This week, Harry Styles released his self-titled rock album to great aplomb and viral frenzy, while Miley Cyrus returned to pop with a sweet and breezy love song. Bob Marley’s eldest daughter remixed one of her father’s favorites for a good cause — and with results ready for the dance-floor-ready. Trio of brothers AJR offered up moody pop to get the people moving on “Drama.” And Calvin Harris dropped another collaboration, this time with Khalid and Future.
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"Carolina," Harry Styles
The self-titled Harry Styles album was always going to be a big deal, thanks to his intensely dedicated fans. But it’s songs like “Carolina” that give the burgeoning rocker credence as more than a viral tween phenomenon. Sounding very much like a modern-day Beatles song in the vein of “Come Together” or “Oh! Darling,” “Carolina” is the kind of folksy love tune — packed with rock guitar, some chorus whoops and a nicely placed falsetto — that showcases Styles’ nascent ability to make something old feel new again.
"Malibu," Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus’ first new music since 2015 takes the form of a heartfelt love song. From background hand claps to beachy guitar strumming, it’s a light bop grounded by Cyrus’ signature deep, softly rasping voice. Fans of Bangerz-era Miley (and its associated, well, bangers) will have to look elsewhere; this one falls more in line with ballads like “Wrecking Ball,” opportunities for her to play with poetic pop and flirt with her country roots.
AJR is finding a sweet spot lately in angsty pop anthems that, magically, become casually upbeat bangers. The trio of brothers from New York, who got their start busking in Washington Square Park, are best known for their breakout hit “Weak.” But with follow-ups like “Drama” calling attention to some of the more challenging elements of contemporary social life while maintaining unstoppable melodic momentum, it’s clear they’ve hit upon a foolproof formula. Let’s hope it continues to unfold on their upcoming album.
"Rollin," Calvin Harris feat. Khalid and Future
Calvin Harris continues his string of collaborations, this time with teen favorite Khalid and of-the-moment rapper Future taking top billing. “Rollin” is a funky slow jam that lets Khalid’s distinctive pipes take the lead. It’s the kind of track that — as the lyrics suggest — will play great on a summer road trip while you’re thinking of other things but still looking for that perfect background vibe.
"Could You Be Loved," Cedella Marley
Bob Marley’s eldest daughter has just released an updated remix of the reggae legend’s classic “Could You Be Loved,” thanks to the electronic savvy of DJ and producer Savi and Bankay. It’s still an island jam, but in its new form as a potential club banger, the introspective track finds a dance-floor-ready beat that can’t be denied. A bonus: Cedella is donating her portion of the earnings to a Jamaican non-profit that empowers women with mentorship and skills training.