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, The Weeknd successfully leaves us breathless.
“Take My Breath,” the latest from The Weeknd, confirms it: the disco resurgence that’s been permeating the airwaves since early 2020 isn’t going away any time soon.
Over the past year, smashes like Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia and beloved collections like Jessie Ware’s What’s Your Pleasure? have leaned into the sounds and aesthetics of a sparkling dance floor. Even as recently as last week, Silk Sonic shared yet another track that doesn’t shy away from the ’70s energy — and why should they? BTS said it: disco overload? I’m into that.
It’s genuinely nice to see The Weeknd return, seemingly settled into his sound with confidence. “It’s the album I’ve always wanted to make,” he told GQ of his upcoming LP, which many are speculating to be a thematic successor to 2020’s explosive After Hours. That album in particular led to The Weeknd experiencing one of the most egregious oversights in the history of The Grammys — a baffling exclusion across the board that led to extreme fallout and a promise on the artist’s part that his work would never be submitted to The Academy again.
Let us join the chorus of voices insisting The Weeknd is a powerful, innovative voice in pop right now, and his influence matters. With “Take My Breath,” he proves that he doesn’t intend to cave inward or acquiesce to what negative, external forces might be telling him. He knows what he’s good at, and he’s going to keep making the art he believes in. “Take My Breath” is pulsing, almost dizzying in its dance-floor intensity from start to finish, leaving the listener appropriately breathless. Get swept up in the sound while we wait for all that comes next.
— Mary Siroky
FRAMES – “Brewery”
Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, FRAMES, an upstart emo pop band led by vocalist/guitarist Sarah Phung, is one to watch. “Brewery” is a standout track from their upcoming album, Every Room, which you can expect to be full of catchy, cheerful-sounding tunes that deliver a gutpunch when you take a closer listen to the lyrics. Self-described as a “good fun pop tune about sex and crying,” the track is inspired by Phung’s brief fling with a friend. The lyrics recall the frustration of trying to fix someone who isn’t ready to open up yet. “I wish you would let me hold you tight,” Phung pleads. “I hate being in the dark.” — Eddie Fu
Victoria Monét – “Coastin'”
Sometimes, it seems crafting pop hooks comes as easily to Victoria Monét as breathing. A gifted songwriter in the genre, she’s known for her hits with close pal Ariana Grande, Chloe x Halle, Blackpink, and so many others — in her own music, too, she also knows her voice well. “Coastin'” is her latest solo release, and it’s a bouncy mid-tempo, settled in the lower register her warm vocals. It’s playful and flirtatious, and lines like, “Tell me baby, baby, what’s your sign?/ ‘Cause you’re astronomically fine,” carry as much of the throwback, early 2000s energy of the track as the production does. It’s the perfect addition to a dreamy late-summer playlist. — M.S.
Allison Ponthier – “Faking My Own Death”
The title track of Ponthier’s new EP, is a brilliantly subdued example of her unique country-inflected pop. Advancing upon themes laid out in previous songs “Cowboy” and “Hell Is A Crowded Room,” “Faking My Own Death” finds Ponthier seeking refuge in rapid change and “diving in head-first.” She sings without any semblance of regret, plainly apologizing in the track’s opening line and laying out in the first verse that “the only promise I can make is I’m changing all my plans, and you’ll never see me again.”
Throughout the EP, Ponthier explores the consequences and effects of coming out, and “Faking My Own Death” is the cataloguing of every time she’s tried, failed, ran away, and tried again. Yet, it’s a wise and patient ode to transformation, and Ponthier’s crystalline voice provides a sense of assurance and comfort. After many, many iterations, Ponthier sounds like she’s right where she belongs. — Paolo Ragusa
KABBA – “Rather Be Single”
KABBA may only be 26, but she’s channeling the delicious vocal R&B-pop of the mid-2000s with her latest single. Fresh off her self-titled 2020 debut, the singer is back with “Rather Be Single,” an empowerment anthem all about choosing herself over forcing a pear-shaped diamond on her finger for the sake of pleasing a man. “I ain’t gotta force it if it ain’t like that,” she declares over a slinking, vintage beat, adding, “Cause if I gotta give my heart to this guy and that guy/ I don’t wanna play no part/ I’m too tired, too tired/ You know it takes a while to let down my guard/ ‘Cause every time I let it, I fall so hard/ Yeah I fall so hard, if I gotta go this far then/ I’d rather be single.” It’s a reality check for the lovestruck masses, and all we have to say is girl, preach. — Glenn Rowley
Strand of Oaks – “Jimi & Stan”
As Strand of Oaks’ Tim Showalter seems to say, one of the most fulfilling ways to mourn a loved one is to imagine them enjoying their time in heaven with those who have preceded them in death. The singer-songwriter’s new single, “Jimi & Stan,” isn’t your average mourning anthem, though. Following the passing of his beloved pet, Stan the cat, Showalter soothed his heartache by imagining his four-legged buddy partying with none other than another late hero of his, Jimi Hendrix.
“Jimi and Stan in heaven/ Making friends, going to shows,” Showalter sings over a soaring, stadium-sized Americana instrumental. “In my dreams I just hope they’re having a blast.” It’s a comforting sentiment for those riding out the pain of death in any mode, but Showalter brings up a point worthy of consideration: What relationships do we have that could even compare to the love of our pets or the adoration of musicians we’ll never meet? — Abby Jones
Pink Siifu feat. Maxo – “Call the Bro (Tapped In)”
True to its title, Pink Siifu’s new album GUMBO’! is a melting pot of influences ranging from Nirvana to the Dungeon Family to Prince. Although the project is best heard as a full body of work, “Call the Bro (Tapped In)” demands particular attention. Soulful production courtesy of Foisey and Butch Brown is met with a welcome appearance from LA rapper Maxo, who effortlessly delivers lines like, “We swerving through evil/ No Ls like I’m driving illegal.” As a contrast, Siifu grabs fans’ attention with a twisting, raspy flow. Though the densely packed lines make it difficult to catch every word, his verse is memorable nevertheless. As the beat rides out, listeners are left to ponder what it means to actually be free. — E.F.
glaive – “1984”
Hyperpop prodigy glaive is starting to move offline. “1984,” the opening track from his second EP all dogs go to heaven, finds glaive in a decked-out LA studio with established hitmakers Nick Mira and Whethan. Both collaborators burst onto their respective URL music scenes as teenagers before making their way towards a more IRL stardom, and on “1984,” glaive follows in this tradition, trading the DIY charm of his “older music” (he only started making music a year ago!) for anthemic production fit for sold-out stadiums.
Like any good hyperpop song, “1984” is loud, angsty, and draws upon a whole slew of different genres (rock, trap, EDM, to name just a few). The trap-heavy chorus feels like it’s constantly tripping over itself, matching glaive’s heartbroken lyrics and quavering delivery. For a while now, people have been saying, somewhat ironically, that hyperpop is the future of pop music; glaive is finally making that true. With “1984” and this new EP, he makes a surefooted step towards the mainstream stardom it now feels like he’s destined for. — Curtis Sun
Becky Hill & Ella Eyre – “Business”
Part “Independent Women” anthem, part Bechdel test put to music, Becky Hill’s new collab with Ella Eyre is here to remind men that not everything revolves around them. “You don’t need to know about my whereabouts/ Well, now you wanna see what you’re missin’/ “Sorry, that’s none of your business/ But I bet you wish it was,” Hill reminds the opposite sex in her throaty alto on the song’s party-ready chorus. These damsels aren’t in distress and are perfectly capable of handling their own business, thank you very much. — G.R.
Sara Kays – “Struck By Lightning (feat. Cavetown)”
Singer-songwriter and viral TikTok star Sara Kays’ latest song “Struck by Lightning,” featuring YouTube musician Cavetown, is a delightful piece of alt-pop about being unwaveringly loyal to a friend going through a mental health crisis. Here’s the scene: as a storm starts to brew outside, Kays’ friend lays on the pavement, refusing to shelter inside. Kays decides that if the friend won’t come back in, she’ll stay with them outside until both are struck by lightning. “What a way to go out/ Something this town will forever talk about,” she sings softly on the chorus. It’s a morbid thought, but sometimes only the darkest humor can encapsulate one’s love and lift the other’s spirits. — C.S.
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