cake, Vol. 2 album. Given the album’s title, it’s no shock that “Caprichoso” is markedly more trap-oriented than his last album, Vice Versa, but Alejandro’s innate knack for melody and his easy-as-an-ocean-breeze attitude should please new fans as well as those who were around for Trap Cake, Vol. 1. — Joe Lynch
Claire Rosinkrantz, “i h8 that i still feel bad for u”
Bedroom pop prodigy Claire Rosinkrantz leans into the guitars on “I h8 that I still feel bad for u,” mining the power pop-influenced vein of indie rock that had a moment in the ’90s. But her imprint is strong on whatever she touches, and “h8” never strays far from the wry sing-song quality that make her songs so sticky and rewarding. — J. Lynch
Shamir’s latest album, Heterosexuality, is his eighth — and according to what he recently told Billboard, this is the album he finally got right. He’s not wrong: Heterosexuality is Shamir’s best so far. Lead single “Cisgender” and standout “Abomination” demonstrate his thoughtful brand of ferocity, while album closer “Nuclear” shows off his ability to dip his toes into jazz-pop ballad territory, bringing to mind Bacharach/David or Getz/Gilberto. – J. Lynch
“Get a Good Look” by Sports
After a string of single releases throughout 2020 and 2021, Sports has released a proper project with Get a Good Look, the follow-up to 2018’s Everyone’s Invited. “Get A Good Look,” the new album’s title track, serves as an atmospheric closer and highlights the sonic range of brothers Christian and Jacob Theriot and Cale Chronister, combining psychedelic synth instrumentals with indie rock guitar work for an intoxicating effect. — Starr Bowenbank
“La Novela” by Boy Pablo and Cuco
Boy Pablo and Cuco are an indie dream team on “La Novela” — the Chilean-Noweigan and Mexican American singers, respectively, both let their lyricism shine on the track, telling the story of two lovers that are blissfully reminiscing on their shared love story, one that will remain both near and dear to their hearts for as long as they live. – S.B.