Welcome back to The Verge’s weekly musical roundup. I’m Jamieson, I’m still your host, and after a week spent wrestling with new music from two of the biggest pop stars in the world, I’m ready for a weekend-long nap. Are you going to spend your Friday night rocking with Beyoncé’s incendiary new "visual album" Lemonade or Drake’s oh-so-smooth new LP VIEWS? The answer may depend on your streaming service of choice: Beyoncé’s release is remaining a Tidal exclusive for the indefinite future, and Drake’s tight friendship with Apple means VIEWS is going to live within iTunes for a while. (And if you’re a Spotify user, you might have to *gasp* buy the albums to hear them.)
While Bey and the 6 God gobbled up most of the week’s headlines, plenty of interesting stuff happened on the musical margins. Calvin Harris made a Song of the Summer bid with Rihanna’s help; Local Natives broke their silence, releasing new music for the first time in three years; Kesha rose above her legal battle by performing on a new Zedd single, her first release since 2013. If you’re tired of hearing about pop music’s reigning giants, you can take a breath and listen to some new stuff below.
Remember to subscribe to our Spotify playlist if you haven’t already — it’s updated weekly! Let’s go:
Band of Horses, "Casual Party"
The best thing about this new Band of Horses single is probably its lyric video, which tries to capture the magic of a night spent singing at a Korean karaoke parlor. If you watch it and find yourself craving buckets of skunky beer and crusty three-ring binders full of obscure codes, no one can blame you. The song isn’t bad, either; at the very least, your dad will enjoy it!
Calvin Harris & Rihanna, "This Is What You Came For"
I can’t get over the (accidental?) brilliance of this song being titled "This Is What You Came For." You see the names Calvin Harris and Rihanna and a glittering shard of dance-pop appears in your mind’s eye, and guess what: that’s exactly what this is! This is what you came for! It’s the title every song that sounds exactly like you think it’s going to sound deserves. This is maybe 75% as good as "We Found Love," and that’s just enough to make it a viable summer smash. It’s nice to hear Rihanna working over a track this glossy after spending so much time listening to ANTI, an album that tends towards the grainy.
Cornelius, "Star Fruits Surf Rider"
Alright, guilty as charged: this one isn’t exactly "new." It could’ve been your next jam 20 years ago when it was first released as part of Cornelius’ 1997 LP Fantasma, which is being remastered and reissued by Lefse Records on June 10th. And while this song’s old enough to go to college at this point, it still sounds crisp, strange, and totally engaging.
Dawn Richard, "Honest"
Dawn Richard’s new collaboration with the producer Kingdom is arriving on the heels of her groundbreaking 360 degree live streamed concert, an event we were happy to present on YouTube last week. "Honest" is sinewy and piercing, and she offers up real talk about a strained relationship that feels all too familiar: "Loving you is like smoking spliffs / It’s a temporary high laced with side effects." It’s hard to resist that burst of pleasure, even when you know it’s probably hurting you in the long run.
Local Natives, "Past Lives"
Local Natives made two of the best indie rock records of the early ‘10s — debut Gorilla Manor landed in 2010, and it was followed up with Hummingbird in 2013 — and "Past Lives" is proof they haven’t lost any of their form in the last three years. Some things are always going to sound great, no matter how much time passes, and you can file this band’s trademark harmonies (deployed judiciously but effectively here) into that category.
Paul Simon, "Cool Papa Bell"
Look, I wasn’t expecting Paul Simon to drop a verified slapper that relies heavily on the use of the word "motherfucker" this week either, OK? Sometimes greatness falls into your lap when you least expect it, and Simon’s been churning out frisky Afro-pop jams like this since Ezra Koenig was in diapers. I’m not going to take him for granted again.
Ross from Friends, "Talk to Me You’ll Understand"
Please don’t ruin the elaborate fantasy I’ve constructed in which David Schwimmer makes stylish dance music between takes in his trailer on the set of American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson. Juuuuuuice! Uncle Bobby Kardashian is turning out bangers fit for Boiler Room in his spare time!
Sally Shapiro, "If You Ever Wanna Change Your Mind"
"If You Ever Wanna Change Your Mind" is the final single pop duo Sally Shapiro will release before dissolving, and I’m glad they’re going out on a high note: it’s soft, sweet, and catchy enough to hang with the best songs in their catalog. I love the way the title leaves the door open for a reunion, like it’s doubling as a private message between band members.
White Lung, "Below"
White Lung’s new LP Paradise will be made available in full next week, and every new song the band’s released so far suggests the album is the band’s play for relative pop stardom. "Below" is hooky and shimmering, and it’s worlds away from the blistering hardcore the band was churning out as recently as 2014. It’s hard to argue against change when the results lodge themselves in your brain like this.
Zedd & Kesha, "True Colors"
This week’s column is ending on the happiest possible note. "True Colors" isn’t the finest song Kesha’s ever recorded, and it doesn’t mean the end of her legal woes. (She and Zedd had to secure permission from Dr. Luke and her label to release it, even though it’s just a new take on a track from Zedd’s 2015 album of the same name.) All of that melts away when you hear her singing about being unafraid and unapologetic in the face of an oppressor; you can almost feel the weight being lifted from her shoulders. This song’s release isn’t bringing her case any closer to a resolution, but it’s nice to hear an artist who’s been constrained for so long getting the chance to do what she loves.
Here’s the running This Is Your Next Jam playlist — have a great weekend!