Bob Marley’s grandson continues the family legacy with contemporary flair. Sister trio HAIM tease their return with a stripped-down, oddly arresting song and video. DJ Khaled throws a house party and invites Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Quavo, and Lil Wayne to join in on the fun — to great success. And summer comes early with new jams from indie pop favorites Foster the People and Ingrid Michaelson.
"Calm Down," Skip Marley
Bob Marley’s grandson is making a name for himself this year in a big way, starting with his feature on Katy Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm,” the smash success of protest song “Lions,” and now the release of “Calm Down.” The younger Marley’s style takes cues from the reggae beats of his family legacy, but layers on politically-conscious lyrics and contemporary production for an immediate earworm. “Calm Down” may ask us to stay chill, but don’t sleep on it.
"Right Now," Haim
Rocker girl group HAIM blazed onto the scene four years ago to great success, but have stayed relatively mum since then. So the release of the song and video for “Right Now” is an intriguing return to the spotlight for the trio of musician sisters. The video, directed by no less than Paul Thomas Anderson, is an understated take on a studio performance, a minimalist visual for an equally pared-down song. This isn’t the lushly orchestrated HAIM of the past, but then again, the song isn’t even technically their upcoming album’s first single. For now, the uncomplicated, striking chords of “Right Now” — some vocals here, some guitar and piano there, a few drums to close it out — are a nice idea to play on a summer’s night.
"I'm the One," DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne
A DJ Khaled jam always has certain trademarks: a star-studded cast of featured voices, an appreciation for the finer things in life, and production that isn’t too complicated. It’s just… catchy. “I’m the One” stays on form and stacked with top talent, from the signature quaver of Quavo to Chance the Rapper’s nimble rhymes and Lil Wayne’s winking confidence. But it’s Bieber’s smooth vocals that tie the tune together. Together, this unexpected crew of collaborators hits a spring-ready sweet spot.
"Doing It for the Money," Foster the People
For lovers of upbeat indie pop, there’s nothing quite like Foster the People to satiate the appetite. The creators of 2011’s “Pumped Up Kicks” are back with an upcoming album, out this summer, and a layered sound that feels instantly recognizable. “Doing It for the Money” is a synth-y, saturated blend of musical ingredients, a track that really hits its groove during a soaring, anthemic chorus.
"Celebrate," Ingrid Michaelson feat. AJR
Indie singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson brings the summer vibes in “Celebrate,” a party-ready bop that insists on having a good time. The re-worked single adds some depth in the form of electronic breaks and contrasting vocals from AJR, but it’s Michaelson’s distinctive voice and sweet childhood nostalgia that carries the song to joyous heights. “This is the music that makes me better,” she sings, and it’s hard not to agree.