2018 is drawing to a close, but we’ve got some great new pop music to shake up your best of lists. Benny Blanco, the producer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist behind some of the biggest pop songs this year, dropped an excellent first album. Zayn has a record coming next week, and released one last promo single, a heartbreaker of a ballad, to celebrate. Indie funk group Vulfpeck are back with another album of low volume grooves. But despite these big names, this week really belonged to indie up-and-comers. Some of the most exciting new artists in the genre released new tunes this week, building hype for albums that are sure to shake up 2019.
In the meantime, though, we’ve got all these singles to keep us warm. Every Monday, Uproxx will round out the very best pop releases from the week. Listen to Benny Blanco’s “Eastside” again, and check out these emerging pop stars before they’re everywhere next spring.
Astrid S, “Closer”
Norwegian singer-songwriter Astrid S has one of the sweetest voices in pop. Every word she sings is gentle and vulnerable, and “Closer” uses her voice to masterful effect. Astrid sings about infidelity and two people who can’t stay away from each other, despite how wrong they are for each other. She’s the other woman, but the song makes you empathize. The lyrics nail the thorny terrain of passion. You can’t help who you fall for: “When every part of me is reaching for you / With no apology? / I know everybody hurts / But this space, it makes it worse.”
“Closer” pairs a groovy, warm acoustic melody with danceable synths. You might not guess those sounds would mix well, but Astrid S makes brilliant music from dissonance.
Emmy Wildwood, “Everything Hurts”
Singer-songwriter Emmy Wildwood isn’t afraid to let you know how much she’s hurting. Wildwood sounds like a millennial Kate Bush — over some ’80s synths and jangly guitar, Wildwood sings like a hurricane, like she could knock the walls down with her voice alone. “Everything Hurts” gives a voice to the (often silenced) struggle of feminine pain. It’s a song that embraces brokenness — we find strength when others try and take it from us. “Broken hearts are so redeeming,” Wildwood sings, as a chorus of chanting “ooh-aah”s join her in the background, wincing but fighting through the pain to make something beautiful.
Zayn, “Good Years”
“I close my eyes and see a crowd of a thousand tears,” Zayn sings on “Good Years,” breaking a million hearts. The pop singer, formerly one-fifth of One Direction, is rarely this raw in his music, so “Good Years” feels like a punch in the gut. It’s a song about a fractured relationship — not a romantic one, necessarily, but with someone who understood you and saw you. Zayn sings about two people who let a fight get out of hand, who are suffering on their own but too stubborn to admit they’re sorry. Zayn’s solo music is often confident, sleek, and assured. “Good Years” is all of that musically, but lyrically it’s a vulnerable peek behind the curtain, at a guy who’s a little heartbroken but trying his best, just like the rest of us.