Fall is right around the corner, and with it comes the return of many of pop's heavy hitters. But first, Demi Lovato teases her new album with the richly emotional "Tell Me You Love Me." Fifth Harmony releases its first album as a foursome, the standout song being the immediate earworm "He Like That." And Brit singer Jorja Smith gets an electronic assist in her latest with producer Preditah. Plus: talented songwriter Sam Dew defines a sound all his own, and Beck is back with a song that skirts the line between the lightness of pop and the darkness of reality.
"Tell Me You Love Me," Demi Lovato
Lovato comes in strong on "Tell Me You Love Me," a lush and dramatic love song off her newly-announced upcoming album. As the first song released off her new album (and hot on the heels of "Sorry Not Sorry"), "Tell Me You Love Me" traffics in a powerful hand-clap chorus and big horns to pump it up, but lets Lovato's naturally emotive voice shine through the verses with vulnerability. If this is a taste of the new Lovato, fans can rest easy: she's here to dominate.
"On My Mind," Jorja Smith and Preditah
The slinky richness of British singer Jorja Smith's voice slides up and down the register with ease on "On My Mind," a modern R&B track that snappily cuts and remixes her vocals over a layered electronic track. But instead of overdoing production tricks, Preditah has the restraint to let Smith's groove take over, hinting at the many ways she could cross over into new genres in future.
"Runner," Sam Dew
Sam Dew is something a little different. The low-fi darkness of "Runner" is cut through with Dew's light voice, an unexpected contrast that keeps the electronic vibe of the song dynamic instead of repetitive. Born in Chicago and raised in Atlanta, Dew is no stranger to hit-making: most recently, he was behind Taylor Swift and ZAYN's "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" from the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. But on "Runner," he proves he has a sound all his own — and one to keep an ear out for on his upcoming debut album.
"Dear Life," Beck
Fans of Beck will have even more to love in the perennial hitmaker's latest. "Dear Life," the lead single off new album Colors out in October, is a dark pop-rock sound that hints at influences from everyone from the Beatles to Spoon. But while its upbeat, jangly piano riffs and head-nod rhythm are sunny on the surface, digging into the lyrics reveals a darker side: "Dear life, I'm holding on/ How long must I wait/ Before the thrill is gone?"
"He Like That," Fifth Harmony
In "He Like That," the four ladies of Fifth Harmony stretch a little beyond their tried-and-true formula, and it sticks. Kicking off with a low-key guitar melody, "He Like That" — the second single off their just-released self-titled album — turns into a catchy, almost tropical hip-hop tune that lets each member of the foursome stretch her voice. Listen to it twice, and you won't be able to get it out of your head.