Courtesy of Carly Rae Jepsen, Kelsea Ballerini and FLETCHER, studying is out and dancing around your room alone is in –– or at least that’s my State of the Union after listening to this week’s New Music Friday playlist.
It’s a hit-or-miss weekend for pop, but hidden among the substandard songs are melodies sure to get you moving.
Demi Lovato and Marshmello didn’t impress me with “OK Not To Be OK,” the first collaboration between the two artists. The track’s EDM-club production is distracting – if not jarring – when paired with lyrics about feeling alone and without direction. While the underlying message is endearing, it’s still a pop cliche, and Lovato and her co-writers didn’t put a noteworthy spin on it.
More up to par in pop crossovers is “ok on your own” by mxmtoon and Carly Rae Jepsen. Saucy and stripped back, with subtle flamenco influences, the track is an empowering ballad about finding freedom in solitude after ending a relationship and wanting the other person to grow too. The delicate harmonies between Jepsen and mxmtoon make for pleasant listening and instant replayability.
In contrast with my general alternative music interests, I’m notoriously weak for female country artists of any era, and Kelsea Ballerini is no exception with her latest release, “hole in the bottle.” The track is, for lack of a single better word, adorable. I love the liveliness, I love the banjo and I love Ballerini’s syrup-sweet voice. The beginning of the track samples what appears to be a mid-century advertisement centered around the social and personal benefits of drinking in moderation. According to Spotify’s Storyline feature, Ballerini intended for the song to be a soundtrack for Friday wine nights –– and might I add, the gal has impeccable timing.
FLETCHER’s “Shh… Don’t Say It,” is modern-disco sultry, with a danceable beat and flirty lyrics. FLETCHER just wants to make out with no strings attached, and I support her for it. The chorus is particularly playful, with breathy vocals and lyrics like, “Not tonight, not tonight / Just save it / Shut your mouth, you like it when I— / Shh, don't say it.” If it isn’t clear already, this was the aforementioned dancing-around-my-room song.
Of Monsters and Men pleasantly surprised me with “Visitor,” the first new song I’ve heard from the Icelandic indie-folk band in nearly a decade. An avid lover of their debut studio album, “My Head is an Animal,” released in 2011, I was just as thrilled by “Visitor,” which exemplifies the band’s growth as well as heightened and matured techniques from vocalists Ragnar Þórhallsson and Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir. The track is more comparable in sound to newer works by The National than it is to OMAM’s older discography, but it still has the soul of songs like “King and Lionheart” and “Little Talks.”
While this week’s playlist featured bops, flops and everything in between, I think it has a little something for everyone. Cliche themes and lyrics aside, anything that gets me dancing these days has musical merit in my book.