This week pop music saw many unexpected sounds and unlikely collaborators. Louis Tomlinson distanced himself from a boyband image after leaving One Direction, Charli XCX reached across genre lines to show her skills as a savvy collaborator, and Camila Cabello delivered two fiery singles following her cryptic social media posts.
Louis Tomlinson — “Kill My Mind”
Breaking from his boyband image, Louis Tomlinson borrows conventions of both pop and alternative rock to create the driving ballad, “Kill My Mind.” The single is intentionally unlike anything Tomlinson has put out before, as he stated on social media. A thumping kick drum propels the song forward as Tomlinson confidently belts out each verse. An explosion of electric guitars and crash cymbals revs up a catchy chorus. The song steers into new territory for Tomlinson, but the singer is self-assured as the emotion behind his lyrical delivery is hard to miss.
King Princess — “Ain’t Together”
Rising pop star King Princess artfully combines a blissful guitar, perky keyboards, and a mellow flute on her latest single. The singer called upon Father John Misty to contribute a rolling drumline while her raspy vocals succinctly narrate the all-too-familiar position of being somewhere in between friends and lovers. “We say ‘I love you,’ but we ain’t together,” King Princess croons. “Ain’t Together” is King Princess’ fourth single ahead of her upcoming debut record, Cheap Queen, slated for release in late October.
Charli XCX — “February 2017” Feat. Clairo and Yaeji
Charli XCX continues to position herself as a pop mainstay while piquing the interest of indie music fans with the single “February 2017.” Following an onslaught of singles from her upcoming record, Charli called upon Korean DJ Yaeji and bedroom pop star Clairo for her latest single. “February 2017” reinforces Charli’s affinity for auto-tuned vocals over a simple-yet-punchy beat that crescendos at the song’s finale. Charli blends her poignant tone with Clairo’s sugarcoated pitch to create an electric anthem.
Camila Cabello — “Lair”
Smooth saxophones open to a low thumping beat on Camila’s first single from her new era. Camila delivers her lyrics in line with the song’s clapping beat. The single moves into an uplifting chorus sprinkled with reggae influences. “Liar” is a strong follow-up to her chart-topping track “Señorita.”
Grimes — “Violence” Feat. i_o
Following up to her 2018 single, “We Appreciate Power,” Grimes’ “Violence” is less apocalyptic-cyborg-soldier and more demonic-popstar-princess. Grimes’ signature drowned-out, breathy sound lends to an emphasis on the beat itself. The singer offers a subdued voice that lies somewhere in the hazy distance while swooning synths pulsates a stagnant beat. Grimes sings of an unequal power dynamic in the single, a dynamic she claims is about global climate change.
Post Malone — “Staring at the Sun” Feat. SZA
Post Malone released his highly-anticipated album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, and it saw some unexpected collaborations (i.e. Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osbourne). SZA’s feature, though, is less surprising. SZA’s resounding and unmistakable voice adds dimension to Malone’s vocals in the chorus. The song opens with the sound of a cassette tape inserted into a tape machine and a low, rolling beat thumps under Malone impressive vocal range. “Staring at the Sun” is Malone’s way of reflecting on his career while warning of the repercussions of focusing on fame.
Mahalia — “What You Did” Feat. Ella Mai
Mahalia crafts a swaying, snappy beat on her new single which speaks to coping with the emotional aftermath of an unfaithful relationship. “What You Did” pulls from classic R&B influences by sampling Cam’Ron and Juelz Santana’s 2002 hit “Oh Boy.” Mahalia plays off the sample and uses bright melodies while showing off her wide vocal range with rich vibrato.
Sofi Tukker — “Purple Hat”
New York duo Sofi Tukker’s new single begins gently then swiftly moves to a revved-up club anthem. The song’s repetitive and lyrics create a hypnotic pulse which blends over a snapping beat with a low electric hum. A whistle and claves color the digital beat with percussion. Sofi Tukker’s sophisticated voice lends to a feel-good tune that urges the listener to dance.
Conan Gray — “Comfort Crowd”
Gray’s bright vocals stand out with little support from instrumentals on his new single, “Comfort Crowd.” His soothing voice carries the song until full rhythm section appears at the chorus, boasting the addition of a luminous guitar and gentle crashing of a snare drum. With the song, Conan Gray affirms himself as pop music’s gloomy boy-next-door.
Tainy — “Feel It Too” Feat Jessie Reyez and Tory Lanez
Tainy’s hip-shaking single opens with a thumping beat that draws influence from his Puerto Rican upbringing. As the song progresses, Tory Lanez’s mature vocals bounce in line with the rhythmic and sensual beat. “Feel It Too” sings of finding a hopeful crush on the dance floor.
Some of the musicians mentioned are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music.