This is a huge week for boy (and girl) bands. The former members of Fifth Harmony are killing it solo. Following in the wake of Camila Cabello‘s massively successful debut album, Normani and Lauren Jauregui both released some new solo tunes this week, and fully reassured fans that they have what it takes to make it solo, too. Perennial One Direction tour openers and pop-punk princes 5 Seconds Of Summer dared to cover “Killer Queen” for the Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack, the gift that just keeps on giving. The biggest band in the world collabed with one of the biggest EDM artists in the world and dropped their first all-English single.
There were some excellent full-length releases this week, too. Robyn’s first album in eight years is earth-shattering and well worth the wait, Allie X dropped the last promotional single from her excellent new LP, and Kelsea Ballerini released a deluxe edition of her 2017 album with a new country-pop bop. Every Monday, Uproxx will round out the very best pop releases from the week. Listen to Robyn and dance your heartbreak away.
Normani, Feat. Calvin Harris, “Slow Down”
Formerly one fifth of Fifth Harmony, Normani released her follow-up to her first solo single, “Love Lies.” Maybe the song isn’t technically solo, because she shares it with Khalid — but “Love Lies” has been blowing up the charts since it was released earlier this year, and Normani is proving to be a pop powerhouse. Her mini-EP with super-producer Calvin Harris, released earlier this week, only adds to her star power. “Slow Down” is an R&B jam, with a sultry club beat that’s a perfect showcase for Normani’s excellent voice.
5 Seconds Of Summer, “Killer Queen”
I am not a rock purist. But as someone who has been needlessly questioned on my credentials enjoying a whole genre (“Oh? You like Radiohead? Name all of their songs in reverse chronological release order!”) and been stepped on or kicked by guys twice my size at DIY shows, I quickly learned that pop scenes tend to be more inclusive. Liking 5SOS’s pop-punk cover of “Killer Queen” is the kind of thing that would get me laughed out of my college paper newsroom, but hey, it’s good. Rock songs aren’t precious. Freddie Mercury is an icon, and the original “Killer Queen” is a favorite from the time I was a toddler in a car seat in the back of my dad’s car. The song is a classic, but anyone should be allowed to appreciate and play around with the song. It belongs to all of us. There’s reverence and love in 5SOS’s cover, and if you’re too uptight to hear it, I’m sorry for you.
Lauren Jauregui, “Expectations”
Hey, more solo Fifth Harmony! Not to make this about One Direction, but Jauregui was always the Zayn of Fifth Harmony. She has an incredible R&B voice, rich on harmonies and even more impressive solo. She’s got this raspy texture, a little bit Xtina, and makes the highest notes seem effortless. “Expectations” is her first solo single, and the guitar-driven R&B slow jam is a memorable first single for sure. Jauregui worked on the song with Kid Harpoon, who co-wrote most of the songs on Harry Styles‘ debut album (not to make this about One Direction again). Jauregui’s debut is impressive, and I can’t wait to hear whatever she has planned for her follow-up.
Ellie Goulding, Feat. Diplo And Swae Lee, “Close To Me”
Ellie Goulding is back! The English pop princess has had some features since her last LP, 2015’s Delirium, but it’s been a long three years waiting for her follow-up. 2012’s Halcyon remains a classic, and Goulding has always been great at crafting danceable, vaguely witchy bops. “Close To Me” is great, definitely more traditionally radio-poppy than most of her older stuff, but the Swae Lee feature is fun, and it’s well produced (hi, Diplo!). Hopefully this single means we can expect more new music from Ellie soon.
Robyn, “Ever Again”
Robyn‘s album Body Talk came out when I was a junior in high school. I used the album like therapy. When the boy I liked danced with another girl at the Model UN conference, I took off my H&M heels and danced around my hotel room to it in stockinged feet. I wasn’t exactly a heartbreaker, but that didn’t stop me from singing along to “Call Your Girlfriend” in my friend’s car at the top of my lungs. Honey is a little sadder and quieter than Body Talk, less the kind of album you want to dance around your room to and more the kind you listen to on a contemplative and healing late-night city walk. “Ever Again” is a bass-driven jam with that same kind of anthemic declaration against heartbreak that made me fall in love with Robyn all those years ago. Move your feet; dance it out! You will never be heartbroken again.
Allie X, “Girl Of The Year”
A Canadian bubblegum queen known for her songwriting and infectiously joyful voice? If you like Carly Rae Jepsen, you’ll love Allie X. Allie’s new album Super Sunset just dropped. In “Girl Of The Year” Allie is begging for attention from a lover. She sees herself on the verge of being replaced by “somebody younger, with longer hair,” but she asserts that she’s the one who deserves the all the love. Allie is an incredible storyteller, between the complex, doomed relationship rendered in this song to her work with other artists (she co-wrote five songs on Troye Sivan‘s excellent Bloom). This song, and Allie in general, deserve your attention. Call her girl of the year.
Kelsea Ballerini, “Fun And Games”
The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? ‘Cause she’s Kelsea Ballerini. (I kid, I kid.) Ballerini is her own artist, but there’s an obvious analogue to Swift’s earlier music in the way she blends pop melodies with country instrumentation and her reverence for both genres. “Fun And Games” is a song about a messy relationship — a merry-go-round of fights and reconciliations, break-ups and make-ups. Ballerini has broken out in a big way since the release of her album Unapologetically last year, and the new deluxe edition features “Fun And Games” along with a few other new songs. After “Fun And Games,” make sure to give her live cover of “Landslide,” also included on the deluxe edition, a listen. It’s a stripped-down, one-woman powerhouse rendition, half Stevie and half Dixie Chicks. It’s brilliant.
Steve Aoki, Feat, BTS, “Waste It On Me”
BTS is the biggest band on the planet right now. Following a massive US tour and a growing legion of American fans, it seemed inevitable BTS would release some music in English. (Apart from some phrases and sections of their songs in English, their lyrics are primarily in Korean.) The band’s collaboration with EDM superstar Steve Aoki is their first all-English song, and show off the band’s versatility, from RM’s rapping on the verses to Jungkook and Jimin’s sweet voices on the chorus. “Waste It On Me” is club ready and endlessly fun.