This week, Lady Gaga, Little Mix, and a band possibly fronted by Kylie Jenner proved themselves capable of releasing some serious jams. Check out the very best music of the week below, and be sure to listen to the Spotify playlist at the end of this post.
1.) Heavy Hitters
Little Mix, the group that won the X Factor UK in 2011, is attempting to break into the states with “Shout Out to My Ex,” a full out romp that starts with vocal percussion and a soulful verse. As the song builds, more mainstream production elements (heavy bass, a hollow kick drum) push it forward to an anthemic chorus over guitar strums. Outside of a pending plagiarism accusation, the song has an edge that should sit well with an American audience.
Speaking of romps, Lady Gaga’s “A-YO” is a fun throwback to her roots, pulling from Americana, rock, and country to produce a clap-driven dance jam. “A-YO” tracks closely to the rock vocals that the artist used to record under her own name, including the chorus from “Fever” as performed by way back in 2006. That’s a good thing, as Gaga’s strong roars come off as incredibly authentic, tied back to where the artist began cultivating her unique identity.
2.) On the Verge
Terror Jr, the lovechild of Felix Snow (the producer who shaped the glitchy sounds of Kiiara’s “Gold”) has previously been covered multiple times on this blog. “Super Powers” continues the theme of “Gold”—incredibly produced music that distorts vocals for the sake of making total jams. Felix Snow has teased that “our current infatuation with manipulating vocals to sound like a computer and vice versa—which is 100% integral to everything I’m doing now, [T]error [J]r, Kiiara, etc. –is the first tiny step towards the computer doing all of the singing.” Although that idea might sound terrifying to many, “Super Powers” continues to prove that Snow may be on to something. The song has been released in promotion of Terror Jr’s aptly titled Bop City. The fact that the album has fresh, mechanical pop hooks combined with the rumor that Kylie Jenner might be the mysterious lead singer of the band will ensure that this group could take off in no time.
3.) The Newcomers’ Debuts
After producing huge hits for the likes of B.o.B. (“Airplanes), Rihanna (“Love the way you lie”), and Imagine Dragons (“Radioactive”), Alex Da Kid surprises with an acoustic debut single, “Not Easy.” The tune aims for simplicity, with the voices of X Ambassadors, Elle King, and Wiz Khalifa tightly harmonizing on the song’s chorus, and a thumping drum and clap that give the song some Americana energy. Lending to the acoustic feel of the song, Elle King laughs at the end, commenting “please don’t show ever show anyone that.” The song comes off as a diamond in the rough, like a deep cut from an intimate studio session.
Ella Vos’ debut single is an effervescent, thinly-produced track supported by the female singer’s soft vocals. Vos’ airy voice echoes throughout an atmospheric space, but solidifies to connect with a major pop hook of a chorus: “’Cause it’s all white noise swallowing me / Maybe we’ll know why eventually.” The song borrows a bit from Felix Snow’s production of Terror Jr, using distorted vocals to artfully fade in and out of the background. An interlude towards the end highlights backwards piano sounds, building up contrast before the final chorus.