Best Songs We Heard This Week: The 1975, Ra Ra Riot, BJ the Chicago Kid + More
Happy Friday, everyone! Before you head out for the weekend, we've sifted through all the releases this week, including this rather packed New Music Friday, to find the worthiest of tunes for your eager ears.
Check out our staff picks for best songs below — and don't forget to subscribe to us at Apple Music.
BJ the Chicago Kid feat. Kendrick Lamar, “The New Cupid”
The R&B singer-songwriter (guess where he’s from?!) releases In My Mind, his first album since his 2012 debut, today. “The New Cupid” is a standout track, more than the sum of its already-formidable parts: BJ’s torrid vocals, a verse from Kendrick Lamar and a sample of Raphael Saadiq’s “Oh Girl,” which itself evokes Motown’s more smoldering, what’s-your-hurry numbers. You can slow dance to it, until you realize the lyrics mourn the death of romance: “Cupid’s too busy in the club / at the bar, rollin’ up / and if you see him, let him know / love is gone, I know I’m sure.” Like Alessia Cara’s Isaac Hayes-sampling “Here,” it’s the perfect blend of old and new. – Samantha Vincenty
The 1975, "Somebody Else"
Breaking up is hard to do — especially if you're still stuck dwelling on your former flame doin' it with somebody else. The 1975 have a hypnotic monster of a track on their hands in the form of "Somebody Else," the latest offering from their all-too-unfortunately titled new album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. Think a solemn, jealousy-fueled (and vaguely '80s-leaning) male answer to Robyn's sad Swedish disco stormer "Dancing On My Own," mixed with some of Drake's bleary-eyed 4 AM voicemails. "I'm looking through you while you're looking through your phone / And you're leaving with somebody else." Gutting, truly. — Bradley Stern
Plastic Flowers, “Diver”
The shoegaze genre is, admittedly, a largely homogeneous one: Most tracks can be summed up as “ethereal” or “atmospheric” — they rely on electric drums, layered synths and hazy guitar riffs to garner that “dream-like” qualifier, and Plastic Flowers is no exception to that rule. New track “Diver” incorporates all of those elements with real finesse: The vocals are equal parts warm and catchy, and the song’s fuzzy production value lends it a subtle element of sentimentality. Anyone who’s ever worked customer service at a store with a dream pop-heavy playlist like I have, beware: You may reflect on your retail days with uncharacteristic reverence upon listening to “Diver,” so enveloping (yet blissfully unassuming) is its nostalgic feel. — Ali Szubiak
We first fell in love with Sivik last year, when he emerged as a somewhat shadowy presence with work writing for Adam Lambert and Hot Chelle Rae under his belt. His latest builds on the brand of synth pop he’s cultivated (heavy on the synth), but it’s only gotten sexier with, uh, “Time.” – Samantha Vincenty
Ra Ra Riot, “Bad Times"
Leave it to the indie rock outfit to make a song called “Bad Times” inspire something jubilant. The track, a walloping offering from the group’s new Need Your Light, kicks off with agreeable garage band jamming before shooting for the moon at the first chorus’ pass. “Every time I feel bad I / End up on the wrong side / Yesterday was tough, I was having some bad times,” Wes Miles cries as beat-to-death drums deliver an arena context. Ra Ra Riot might have forged an identity playing house parties and college clubs, but, here, seem ready to shake stadiums. — Matthew Donnelly
Grace Mitchell, "White Iverson"
Pop flips on popular hip-hop tracks can often lead to eye-roll inducing, overly sanitized or, worst of all, "ironic" interpretations. Luckily, Grace Mitchell, one of our favorite up-and-comers, has gone and done the deed properly (and then some!) with an appropriately moody rendition of Post Malone's "White Iverson." Mitchell's take on the track contains the essence of the original, but adds on Janet Jackson "All Nite"-esque dance break beats and Banks-like atmospheric sound. It's remarkably grown...and she's not even 18 yet. — Bradley Stern
Teddy Sinclair/Cruel Youth, “Mr. Watson”
Teddy Sinclair aka Natalia Kills has assumed more identities than has ever been necessary for someone not involved in some sort of witness protection program. She’s volatile, wordy and a bit of a loose cannon — but Sinclair is also a decently gifted songwriter, and that’s what matters most in the world of music, right? Well, no, but it should count for more than it’s worth these days. Sinclair’s latest track “Mr. Watson” is an expertly crafted sonic homage that references both Amy Winehouse and Radiohead with an overtness that nearly borders on plagiarism. It scrapes by in the end on its own, though, as Sinclair laments, via her signature smoky vocals, about the kind of addictive, killer co-dependency that messes with every aspect of your life. — Ali Szubiak
Day Wave, "Stuck"
What begins with guitar-strumming suited for a Goo Goo Dolls heyday ballad gives way to warm, sunny tones Jackson Phillips told Billboard are staples of his latest project. A Berklee-trained jazz drummer and former Carousel-fronting electropop standout, Phillips’ “Drag,” a promising introduction to his forthcoming Hard To Read EP, spills over with breezy yearning and nostalgia that point directly to his fascination with Brian Wilson. Once resigned to telling fiction through song of fear of bearing his soul, he’s decided to be more forthright. “…with this I just thought, “Whatever, who gives a s---? I’m 25, why do I care what people think?’” he told the site. — Matthew Donnelly
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