Lana Del Rey gives us another taste of her upcoming album on the spare but poetic new "Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but I have it," a five-and-a-half-minute meditation. ILoveMakonnen returns with a casually upbeat new tune for a night out, bringing along Gucci Mane for the ride. Calvin Harris and Rag'n'Bone man bring soulful bounce to a new house track; Ariana and the Rose drops a vibrant video to go along with her dance tune "Night Owl;" and Nick Waterhouse finds a timeless throwback style on the debut single of a new album.
"hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but I have it," Lana Del Rey
If there's one thing you can always count on Lana Del Rey for, it's dedication to her character and her themes: decrepit Americana, a kind of depressed hedonism, moody self-reflection on the passage of time as a gilded age flakes away. Lana's project has always been to mythologize an era — one she may not have ever even lived in, but one she embodies in spirit and form with impressive commitment. "Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but I have it" is a curious choice for a pre-album release, a prelude to the upcoming Norman F--king Rockwell. It's a five-and-a-half minute dirge, just Lana's spare vocals over piano. But it includes some of her finest, most chilling writing, and most precise singing. She has an uncanny ability to coin new turns of phrase in her lyrics; you'll be seeing these lines popping up on memes for months. (You don't hear pop stars name-dropping Sylvia Plath that often, after all.) And then there's this: "They write that I'm happy, they know that I'm not, but at best you can see I'm not sad." Something to chew on.
"Spendin'," ILoveMakonnen feat. Gucci Mane
ILoveMakonnen hits a slick new stride on "Spendin'," the rapper's first new song in over a year. Best known for his Drake-supported banger "Tuesday" — which was all about the club going up on, yes, a Tuesday — "Spendin'" doesn't stray too far from that sweet spot, seeing ILoveMakonnen once more having a great time out on the town. But this time he seems a little bit more low key about his flex, and joined by a smooth-rapping Gucci Mane, there's a pleasantly unhurried vibe to their party tune. The club may not go all the way up to this one, but it would be great for cocktail hour.
"Giant," Calvin Harris feat. Rag'n'Bone Man
Here's Calvin Harris in fine form, turning a funk-inflected track into something with dance-ready bounce. Rag'n'Bone Man's gruff vocals are just the right texture for this ultimately bright and groovy new song, which trades on a toe-tapping beat and uplifting lyrics. "I would be nothing / Without you holding me up / Now strong enough for both of us," the first verse goes — a nice bit of sentiment that pairs well with the strong build that Harris puts together before it drops into the chorus.
"Song for Winners," Nick Waterhouse
For an updated throwback to rock and soul, look no further than musician Nick Waterhouse, whose weathered voice and nimble guitar come to life on "Song for Winners," the first single off his upcoming self-titled album. The L.A.-based artist sounds like he could easily could have fit in mid-20th century with his fuzzy-edged R&B, but keeps things updated and interesting with jazzy interludes and earnest, unfussy delivery. While the track may start off with a rock 'n' roll vibe, it quickly evolves into a bluesier groove that shows off his classic style.
"Night Owl," Ariana and the Rose
Ariana and the Rose has one main goal: to get you to dance. "Night Owl," a song inspired by disco and early 90s clubby pop, and now with a punchy, vibrant video to go along with it, should help you accomplish that goal on first listen. "You've been standing, you've been dancing on your own," she sings — a callback to Robyn, maybe, but with a brighter take: "You're alone, but you're not lonely anymore," she insists with perfectly calibrated breathy pop insistence, "and don't it feel good." Consider this the song to help you segue from loneliness to lightheartedness, just right to amp you up to hit the town.