This week brought us an eclectic mix of singles and album cuts. We’re one week closer to the release of Maren Morris’ second studio LP Girl, and the country-pop singer dropped another solid track from the record. John Mayer released his first single of 2019, a mellow, softly strummed Americana track that will inspire you to fall into a John Mayer Spotify rabbit hole. (It certainly did for half the Uproxx Music team.) Kehlani’s mixtape, While We Wait, is a perfect selection of nine tracks to hold us over while we, uh, wait for her upcoming studio album. We’ve also got great new indie tracks from Finneas, Grace VanderWaal, Jesse Saint John, and more.
Every week, Uproxx will round out the best new pop releases of the last seven days. Settle in and listen up.
Maren Morris, “The Bones”
The third single released off Maren Morris‘ upcoming album Girl, “The Bones” is a steady, dependable track about a love that can withstand anything. It’s a little less flashy than the other singles she’s premiered from the record so far — “Common” has a star feature from Brandi Carlile and the album’s title track is one of my favorites Morris has ever put out. But “The Bones” is a great demonstration of Morris’ talent for blending pop hooks with country’s poignant storytelling. March 8 can’t come soon enough.
Kehlani, “Love Language”
“Love Language” may be the only song in history that’s a banger and sounds like a lullaby. Over a twinkling toy beat, Kehlani sings about fine-tuning how to communicate with a lover. “Love languages” refer to the ways people express and experience love in a relationship — some love to give gifts, and others shower their loved one with praise and words of affection. The actions a partner prefers might not always line up with our own, but the process of learning what kinds of affection and affirmation someone likes can be rewarding. Don’t worry, Kehlani makes it sound sexier than I do.
John Mayer, “I Guess I Just Feel Like”
If you’ve forgotten how great John Mayer is, let this be your re-introduction. Long before Ed Sheeran picked up a guitar, Mayer was the prototypical 21st-century heart-on-his-sleeve heartthrob. He may have made headlines for his celebrity relationships, but he won respect for his guitar genius and simple, poignant songwriting. “I Guess I Just Feel Like” is Mayer at his most down-to-earth and gentle, as he sings about trying to maintain hope in a world that’s desperate to crush it. The song ends with a killer guitar solo, and Mayer’s voice is sweet and optimistic throughout. He’ll embark on a huge world tour this summer, and although no album has been announced yet, this song and “New Light” would make some great lead singles.
James Bay, Feat. Julia Michaels, “Peer Pressure”
Queen of collabs Julia Michaels has delivered another great one. “Peer Pressure” is an anthemic romantic ballad about letting your guard down and falling for someone. Bay’s voice is expressive, alternately powerful and delicate, and his harmonies with Michaels sound lovely. While the song starts with sweet strumming and romance, it builds to massive pop catharsis. Everything Julia Michaels turns to pop gold, and “Peer Pressure” is no exception.
If you don’t know Finneas’ name, you probably know his work. The young producer and songwriter works regularly with Billie Eilish (his sister!), and his solo stuff is pretty great, too. “Claudia” has a slinky, snaky electronic beat and infatuated lyrics. Finneas’ airy vocals and the twinkling beat remind me a little bit of the xx, but Finneas is a singular star on the rise. He and Billie are slated to release their debut albums later this year.
Jesse Saint John, “Wiser”
Songwriter Jesse Saint John has worked with Britney Spears, Kim Petras, Charli XCX, and Camila Cabello, but he saves some of his most affecting work for his solo work. “Wiser” is a pop anthem with a hell of an existential hook. Saint John wonders if he’s “not getting any wiser” and is “only getting older,” and worries that he hasn’t been learning from his mistakes. Despite the melancholy of the lyrics, though, “Wiser” is danceable and fun. Saint John’s debut album, coming later this year, is called Don’t Stop Dancing. Life Gets Sad. Sounds like pretty wise advice to me.
Ellie Goulding, “Do You Remember”
Ellie Goulding‘s new track for the Fighting With My Family soundtrack is a soaring, stomping pop anthem. The singer — whose last album, Delirium, was released back in 2015 — had a hit in 2018 with Swae Lee on “Close To Me,” and she’s got another one with “Do You Remember.” The track has all the big, cathartic energy of her best song, “Anything Could Happen,” and it’s a great showcase for Goulding’s powerful voice.
Grace VanderWaal, “Stray”
Grace VanderWaal‘s voice has maturity and resonance beyond her 15 years. After winning America’s Got Talent in 2016 at age 12, VanderWaal has opened for Imagine Dragons and already secured her first leading film role (in the adaptation of Jerry Spinelli’s classic Stargirl). “Stray,” VanderWaal’s first new single of 2019, is dark and honest, as VanderWaal expresses the brutality of growing up. “I wanna feel the way I used to / I wanna move the way I used to,” VanderWaal sings, her raspy and powerful voice making you relive the horror of being young and everything changing beyond your control.