Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Lorde returns with a bright new song after four years.
It’s been four years since we got new music from Lorde, and she seems happy. That’s enough to make us happy, too.
After vanishing almost entirely from the public eye in 2017, the New Zealand singer-songwriter has only been heard from on a few sporadic occasions. Understandable: it’s probably difficult to write or share new music from Antarctica, where Lorde spent part of her hiatus.
From one extreme to another, Lorde released “Solar Power” with little fanfare or promotion. Appropriately, she opens the track with, “I hate the winter, can’t stand the cold.” Too dreamy to necessarily be a summer jam, “Solar Power” is largely acoustic, with an even dreamier music video. In the joyful visual, Lorde and friends gather on the beach, the epitome of unbothered.
Unsurprisingly, “Solar Power” reunites Lorde with trusted collaborator Jack Anotonoff, who stays booked and busy, but the song is a marked departure from her previous discography. It’s light, bouncy, and nonchalant. Known for her introspective lyrics and innovative production choices, she has chosen to return to the scene decked in yellow and grinning at the camera.
Who would’ve expected that a Lorde collaboration with Clairo and Phoebe Bridgers (who provided backing vocals) could be so…happy? The thing is, none of us are the same as we were four years ago. Lorde is no exception.
— Mary Siroky
Jon Batiste – “Freedom”
Anyone who’s attended a Black Lives Matter protest knows that there’s just as much dancing as there is chanting at the events. With his latest single, “FREEDOM,” Jon Batiste pens an ode to the magic of grooving as a form of liberation. Over uptempo drumming and marching band horns, he shouts out the shake, the wobble, and every move in between that brings a smile to his face. “When I move my body like this, I don’t know why but I feel like freedom,” he sings, drawing out the last word like he’s wringing every last drop of joy from it. Take a look at the ecstatic music video — it’s impossible not to bust a move and join in.
— Nina Corcoran
Marina – “Venus Fly Trap”
Not only is “Venus Fly Trap” one of the biggest bops from Marina’s excellent Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land album, out today (June 11th), it’s the pop star’s statement of purpose. “Don’t underestimate me ‘cause one day you’re gonna see/ You’re in a losing battle, babe, you’ll never stop me bein’ be,” she declares on the crescendoing chorus. In case you need further proof she refused to “play the game for the money or the fame,” there’s the track’s campy music video, which sees the singer inhabit a number of classic film tropes — from silent movie star to B movie horror flick chick — before quite literally burning down the Hollywood sign. A full album removed from laying her Marina and the Diamonds persona to rest, the singular Welsh pop star has never made it more clear who holds the power and the reins of her sound, her image, and her entire career.
— Glenn Rowley
HONNE, Pink Sweat$ – “WHAT WOULD YOU DO”
UK electro-soul duo HONNE may be treading on familiar pop territory with “What Would You Do?”, but the resulting jam is a perfect example of what makes their music special. Complete with a standout verse from fast-rising crooner Pink Sweat$, “What Would You Do?” takes the age-old concept of “the world could end at any moment, so seize the day!” and dresses it in a fine, velvet suit.
HONNE take their time to construct a hypnotic groove tinged with‘70s disco and ‘90s hip-hop, never losing their signature touch of cool romanticism. And if the track is smoothly commanding us to “tell someone you love them before it’s too late,” then HONNE are just making it easy. The song certainly marks a more carefree, euphoric era for the duo, and it’s one that will keep us living in the moment.
— Paolo Ragusa
Laura Stevenson – “State”
In the time since her 2019 album The Big Freeze, Laura Stevenson has endured a great deal of personal upheaval, both beautiful and devastating; around the time that she became a first-time mother, someone close to her was nearly killed. On “State,” the lead single from Stevenson’s upcoming self-titled album, the Long Island musician echoes these simultaneous highs and lows as she grapples with life’s bittersweet futility.
The track flits between quieter moments and bursts of fury, with Stevenson’s voice seamlessly wavering from a gentle coo to a cathartic belt. “I become rage, a shining example of pure anger/ Pure and real and sticky and moving and sweet,” she sings, letting the words flow out of her as though she’s finally accepted the possibility of being it all at once.
— Abby Jones
Lucy Dacus – “Brando”
After releasing a string of excellent singles for her upcoming LP, Home Video, Lucy Dacus returns with “Brando,” a track that epitomizes her knack for reflective storytelling and emotive instrumentation. Referring to an old friend who projected his own obsession with film and “classic Hollywood” onto Dacus, she ruminates on their one-sided relationship: “You called me cerebral/ I didn’t know what you meant/ But now I do. Would it have killed you/ to call me pretty instead?”
Even though that trace of disappointment runs throughout the track, Dacus provides a sense of clarity with her candid lyrics and lively acoustic guitars. She expresses a need to be recognized for who she is, rather than who this person had wanted her to be — and in doing so, reclaims her sense of self and point of view. Looking back on old relationships is never easy, but Dacus always seems to find a way to look back while sprinting forward.
— Paolo Ragusa
Jam & Lewis, Mariah Carey – “Somewhat Loved (There You Go Breakin’ My Heart)”
For “Somewhat Loved,” the first single of their debut album, legendary songwriting and producing team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis enlisted none other than Mariah Carey. It may have been decades since the duo last collaborated with the Elusive Chanteuse — they produced the bulk of 1999’s Rainbow and 2001’s Glitter — but ten seconds into the track, it’s evident the pair’s magic chemistry with the icon is still there. Mariah delivers a mournful vocal over Jam & Lewis’ blissed out production, transporting Lambs back to a bygone era before sending the song up to the rafters with her ageless whistle tone adlibs.
— Glenn Rowley
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