Former Voice runner-up Lauren Duski has a message for the world on tender country ballad “Costume Party;” indie rock trio DREAMERS find a bright groove on a new EP; and Swedish production duo Galantis hit just the sweet spot for summer on a juicy new bop, “Satisfied.” Plus, Wiz Khalifa drops the slow-burning Rolling Papers 2, and pop goddess Ariana Grande proudly proclaims that “God is a woman” in her latest new song off of upcoming album Sweetener.
“Costume Party,” Lauren Duski
Reality competitions like NBC’s The Voice can be a mixed blessing for aspiring stars: while they help put talent on the map, they don’t guarantee a future in the industry. Last year’s Voice runner-up Lauren Duski is keenly aware of this complex path forward, and the toll it can take on your spirit. In “Costume Party,” the country-singing Michigan native’s debut single as a solo artist, Duski thoughtfully reflects on putting away the pretense to let her true colors shine. It’s a sweet, sincere ballad with a touching message of vulnerability. “What if I could show my flaws and not be sorry?” she muses. “Cause I’m over this whole costume party.” She may be done with putting on a mask for show, but in all other ways Duski is just getting started making her mark in music.
“Fake It Til You Make It,” DREAMERS
Indie rock band DREAMERS tend to play with the grittier, messier sides of passion in their music; “Fake It Til You Make It,” off of new EP Launch, is about as clean and pop-leaning as they’ve gone so far. Bright with bubbly guitars, toe-tapping high hat and vocalist Nick Wold’s singalong-ready chorus, the song finds the L.A.-via-Brooklyn trio testing out a sweeter, more melodic side of their artistry. The music of DREAMERS has a throwback consistency to it; debut single “Wolves” and follow-up 2016 album This Album Does Not Exist was fast-paced but often blurry and heavy, while recent single “Screws” is exquisitely catchy — but also treads the same dark territory. “Fake It Til You Make It” suggests DREAMERS are working towards a brighter future. They don’t even have to fake it to make it, as it turns out.
“Satisfied,” Galantis feat. MAX
Starting with a yelp and a bounce, “Satisfied” is the dance-ready electronic jam that your summer was missing. Galantis, a Swedish production duo whose 2017 album The Aviary buoyed them to over a billion Spotify streams, has a knack for effervescent tracks with melodic depth. Add in a juicy electric bass and the stylings of vocalist MAX, a New York pop-soul singer with a distinctive tenor, and “Satisfied” is an undeniable party tune. Some smart vocal chops and electronic flourishes keep it interesting, while the upbeat message encourages carefree listening. Consider your summer playlist updated.
“Rain,” Wiz Khalifa feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR
On his extensive new 25-track project Rolling Papers 2, Pittsburgh-bred rapper Wiz Khalifa takes his time, track by track, to create a mood. It’s more of a playlist of sorts than a collection of individually memorable tracks, but that’s for the best: Wiz seems happiest working in this mode of consistent vibe, roping in collaborators like Snoop Dogg, Gucci Mane and Swae Lee to supplement his verses. “Rain,” featuring the melodic singer-producer PARTYNEXTDOOR, gives Wiz a chance to work in some muted jazzy elements, too. It’s a slow burn, and that’s exactly how he likes it.
“God is a woman,” Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande has spoken: God is a woman. The latest song off of Grande’s much-hyped new album Sweetener, which will be out Aug. 17, shows off the pop star’s flexible vocal chops in a track that switches between a honeyed, angelic chorus and dark, beat-driven verses. A spiritual successor to some of her more slow-burning dance songs like “Side to Side,” Grande oozes confidence. “And boy if you confess, you might get blessed,” she offers, proving herself to be a generous, winking deity. In the accompanying video, an all-powerful Grande layers on the metaphors thick. “When you try to come for me, I keep on flourishing,” she reminds her listeners. Check out that closing shot, a remake of one of the most iconic religious images from the Sistine Chapel ceiling: Grande knows exactly what her position is in the pop firmament.
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Write to Raisa Bruner at firstname.lastname@example.org