Best Songs We Heard This Week: JoJo, Kehlani, John Paul White + More
Happy #NewMusicFriday! You might be heading out of the office for the next few weeks to indulge in holiday festivities, but that doesn’t mean new music isn’t still coming from some of your faves. We’ve dug around the latest releases of the week and selected some of our favorites. Check out these early Christmas presents, hand-picked by the PopCrush editors for your ears!
Speaking of playlists, Apple Music users now have another way to connect with PopCrush — you can stay up to date with all of our mixes here.
And now, onto some new picks for your playlists...
Ariana Grande, “Wit It This Christmas”
I’m a Christmas song purist, preferring to skip “fun” original pop offerings in favor of the classics (Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is a modern classic so it doesn’t count). But “Wit It” is, first and foremost, a great R&B song with shimmering ‘90s-influenced production and shamelessly campy double entendres involving holiday treats. Listening to it year-round might be like eating pumpkin pie in August, but I just might anyway. – Samantha Vincenty
Carly Rae Jepsen, "Your Type (Skylar Spence Remix)"
I've exhausted all my energy this year shouting "JUSTICE FOR JEPSEN," so instead I'll just cut straight to the chase: "Your Type" is just one of the many amazing songs on Carly's E•MO•TION, and appropriately, it's getting the full remix treatment as the album's latest (and hopefully not last) single. The newly premiered Skylar Spence re-rub of Carly's unrequited love letter to a gay boy starts off atmospheric, but soon moves into more lighthearted funkytown territory. Hey, if you can't date 'em...dance with 'em. — Bradley Stern
John Paul White, “Simple Song”
If the dissonance of sleigh bells and angels’ harps has begun to drive you a little nutty, John Paul White’s “Simple Song” will ably scale back the aggression of season’s greetings. The former Civil Wars vocalist told NPR that the track, one of 12 featured on producer Dave Cobb’s Southern Family concept album, was designed to play simply (it’s supported only by guitar, a touch of piano and occasional drum pat), and is inspired by “brutally honest” conversation. Or, as White elaborates: “One not to be shared with others, but with a message that demanded to be conveyed. I knew that conversation would be in plain terms, with familiar patterns.” And yeah, maybe it’s a bit of a killjoy, but can you sincerely listen to “Rudolph” again? — Matthew Donnelly
Wallace, “Negroni Eyes”
The Sydney-based soul artist told AFROPUNK her latest was inspired by a Frida Kahlo quote that reads “I drank to drown my sorrows, but the damned things learned how to swim.” Funny, because “Negroni Eyes” is as buoyant as a deep-sea buoy, bobbing atop currents of speakeasy piano riffs and swift, friendly snaps. It might speak to the danger of vices, but sounds curative, and is replete with little surprises. Listen closely between Wallace’s breathy breaks — you might just hear bits of Amy Winehouse peeking through. — Matthew Donnelly
Kehlani, “Did I”
As I predicted back in May, the Oakland singer-songwriter’s had a huge year — You Should Be Here even nabbed a deserved Grammy nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album. Her latest single “Did I” is a rollercoaster of shifting tempos, moving through thick bass and slowing down only to pick back up with a fury of trap beats and claps. Kehlani comes out swinging and drives her defiant message home with her staccato delivery: “Hurt your feelings when I hustled like that, did I?" The Pop and Oak production is perhaps most interesting in the last few seconds, when the whole thing strips down to a slightly distorted acoustic affair. – Samantha Vincenty
JoJo, "Right On Time"
BOOM. Look at that: Surprise New Music Friday releases still happening up until the very tail-end of 2015. Before we hear JoJo's long-awaited major label follow-up to her 2006 studio album, the underrated "Leave (Get Out)" powerhouse supplied us with a '90s-tastic follow-up to her sensational Valentine's Day #LoveJo mixtape this afternoon called — what else? — #LoveJo2, complete with a Soul II Soul cover, some balladry and a Mary J Blige makeover of her thumping III tringle track, "When Love Hurts." "Right On Time" is the most obvious standout, supplying hand-clapping melodies, strange beat breakdowns and an utterly amazing interpolation of Donna Lewis' "I Love You Always Forever" out of nowhere. Happy early birthday, Jo. — Bradley Stern