At long laste, Lorde is back with a breakup anthem that’s as catchy as it is angsty. Plus, Ed Sheeran releases the full contents of Divide, including a worthy follow-up to Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” Louis the Child makes a casual rap song about our phone-obsessed society, Cash Cash and ROZES team up for a soaring electronic reflection on early-stage heartbreak, and teen R&B sensation Khalid drops a full album stacked with moody just-right jams.
"Green Light," Lorde
After three years, Lorde is back. “Green Light” has echoes of her hits from 2013’s moody, percussive Pure Heroine on first take, but it’s also a soaring, danceable new direction for the 20-year-old artist, featuring a catchy melody that fits right in with the Katy Perry’s and Lady Gaga’s of mainstream pop. Lyrically, “Green Light” is the story of recovery from heartbreak—on the brink of freedom from pain, she still dwells on a love past its prime. “Thought you said that you would always be in love, but you’re not in love no more,” she sings, a feeling that hits close to home with her fellow millennials burned by fickle flames.
"Phone Died," Louis the Child feat. Blaise Railey
On a surface level, “Phone Died” from Chicago electronic duo Louis the Child seems like a tongue-in-cheek millennial anthem: after all, it’s a low-key rap about the struggle of losing battery power on a cell. “I won’t be goin’ home til at least 6 in the morn, I’m tryna charge my phone, tell me who got a plug for that?” it goes, a lyric so simple and so relatable that you can’t help but smile, yet there’s a melancholy to the chorus that gives the tune an insidious depth. The production is groovy, almost summery.
"What Do I Know?," Ed Sheeran
Sheeran’s done it again, following up blockbuster lead singles “Shape of You” and “Castle on a Hill” with the hum-happy, acoustic “What Do I Know?” It’s an easy song that hits you from the first listen as a tune that you somehow, innately, know. “We could change this whole world with a piano, add a bass, some guitar, grab a beat and away we go,” he croons. He’s not changing the world with that formula, of course, but like Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” before it (which Sheeran helped write), it’s a song that will bring even Sheeran’s detractors into the fold.
"Matches," Cash Cash and ROZES
You’ve probably heard the powerful, smooth voice of ROZES before—she’s the vocal on The Chainsmokers’ “Roses” and Big Gigantic’s “All of Me,” for instance—so her latest appearance on dance trio Cash Cash’s peppy, layered electronic song “Matches” is a welcome addition to a strong lineup. It’s an ode to the ones who linger in our memories long after the flame has died. “How did you break my heart without even trying? How are you on my mind; you’re not even talking to me?” ROZES reflects. For most, this will feel familiar—and the uplifting arc of the song might even soothe.
Preternaturally soulful 19-year-old Texan singer-songwriter Khalid has a way with beats—and words—that speaks to the modern American experience of youth in a natural, resonant way. His debut album “American Teen” is a generation-wide anthology of the ways that love and technology connect (and disconnect). Ironically, his breakout success can be partially attributed to appearing on Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat. Songs like “8TEEN,” though, are here to last, thanks to a timeless, groovy melody and Khalid’s drawling, unhurried delivery.