This week’s new pop releases were full of surprises and highly anticipated releases. Julia Michaels’ Inner Monologue Part 2 finally dropped, and the second half is just as iconic as the first. She didn’t float down from the clouds to sing “Lights” to Lil Nas X, but Ellie Goulding has been releasing solid single after solid single, and her latest with Juice Wrld is no exception. Bad Bunny and J Balvin surprise released a whole album full of summer bangers, and Ed Sheeran and Khalid made a case for embracing your awkwardness.
Every week, Uproxx will round out the best new pop releases of the last seven days. Listen up.
Ellie Goulding Feat. Juice Wrld, “Hate Me”
The fourth single from Ellie Goulding‘s upcoming album is lyrically pretty different from everything she’s released off the project so far. On “Hate Me,” Goulding trades in her shining anything-could-happen for some dark, tumultuous romance. Over a pounding bass and drums, Goulding taunts a lover who hates her (or hates how hard it is to get over her). Juice Wrld has been pretty busy in the pop world lately, between featuring on one of the new BTS collab singles and this one with Goulding. “Hate Me” shows off Goulding’s versatility, and her next album can’t come soon enough.
Clairo, “Closer To You”
The second single off Clairo’s upcoming album Immunity is one of the most thrilling songs I’ve heard in a long time. Where Clairo’s previous single, “Bags,” was tender-hearted indie rock, “Closer To You” is buzzing electro-pop, lushly layered into intoxicating musical ASMR. As Clairo sings about a push and pull of complicated emotions, her vocoder-distorted vocals ebb and flow, and the synths press in. “Closer To You,” along with the rest of Immunity, was produced by Vampire Weekend alum Rostam.
Ed Sheeran Feat. Khalid, “Beautiful People”
“Beautiful People,” the latest single off Ed Sheeran‘s upcoming No. 6 Collaborations Project, is an anthem about staying down to earth. You’d think being a “beautiful person” would be a good thing, but Sheeran and Khalid define beauty as vanity, shallowness, and fame hunger. Being awkward might make parties an uncomfortable time, but being genuine and true to yourself is always the way to go. Sheeran and Khalid’s falsettos blend together beautifully — feeling out of place never sounded so good.
Julia Michaels, “Hurt Again”
Julia Michaels released one of the year’s best pop albums in two parts. Inner Monologue Part 2 continues the excellence set by Part 1. In her own pop career and in the songs she shares with other pop artists, Michaels has a gift for turning heartbreak into something beautiful. On the playful “Hurt Again,” Michaels sings of jumping into a new relationship. The bouncy melody makes for a fun contrast with Michaels’ pessimistic lyrics: “I can see the future, it doesn’t look pretty / I’m looking into your eyes / I’m ready to be hurt again.” Michaels knows how to write a catchy chorus, so good luck getting this one out of your head.
Bad Bunny and J Balvin, “La Canción
Bad Bunny and J Balvin‘s Oasis is the surprise album of the summer. The two Latin pop superstars’ collaborative effort is as iconic as you’d expect from the two reigning kings of collaborative efforts. Although the two are known for their high-energy radio hits, some of Oasis‘s best moments come when the singers get a little quiet and nostalgic. In “La Canción,” Bad Bunny and Balvin reminisce about a past love. Music brings the moment back to life, and the mellow melody in “La Canción” lets you fall right back with them.
Kim Petras, “Meet The Parents”
Kim Petras‘ Clarity project is finally out, thus ending her months-long stream of fantastic singles. The final version of Clarity only featured three songs we hadn’t heard before, but Petras saved one of her best ones for last. The German pop singer has been experimenting with her sound a lot on this collection, but “Meet The Parents” is classic, bouncy pop queen perfection. On “Meet The Parents,” she brags about all the impressive international trips she could bring her lover on — but they’ll never meet her family. Clarity has some of her most serious, thematically dark songs yet, but it’s cool to see her get playful, too.
The BTS World video game soundtrack cuts we’ve heard over the last few weeks have been great, but they were also a little lonely. For each of the three pre-released songs, only a few members of the band appeared on each track. On “Heartbeat,” off the full soundtrack, all seven Bangtan boys are reunited again. The song shines with their combined star power. “Heartbeat” is tender and affectionate, as BTS sing about their hearts “on fire for your love.” Jimin, Jin, Jungkook, and V sound absolutely gorgeous on the soaring group vocals in the chorus.
Following the sparkling synths of “Number One Fan,” the second single off pop band Muna‘s new release is quietly devastating. Singer Katie Gavin recalls the wreckage of a heartbreak as she wonders who the one that actually holds her love’s heart is. The verses start out slow and measured, but as Gavin’s passion ramps up, the song unfolds into a dark, beautiful electro-pop dream. Muna’s new album Saves The World is due out September 6.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.