Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos — and anything else that strikes them as intriguing. You can listen to this playlist on Spotify here. Like this Playlist? Let us know at [email protected], and sign up for our Louder newsletter here.
Lorde, ‘Green Light’
Lorde is back, and in the first single from “Melodrama,” her album due in the summer, she’s been betrayed and dumped. She’s angry, vengeful, contemptuous: “She thinks you love the beach, you’re such a damn liar,” she sneers. And despite all of her better judgment, she’s still attached: “Honey, I’ll come get my things but I can’t let go.” She only wishes she could give herself the “green light” to put it all behind her. But while the song starts out sulking, just voice and piano, it turns into a jubilant pop banger. Abetted by the producer Jack Antonoff (from Bleachers and fun.), the piano chords grow percussive and gospelly, Lorde’s voice rises over an eager backup choir, and even if she’s not done with her ex yet, this tantrum just might be the cathartic one. She looks shattered as her video clip begins and ends, but that doesn’t stop her, in between, from dancing on the roof of her limo. JON PARELES
Iggy Azalea feat. Lil Uzi Vert, ‘Can’t Lose’
Undoubtedly, Iggy Azalea serves a need — what need that is remains somewhat elusive. The need for a pop rapper to make hip-hop seem accessible and nonexclusionary? The need for a fun-house-mirror take on prevailing rap trends? The need for a white female rapper to be given as many chances as possible? The need for a record label to recoup on its investment? All of those things appear to be at play on “Can’t Lose,” her new single with Lil Uzi Vert, and first release in approximately a year. Ms. Azalea has been judged harshly — mostly fairly, with a few exceptions — but she has remained resilient, and committed to her approach. “Can’t Lose” features awkward tough talk, flows that mercilessly pilfer from Migos, and callouts to her earlier hits. And buffering this song on every side, and from within, is Lil Uzi Vert, whose spaced-out sing-raps are so ethereal they serve as a rejoinder to Ms. Azalea’s heavy-effort off-kilter raps, even as they’re being appropriated and used as a protective shield. JON CARAMANICA
Trombone Shorty, ‘Here Come the Girls’
Trombone Shorty, a hometown superstar in New Orleans, serves up retro horn-heavy soul in a jovial remake of “Here Come the Girls” from 1970, written by Allen Toussaint and originally recorded by Ernie K-Doe. It wholeheartedly declares, “Anything better than the opposite sex/They must have kept it up above.” The drumming invokes marching bands, and the funk takes a decided turn toward New Orleans when the trombone solo arrives. It’s only a few days late for Mardi Gras. J.P.
Vagabon, ‘Cold Apartment’
Vagabon is Laetitia Tamko, who grew up in Cameroon before moving to New York City, a world capital of real-estate obsession. Her debut album, “Infinite Worlds,” was released Feb. 24, and it’s an indie-rock album about, among other things, do-it-yourself music and how living space affects the head and heart. “Cold Apartment” is an encounter after an ex’s wedding: “We sit on my cold apartment floor/where we thought we would stay in love.” Electric guitar, bass and drums and four chords, quiet and loud, give Vagabon all the leeway she needs to capture the remorse and longing of a situation forever changed. J.P.
Remy Ma, ‘ShETHER’ and ‘Another One’
The key to beef, of any kind, is not getting rattled. And the most savage aspect of “ShETHER,” the seven-minute broadside Remy Ma unleashed against Nicki Minaj earlier this week, was how collected Remy Ma sounded. The song — an update of “Ether,” a key song in the Jay Z-Nas war of the turn of the millennium — is almost deadpan, pleasantly heartless, with a slow accrual of scorching detail that, taken in sum, feels beyond damning. The version of Ms. Minaj painted by Remy Ma here is fraudulent, domineering, petty, perhaps because Remy Ma doesn’t see Ms. Minaj as a pop legend, but rather a door to be barreled through. “ShETHER” is by turns hilarious and worrisome, as much an indictment of Ms. Minaj’s weaknesses as Remy Ma’s single-minded obsession with them. Truthfulness of the allegations aside, no one has issued as effective a takedown of a superstar rapper in years.
In response, on Twitter, people took to asking “Where’s Nicki?” eagerly awaiting a response song, which never came. Ms. Minaj’s only real reply, it seemed, was posting pictures on Instagram from an exceedingly sunny location wearing space-age swimsuits, and then from Paris fashion week. She is . . . not rattled? If that’s the case, Ms. Minaj’s lack of public interest seems to have undone Remy Ma who, a few days after “ShETHER,” released “Another One,” a far less effective song that begins to make her quest seem to be less about righteous ego-deflation and more about ax-grinding. J.C.
Blanck Mass, ‘Please’
Blanck Mass, the solo project of Benjamin John Power from the duo referred to in this publication as F Buttons, shares the duo’s penchant for Minimalism that can meditate or show fangs. Its third album, “World Eater,” is released today, and its dense, multifarious tracks use drones, loops, samples, brutal beats and corrosive noise. “Please” is relatively dulcet, cycling steadily through two chords behind a sampled voice singing, “Oh please.” The deep bass and spattering percussion of trap are layered with vocal chorales and sudden cries: penitents, perhaps, or voices of the damned. J.P.
Still loud and scruffy but also unabashedly melodic, the San Diego band Wavves previews its next album, “You’re Welcome,” with a song about missing a girl, trying to reach her, facing absurd obstacles and still enjoying the ride: “Time to hit the road/And drove my car into a black hole.” The wriggly low-fi slide guitar line at the beginning forecasts the way the whole song careens ahead like surf-rock sideswiped by punk, veering into smiley vocal harmonies and unexpected chord changes. The band couldn’t sound more nasally cheerful while singing, “They’re shooting at me.” J.P.
Diet Cig, ‘Barf Day’
The best pop-punk uses sweetness as a decoy for angst, and Alex Luciano, the frontwoman of Diet Cig, has a piercingly saccharine voice that veers toward extreme sadness as she deploys it. On this song, taken from the coming album “Swear I’m Good at This,” the “Barf Day” is a birthday, one that causes all sorts of self-flagellation: “I use my phone until it dies/just like my plants, can’t keep anything alive.” By the end of this song, though, she’s retreated from the bait-and-switch, and leaned in to the emptiness — and maybe petulance — that comes with missing out on love: “I just wanna have ice cream on my birthday/Blow the candles out and wish all of the pain away.” J.C.
Why?, ‘Proactive Evolution’
A neo-psychedelic swirl of flutes, hand drums, guitar picking and breathy vocal harmonies carries “Proactive Evolution” from “Moh Lhean,” the album released today by Why?, the songwriter Yoni Wolf’s longtime recording project. Mr. Wolf has long been fascinated by physical frailty and disease — past albums by Why? include “Alopecia” and “Mumps, Etc.” — but “Moh Lhean” follows his own major health crisis, which left him calmly determined to survive. The verses to “Proactive Evolution” depict a state of debilitating weakness, and there are samples of doctors’ voices in the mix, but when the chorus insists, “I’m on fire, and I’m on right now,” and the music’s tightly wound syncopations pick up, they are insistent signs of life. J.P.