This week marks the return of Christina Aguilera, yes, but don’t forget about Enrique Iglesias — back with his first English-language single in four years — and Florence + the Machine, revving up for a new album release later this summer. Also: indie singer Jessie Reyez critiques sexual double standards in a sharp, empowering new song; Shawn Mendes and Khalid reflect on gun violence and provide an anthem for the kids in “Youth;” and rapper Desiigner surprise-releases a debut EP that shows off his signature sound.
"Youth," Shawn Mendes and Khalid
The pairing of Shawn Mendes and Khalid — one still 19, one now 20, both seeming voices of a generation — feels right. On “Youth,” their new thoughtful, melodic duet off of Mendes’s upcoming self-titled album, both young singers showcase their sensitivity: to adolescence, to the turbulence of the era they’re growing up in, to music that is both anthemic and cathartic. The song alludes to the scourge of gun violence that plagues teens in the U.S. recently, offering an acknowledgement and a plea for retaining innocence and compassion in the face of violence. “Pain, but I won’t let it turn into hate. No, I won’t let it change me. You can’t take my youth away,” the refrain goes, as both artists layer their complementary voices onto the track. There’s power in their soulful solidarity.
"Body Count," Jessie Reyez
No one else sounds like Jessie Reyez. The idiosyncratic Canadian artist balances a gritty depth with bright, bouncy vocals in a way that’s infectious and full of dark humor. “Body Count,” her newest release, is Reyez’s latest gift: a self-empowerment anthem delivered with honesty and a wink. “You don’t gotta tell me ’bout your body count / I don’t gotta know your ex’s name,” she insists, ”
“’cause if it just so happens that you turn around and ask me / I think you might feel some type of way.” The takeaway: your approach to love is nobody’s business but your own, and it’s high time the double standards that women face regarding sexuality are torn down. All of this, of course, wrapped up in a catchy song package over her guitar strums.
On Thursday night, Brooklyn rapper Desiigner celebrated his 21st birthday. He also dropped a surprise debut EP at midnight, his first complete body of work since 2016, following up his Kanye-sampled breakout hit “Panda” first released in 2014 and subsequent banger “Timmy Turner.” The new EP, a slim seven tracks with no features, is proof enough that the rapper with his warbled vocal flow — reminiscent as it is of Future — still has plenty left to say, and style to spare with which to say it. “HOOD,” the closing track, is thick with haunting instrumentation and Desiigner’s signature vocal embellishments. Most of the time, Desiigner is having a lot of fun; on “HOOD,” though, he goes a little more introspective.
"MOVE TO MIAMI," Enrique Iglesias feat. Pitbull
Nineties kids may have been fixated on the return of Christina Aguilera this week, but there’s another star from that era also moving back onto the scene: Enrique Iglesias, one of the biggest Latin recording artists in music history. “Move to Miami,” featuring Mr. Worldwide himself Pitbull, is Iglesias’s first English-language single since 2014’s “Bailando.” It’s a proper party banger: a dance-worthy beat, steamy lyrics and a snappy merengue keyboard refrain to set it apart. Ultimately, it hardly matters what language the song is in these days, anyway; the success of last year’s “Despacito” and Iglesias’s own “El Baño” from January is sign enough that it’s a memorable melody that matters — one that makes your body move. (It doesn’t have to be all the way to Miami.)
"Hunger," Florence + the Machine
Few acts tap that cathartic rock ‘n’ roll feeling quite like Florence + the Machine, who returns this week with “Hunger,” the first single off of upcoming June 29 album High as Hope. “Hunger” is what you’d expect from the creators of 2009 hit “Dog Days Are Over:” a stadium-ready song that’s both uplifting and raw, a meditation on the ways we try to cope with loneliness. But it’s couched within the context of a hand-clapping beat and Florence’s signature soaring voice. In other words: Florence has another hit on her hands.