A new single from precocious pop star Troye Sivan due to perform as SNL’s musical guest on January 20 suggests much more to come for the erstwhile actor. Plus, modern soul duo Her’s “We Choose” finds grace despite loss; rising British star Jorja Smith taps Stormzy for an unexpectedly orchestral duet; Hayley Kiyoko freshens up cheeky pop in “Curious;” and Aussie folk-rocker Vance Joy continues his string of easy listening hits ahead of a new album.
"Let Me Down," Jorja Smith feat. Stormzy
Jorja Smith is one of those rare, soulful vocalists who make you stop and listen. After nabbing a featured spot on Drake’s “More Life” playlist and picking up the Critics Choice Award accolade at the recent BRITS, Smith is about to become a star in her own right. “Let Me Down,” with grime artist Stormzy, is an appropriately moody and haunting ballad, letting Smith’s buttery voice shine over a rich piano-based melody, offset by Stormzy’s depth. Smith says the tune feels like a Bond theme song. It also feels like a song made to match a dark winter mood — but in a good way.
"Curious," Hayley Kiyoko
Hyped pop singer Hayley Kiyoko is setting herself up for a big 2018, kicking things off with her new single “Curious” off an upcoming debut album. Light and bubbly and honest, “Curious” is a frothy pop confection with a whisper of vulnerability. “I’m just curious,” she wonders, “is it serious?” If you’re looking for a new bop with a more enlightened social consciousness than, say, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” Kiyoko might be serving up just what you ordered.
"We're Going Home," Vance Joy
Aussie folk rocker Vance Joy has an easy, endearing way with songs like “We’re Going Home,” a new track off of upcoming sophomore album Nation of Two, out in February. From buttery hums to tender lyricism, the acoustic earnestness of the track hits the sweet spot for the genre. It’s a song to turn up while cruising a country road — or maybe just to put in your headphones while headed back home after a long week at work. Either way, it’s a lovely, soaring kind of tune for the end of the day.
"We Choose," Her
Her was a duo of artists — Victor Solf and Simon Carpentier — who worked together for more than ten years, creating with Her old-school soul with a contemporary edge. “We Choose,” a haunting, melancholic reflection, was the first song the two collaborators ever wrote together; they considered it a “statement” about their musical identity. Tragically, Carpentier lost a battle with cancer this summer, making the song even more poignant. But the lush music — and the message — lives on, powerfully visualized in the spare, sober accompanying video. “We choose the way we’ll be remembered,” the lyrics go. “Our wings are broke, but we’ll keep on gliding.” In that spirit, Her is still planning on releasing their debut album in March.
"My My My!," Troye Sivan
Indie pop darling Troye Sivan is following up his big 2015 breakout hit “Youth” with “My My My!” Staking his claim as a queer pop force with an appropriately moody music video, “My My My!” builds on the young South-Africa-born, Australia-based singer-actor’s style of breathy, dance-ready tunes. There’s nothing not to like about his eager tale of a heady romance — or the precise production that buoys his airy tone.