Ariana Grande releases the full thank u, next album — and “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” proves to be the “Dangerous Woman” follow up fans were waiting for. (Sorry, Grammys: but you wom’t see her perform at the Grammys.) Kim Petras teams up with fellow pop cult favorite SOPHIE for a dance track that’s ready for its club appearance as soon as possible. The Chainsmokers make an unusual play towards rock with 5 Seconds of Summer, resulting in an earworm of a boy-band-style song. Singer-guitarist Gary Clark Jr. proves his skills are currently unmatched. And rap duo EarthGang keep it positive on a fun, funky, minimalist new arrangement with Young Thug.
"break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored," Ariana Grande
Where “thank u, next” was a tender piece of self-reflection and “7 rings” a confident celebration, Grande’s third single off of the sinuous and slick new album thank u, next is a late-night banger in the vein of “Dangerous Woman.” Over the course of the album, Grande grapples with pain, self-worth and recovery; “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored,” the project’s closer, suggests moving forward into a new phase of self-love, consequences be damned. It should come as no surprise that the winding, dark track comes with an assist from famed pop producer Max Martin, or that Grande chose this one to pair with a steamy music video. (It even included an *NSYNC sample.) Healing is hard, but letting loose is part of the process.
"1,2,3 dayz up," Kim Petras feat. SOPHIE
German pop singer Kim Petras has become a favorite for her unapologetically synth-forward style; “1,2,3 dayz up” with fellow underground pop icon SOPHIE serves another dose of her particular brand of dance floor magic, spiked generously with AutoTune and a rich bass beat. Petras is always fresh and irreverent, with no exceptions here; “I wanna party with Jesus,” goes the chorus in this one, as she sings her ode to the joys of endless partying over a bubbling background. It may not be for everyone, but it’s a mood boost.
"Who Do You Love," The Chainsmokers with 5 Seconds of Summer
What happens when you mix blockbuster boy band 5 Seconds of Summer with dance track hitmakers The Chainsmokers? “Who Do You Love” is what. A little bit rock, a little bit EDM, a little bit punk-pop, it’s a Frankenstein of a song with a guitar-driven handclap chorus that will, ultimately, find its way inside your brain. “Who do you love, do you love now? I wanna know the truth,” the guy of 5SOS sing, that “who” serving as an ongoing background refrain. The Chainsmokers may have provided some electronic flourishes and drops to elevate the tune, but the heart of the song is with the Aussie group’s rock sensibility and warm vocals.
"Pearl Cadillac," Gary Clark Jr.
Gary Clark Jr. is a guitarist first and foremost; his blues-rock style is both of the past and the future, hard-driving riffs mixed with unexpected restraint. On “Pearl Cadillac,” the Texas musician — who’s opened for the likes of the Rolling Stones and the Foo Fighters in his still-young career — focuses on his musicianship, letting loose with searing guitar. And when he sings? It’s in contrast, with a falsetto that’s light, sweet and resonant. This follows the release of his first single off upcoming album This Land, a searing indictment of racial injustice in Trump’s America. Where that song wore anger on its sleeve, “Pearl Cadillac” lets it simmer just under the surface.
"Proud of You," EarthGang feat. Young Thug
Hip-hop duo EarthGang joined up a decade ago as teens in Atlanta’s Southside, so maybe it’s no surprise that you can hear their hometown predecessors Outkast and Future show up in their music: high-energy, nimble lyrical flows over haunting beats. “Proud of You” is a surprisingly sweet song as far as rap goes, all positive vibes and celebration. That is, until Young Thug jumps in, with a beat switch and a fresh take. EarthGang says they dedicated the song specifically to the women in their lives, too. “Hard times, but you make it look easy,” they bow down. It’s a sentiment well-received.