This was a great week for artists we haven’t heard from in a bit. Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber haven’t released new music of their own in a while (unless we’re counting their cameos in Lil Dicky’s “Earth”), but the two pop singers have reunited for a catchy, infatuated new summer anthem. Ciara, whose last record came out in 2015, finally released her new one Beauty Marks. Zayn released his first new track of 2019, a lovely cover of “A Whole New World” with newcomer Zhavia Ward.
Every week, Uproxx will round out the best new pop releases of the last seven days. Listen up.
Ed Sheeran, Feat. Justin Bieber, “I Don’t Care”
Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber make a great team. Sheeran co-wrote Bieber’s 2015 hit “Love Yourself,” and separately, they’re two of the biggest pop stars on the planet. “I Don’t Care” will inevitably join the ranks of “Thinking Out Loud,” “Despacito,” and Sheeran and Bieber’s countless other summer hits. It’s infectiously catchy, with a bouncy, breezy beat you’ll be humming along to for days. Despite the song’s title, the lyrics are sweet and far from apathetic. Sheeran and Bieber love their respective “babies” so much they don’t care about the anxiety, boring parties, or any of the small stuff.
Ciara, “Beauty Marks”
Speaking of being in love, Ciara has just dropped a whole album full of romantic R&B-pop bops. In the album’s title track, Ciara muses on her flaws, and expresses newfound comfort in her imperfections. Because nothing is really an “imperfection” when you’re loved unconditionally, and you both embrace the quirks that make each of you unique. “Beauty Marks” is a piano-driven showcase for Ciara’s flawless voice. Wedded bliss has never sounded better.
James Bay, “Bad”
Technically, “Bad” isn’t a new song as of this week — Bay has played it at almost every single show since last December, and it was a fan favorite even before the studio version was released. But no matter how many times fans have listened to live recordings, the studio version of “Bad” is textured and beautiful enough to fall in love with all over again. Over a soulful acoustic melody, Bay sings about a love he just can’t leave behind — he wants his lover so bad he shakes, he’s “bleeding out,” he “can’t go on.” His passionate voice matches the melodrama of the lyrics, making every emotional line punch even harder.
Carly Rae Jepsen, “Too Much”
Carly Rae Jepsen‘s long-awaited follow-up to her game-changing record E•MO•TION is finally out later this week. Each single from the album has been better than the last, and “Too Much” feels like the culmination of all her pre-released music. It’s a cathartic dance anthem about (you guessed it) having a head full of feelings and a heart full of love. Jepsen wonders if it’s all “too much,” and might scare away a lover — but if they don’t appreciate her ecstatic joy, that’s their problem. “Too Much” glitters with passion and confidence, and Dedicated is shaping up to be the can’t-miss pop album of the summer.
Zayn, Feat. Zhavia Ward, “A Whole New World”
Zayn Malik is a Disney prince. With his silky, melty voice and brooding sensitivity, the former One Direction singer really leans into the dreaminess with a new cover of “A Whole New World.” He transforms the Aladdin standout into a synth-y, contemplative exhale, showcasing the quieter beauty of his voice alongside those Disney-worthy power runs. Newcomer Zhavia Ward sounds like a princess on her feature, holding her own against one of the best voices in pop. Their harmonies are seriously gorgeous. The Aladdin and Jasmine in the movie had better watch out, because the song in the end credits is about to steal their thunder.
Teamwork., Feat. Nina Nesbitt And AJ Mitchell, “Afterhours”
As its title suggests, “Afterhours” is a fun, breezy summer anthem about loose late nights. Singer-songwriters Nina Nesbitt and AJ Mitchell trade verses over an infectious synth-pop beat, lamenting how they’re “sick of falling just to end up hurting” and just want to have a fun, no-strings-attached night. “Afterhours” is bouncy and catchy, sun-drunk and full of lighthearted summer spirit.
Kim Petras, “Blow It All”
“Blow It All,” Kim Petras‘ third single in as many weeks, showcases a new facet of the singer’s pop sensibility. Lyrically, “Blow It All” covers familiar terrain Petras’ fans will recognize from her other music — wild parties, hanging out with friends, enjoying your endless youth, the infectious energy of letting yourself get out of control. But melodically, Petras has been embracing a more hip-hop inspired sound lately. With its fired-off verses and swaggering confidence, “Blow It All” showcases Petras’ versatility as a performer and songwriter.
Charly Bliss, “Young Enough”
Charly Bliss‘ second LP Young Enough is a masterpiece. Every song is incredible, equal parts glossy and barbed, every lyric packed with emotion and catharsis. Any one of its tracks deserves to be on this list of the best of the week, but the centerpiece title track is a standout on an album full of them. On “Young Enough,” singer Eva Hendricks sings an entire bildungsroman over one unchanging chord. She sings of love that burns fast and leaves incredible destruction, and of the beauty of picking up the pieces and rebuilding yourself from the wreckage. It’s affectionate and gentle. If Charly Bliss can do this much with one repeated chord, who needs any of the others, anyway?
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.