New Music Friday Graphic

With Ellie Goulding trying again for a big hit, The Killers making a comeback with former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, Rita Ora singing, and coronavirus infecting 156,534 people globally as of March 14, it’s been an eventful, and mostly bad, weekend.

Ellie Goulding’s collaboration with blackbear, “Worry About Me” mashes off-beat, lackluster vocals with an over-produced sound that makes the song a confusing, painful mess to endure. Some moments nearly nail the pop sound that Goulding seemed to have down on her 2015 release, “Love Me Like You Do,” but even blackbear’s verse doesn’t quite vibe with the production.

Goulding still hasn’t managed to top her 2009 release, “Lights,” which is the English singer’s highest-charting single on Billboard’s U.S. Hot 100. Last year saw a better attempt at a bop with “Sixteen,” released April 12, 2019, but “Worry About Me” really does make me worry, especially with Goulding’s fourth studio album set to be released June 5.

“Caution,” released by The Killers on March 12, is the first single from the band’s upcoming sixth album, “Imploding The Mirage,” set to release May 29. The Killers’ lead singer Brandon Flowers’s smooth voice is like a windows-down car ride, made even better by a strong feature from Lindsey Buckingham, former Fleetwood Mac guitarist, and by The Killers’ typical poetic lyrics.

cupcakKe’s single, “Lawd Jesus,” was just what I needed this weekend: just cupcakKe having fun. The single came as a surprise, with last year only seeing a handful of singles from the American rapper, the best of which was inarguably “Squidward Nose,” released Jan. 11, 2019. “Lawd Jesus” matches “Squidward Nose” in that there is no suitable time or place to listen to it, except everywhere and probably not more than twice in one day.

Rita Ora’s “How To Be Lonely” is boring, sweet and a little bit annoying. Her first single since “Ritual” (a collaboration with Jonas Blue and Tiësto), released May 31, 2019, “How To Be Lonely” is a just another track from Rita Ora, and that’s it.

Australian singer-songwriter Tones And I released two tracks Feb. 13, “Bad Child” and “Can’t Be Happy All The Time,” with both pairing her signature raspy voice with exceptionally emo lyrics. By its bridge, “Bad Child” ends up sounding nearly identical to the bridge in “The Kids Are Coming,” the first of the six tracks on Tones And I’s debut EP of the same name released Aug. 30, 2019. Beyond its similarity to “The Kids Are Coming,” “Bad Child” pulls no punches, with Tones pouring her heart into every line.

“Can’t Be Happy All The Time” showcases some slower stylings, coming as a departure for Tones, who landed at No. 3 on Billboard’s U.S. Dance/Mix Show Airplay in February 2020 with “Dance Monkey,” originally released May 10, 2019, though “Dance Monkey” has some gothy vibes to it, too.

On a slightly heavier note, Damien Rice released his cover of Sia’s “Chandelier” this weekend – originally released by Sia on March 17, 2014 – six years since the release of Rice’s last studio album, “My Favourite Faded Fantasy.” Although a sad-spun cover of one of Sia’s songs is hardly original (even the sad clown “Puddles” did one of “Chandelier” in 2014), Rice’s voice is so darn sad that it makes me hope he might make a bigger return to the music scene soon.

Aurora’s solo version of “Into the Unknown,” originally performed by Idina Menzel featuring Aurora, is a dreamy take on Elsa’s big number from the Nov. 7, 2019 release, Frozen 2, though it fails to bring new heights to the track and all but falls flat by the chorus.

Julieta Venegas’s release, “Mujeres,” comes months after the release of her eighth studio album, “La Enamorada,” released Nov. 22, 2019. With lyrics like, “Las mujeres se están rebelando // Los hombres no saben qué hacer,” or “The women are rebelling // The men don’t know what to do” in English, “Mujeres” is an effective anthem, especially in response to rising rates of femicide in Mexico, which Venegas underlines by singing “Va por Rosario // Va por Elena // Va por mis muertas,” or “For Rosario // For Elena // For the dead women,” with Rosario and Elena being names of two Mexican femicide victims in recent years.

This week saw a mixture of duds and jackpots, with many being instant-adds to my Spotify and others leading me to question their artists’ trajectories (I’m looking at you, Ellie Goulding).

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