Justin Bieber taps BloodPop, Julia Michaels, and Justin Tranter for another pop track sure to scale the charts with “Friends.” Lizzo’s self-care bop “Water Me” is as infectious as they come. Mysterious DJ ZHU brings the vibes in a slinky new EP of mixed genres. Indie pop band Grouplove wind down the summer in style with the nostalgic “Remember That Night.” And Rachel Platten returns with the sequel to “Fight Song,” another empowering anthem and rallying cry for the next movement.
"Friends," Justin Bieber and BloodPop
It’s been a summer of extremes for Justin Bieber: he’s got two smash hits in chart-topping song of the summer “Despacito (Remix)” and DJ Khaled production “I’m the One,” but he canceled the remaining dates on his Purpose world tour to focus on maintaining the sustainability of his career. Then he comes out with “Friends” alongside super producer BloodPop, the mysterious mind behind tracks for the likes of Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Grimes. (Meanwhile, writing credits go to the on-fire duo of Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter (“Issues,” “Sorry”). “Friends” leans more in the direction of Bieber’s Purpose tunes, letting him croon casually over a clubby beat. While not a game-changer, “Friends” proves that when it comes to radio-friendly pop, Bieber still has the chops — and BloodPop, who’s positioning this as his first official single, has the potential.
"Chasing Marrakech," ZHU
The intentionally mysterious DJ ZHU has been making a name for himself with haunting electronic tracks overlaid with just enough vocals to elevate them from ambient to deeply catchy. “Chasing Marrakech,” off a new four-track EP, combines his minimalist-but-melodic style with instrumental layers snagged from many traditions — there’s a reverb-heavy electric guitar riff in there, retro-sounding horns to kick it off, a cascading harpsichord to ground it, and multiple singers adding some life. Try not to get sucked into a daydream of eerie nights in Morocco as you listen.
"Water Me," Lizzo
Lizzo’s brand of fun-loving, identity-embracing hip hop is a much-needed breath of fresh air. “Water Me” is the self-care bop you didn’t know you needed: an unapologetic, energy-filled jam meant to inspire listeners to hydrate. Whether that’s with good old H2O or, more likely, a more nourishing (and metaphorical) drink of self-love and confidence is up to our interpretation. “I don’t get dehydrated. I moisturize it daily. I am my inspiration,” she sings. There’s a celebration in her body, her identity, and her musicality that’s deeply infectious.
"Remember That Night," Grouplove
With “Remember That Night,” the festival favorite L.A.-based indie pop band Grouplove share a song that reeks of nostalgia. The rock-leaning track, added to their 2016 album Big Mess, finds its groove in a gritty honesty. “You remember that night when I hit a red light and you pulled up next to me?” We all have those stories; Grouplove is here to be the soundtrack when you need to relive them.
"Broken Glass," Rachel Platten
Singer-songwriter Rachel Platten — of “Fight Song” fame — is out with an empowering new anthem for women today. “Broken Glass” follows in the uplifting path of “Fight Song,” another sharply produced pop jam whose every line leans into her image as torchbearer for women’s empowerment. “I’m gonna dance on broken glass,” she sings. “I’m gonna make that ceiling crash.” The metaphor may be blunt, but the melody is effective.