Best Songs We Heard This Week: Lola Blanc, Neon Hitch, Regina Spektor + More
Happy Friday, PopCrush readers.
Just as we do every week, the PopCrush editors have selected their favorite new songs on this #NewMusicFriday for your listening pleasure, ranging from up-and-comers to tried-and-true superstars.
We hope that you all have a happy and safe weekend! And for more playlists, be sure to follow us on Apple Music.
Kari Faux, "Fantasy"
What do you get when you mix Massive Attack, Fiona Apple, Erykah Badu and the Gorillaz? Actually, I'm not quite sure... but I think it might sound a little something like Kari Faux. "Fantasy," the latest single off the Little Rock, Arkansas native's debut album Lost En Los Angeles, is a surrealist slice of nu-jazz that incorporates elements of trip hop, rap and lounge music — the artist's unaffected vocals creating an unsettling, almost emotionally detached atmosphere. And the video is just as bizarre as the track: As Kari sits in an increasingly disheveled apartment, a giant kaiju viola terrorizes the city outside her window. A poetic metaphor for the storm raging inside, perhaps? — Erica Russell
Major Lazer feat. Justin Bieber and MØ, “Cold Water”
Justin Bieber made pop music gold with his tropical-house hit “Sorry,” truly one of the greatest songs to ever hit the airwaves — anyone smart will want that track played at both their wedding and funeral. Bieber, smarter than we give him credit for, recognized that winning formula and agreed to attempt a recreation on his latest collaboration with Major Lazer, the dancehall-lite “Cold Water.” While not quite as arresting or infectious as “Sorry” (and, really, what could be?), “Cold Water” offers a similarly breezy feel, with brazen drums catapulting it to true Song of Summer status. Your faves never stood a chance. — Ali Szubiak
James Vincent McMorrow, “Rising Water”
Sure, McMorrow dropped the lead single from his upcoming We Move album two weeks ago, but I’m still listening to it constantly. Those who knew the singer-songwriter best for his tender, piano and acoustic guitar-driven covers like “Higher Love” and “Wicked Game” will be pleasantly surprised by this swerve into upbeat pop territory with its funky synth lines and bopping drum machines. The choice to work with Drake producer Nineteen85 was an inspired one, and the warmth of the production on “Rising Water” flatters McMorrow’s signature falsetto. –Samantha Vincenty
Regina Spektor, “Bleeding Heart"
Just when it seemed as though Regina Spektor’s castle in the sky had been completed to satisfaction, she – like Gaudi with the Sagrada Familia Basílica – has managed to find space for improvement. “Bleeding Heart,” the first single from Remember Us to Life, is a fairy tale wrapped in a goodnight story soaked in fireside tales. It’s Spektor with a little less complexity – here, there’s no need to sort through doublespeak or sophisticated prose: It’s whimsy unpackaged and preassembled. “Someday you'll grow up / And then you'll forget / All of the pain you endured,” she soothes over twilight melodies and ice cream truck jingle-familiarity. — Matthew Donnelly
Neon Hitch, "Why"
She did it: Anarchy is Neon Hitch's long-awaited debut record, an album over six years — or, really, a lifetime in the making, out today. The talented gypsy-pop princess has gone through several sonic evolutions in her turbulent, yet consistently excellent career, from the early days of the Sia co-penned "Get Over U" to her chart-smashing "Ass Back Home" assist with Gym Class Heroes all the way up to today. "Why" is one of the many intriguing offerings from the indie singer-songwriter's set, which is as colorful as the album cover implies. "Why do you do this to me every single f--king time, baby?" she insists repeatedly across the tripping downtempo. It's a fantastic display of her ear for an undeniable melody, her emotive voice — the whole package, really. — Bradley Stern
Lola Blanc, "The Magic"
Los Angeles alt-pop artist Lola Blanc — the sultry sonic lovechild of Danny Elfman and Kylie Minogue — enchants on her spellbinding new single, "The Magic." Off the singer-songwriter's forthcoming debut EP, the tune is a bouncy, reggae-tinted ode to seeking the magic we were promised as children but never found as adults. (Come to think of it, my Hogwarts letter never did arrive in the mail...) Featuring swirling piano flourishes and a wobbly synth line straight out of a '50s horror B-movie, "The Magic" is a creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky bop, and I'm totally bewitched. — Erica Russell
Snakehips feat. Zayn, “Cruel”
Zayn’s boyband past is receding further and further into the background of his musical past with each new release — and good riddance. His latest is “Cruel," a moody collaboration with UK duo Snakehips. While the track starts off with Zayn’s soft vocals pouring out like a soft wisp of smoke, it soon transforms into an uptempo blend of pop and R&B, which seems to be Zayn’s sweet spot. And praise be to all those loud complaints about his marble-mouth vocals — Zayn’s enunciation is clearer than crystal for the first time since his 1D days. Harry who? — Ali Szubiak
Frankmusik, "Heartbeat (feat. Highway Superstar)"
If anyone knows a thing or two about work ethic, it's Frankmusik, one of the most prolific purveyors of electro-pop goodness in the game. Less than a year after dropping his fifth studio LP For You, the dynamic indie star returns this month with the Day Break EP, just in time for summer. The synth-filled collection pulsates from start to finish with cuts like "Overdrive" and "Vacation," plus the sexy and slinky "High On You." And then there's the throbbing, Highway Superstar-assisted "Heartbeat," which has a subtle retro electronic edge — sort of Tron, sort of Electric Youth — that makes it play like an instant classic. — Bradley Stern
Skratch Bastid feat. Shad, “Limoncello”
Canadian producer-DJ Paul “Skratch Bastid” Murphy and his frequent collaborator Shad deliver the kind of carefree joint that could be from 1996 or 2016, a direct descendant of mid-90s party staple “Luchini (AKA This Is It)” by Camp Lo. And that’s just fine by me; the song doesn’t have to change my life, it just has to refresh me mid-summer like the lemony liquor it’s named for. – Samantha Vincenty
Best Albums of 2016 (So Far!)