New Music Friday Graphic

New releases from some of the biggest names in pop, hip hop and rock delivered a mix of eclectic jams, ranging from simplistic but satisfying to unique and surprising Friday.

Up first on Friday’s playlist was Billie Eilish’s new single “Therefore I Am,” a forceful rejection of those who would try to use her fame for a chance to be in the public eye. Lyrically, the track is a bit on-the-nose, featuring lines such as “I’m not your friend / or anything, damn,” and a nod to René Descartes’ famous philosophical utterance “I think, therefore I am.”

Musically, this track is pure Eilish — it has a deep, pulsating beat, heavy bass presence and a mix of hushed, raspy singing and flatly spoken verses. While it’s not particularly imaginative or notable among the talented young singer’s discography, “Therefore I Am” follows a formula that’s been wildly successful for Eilish, and it is hard to dislike anything she does.

Lil Nas X, the reigning king of country rap and avant-garde fashion, released his single “HOLIDAY,” complete with a music video in which the rapper is dressed as what could best be described as a futuristic alien Santa. Although holiday-themed, the track is considerably raunchier than your standard “Jingle Bells” or “Here Comes Santa Claus.” At one point in the song, the artist even settles a longtime debate among members of the LGBTQ community about whether he is a “top” or “bottom.” Overall, “HOLIDAY” is a fun and festive romp from an artist whose smooth voice and catchy bars are always a treat.

“Dance Monkey” hitmaker Tones and I, whose real name is Toni Watson, released “Fly Away,” a wistful anthem about feeling out of place and wanting to move on to bigger things. I enjoyed the track’s stripped down instrumentals, choral background vocals and calming yet uplifting vibe. As with most of her music, Watson’s incredibly distinctive, utterly unique vocals were the focal point of this track. Watson’s singing voice, which sounds like a peculiar blend of Ellie Goulding, Adele and Sia with a hint of Tweety Bird, might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Foo Fighters brought a funky twist to Friday’s playlist with “Shame Shame,” the first release from the rock band’s upcoming album “Medicine at Midnight.” The song’s dark, mysterious tone, smooth grooves and slow, steady snare beat — all topped with lead singer Dave Grohl’s smokey vocals — make for a stark but welcome departure from the band’s typical hard, grungy rock sound. I loved hearing the band explore a new, unconventional side of itself while taking in “Shame Shame’s” intense lyrics and groovy sound.

Pop/EDM crossover track “Be Somebody (with Evie Irie)” is musician and DJ Dillon Francis’ latest contribution to an ever-expanding global catalog of accessible, danceable electronic music. Although the song’s banal lyrics mine the tired and angsty “one day I’m going to get out of this one-horse town” trope, the track is saved by its appealing production and incredibly catchy melody that one cannot help but sway to. Irie’s deep, soulful vocals are also a highlight.

“Be Somebody” sounds like the song that would play at the end of a high school coming-of-age film when the main character triumphantly stands up through the sunroof of a moving car, hands in the air and hair blowing in the wind — but not necessarily in a bad way. I get the feeling it will be stuck in my head until at least Christmas.

Friday’s new music releases included some classically enjoyable tracks and some surprising gems that left me feeling sonically satisfied and ready for the weekend

Sarah Komar is the news editor for The Arkansas Traveler, where she previously worked as a staff reporter in 2019 and early 2020.

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