P!nk and Rob Thomas look to country for inspiration as they put out new tracks — one a pop anthem, one a rock anthem — that are both reflective and uplifting in turn. Kehlani’s new mixtape is pure R&B bliss, all buttery slow james. Grammy-nominated rapper Tierra Whack finally puts out a song that clocks in at more than a minute, with great results. And James Bay and Julia Michaels team up for a sweet, intimate love lullaby packed with vulnerability.
"Nunya," Kehlani feat. Dom Kennedy
Since releasing her well-received debut SweetSexySavage in 2017, Kehlani has been one of R&B’s most versatile featured artists. (See: her appearances alongside artists including Cardi B, Charlie Puth, Hayley Kiyoko and Eminem.) On her new nine-track project While We Wait, the Californian crooner proves she still shines solo. Effortless and confident over a layered, melting beat, “Nunya” is pure R&B bliss with a message of independence; the title refers to “none of your business.” No one can tell Kehlani who or what she should do. Hard not to take her advice when it’s delivered in this sleek of a package.
"Peer Pressure," James Bay and Julia Michaels
Delicate and intimate in his delivery, English singer-songwriter James Bay is a well-calibrated partner for prolific collaborator Julia Michaels on “Peer Pressure,” which starts off as an acoustic ballad and builds to a warm, heartfelt rock lullaby. It’s not fancy, but its directness makes for easy listening in the good way. “I don’t usually give in to peer pressure, but I’ll give in to yours,” Bay sings, a pun that falls on the side of sweet in the song’s love-positive context.
"Only Child," Tierra Whack
Grammy-nominated Philly rapper Tierra Whack made a name for herself last year by releasing a delightfully diverse and playful set of 15 songs — each of which clocked in at under a minute. At nearly four minutes, her new track “Only Child” is finally a meatier piece of music for fans to chew on. It’s produced with a fluttery, light touch that belies the stinging lyrical content: verse by verse, she systematically dissects a less-than-worthy consort. “You must be the only child because you’re so stingy,” she complains with sing-song flippancy. “Lyin’ through your teeth, so I don’t rush to give you kisses.” No need; Whack can stand very well on her own.
"Walk Me Home," P!nk
P!nk goes a little bit country on “Walk Me Home,” a toe-tapping new tune that plays off of the perennial pop powerhouse’s strengths: a soaring chorus, an uncomplicated beat, uplifting singalong lyrics. “I can’t be alone with all that’s on my mind,” she sighs. “There’s so much wrong going on outside.” It’s a relatable track for its moment, in true P!nk form. And as a follow-up to last year’s Beautiful Trauma, it suggests a seamless evolution as she continues to develop her conscious pop phase.
"One Less Day (Dying Young)," Rob Thomas
Rob Thomas — yes, the Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty and Santana and “Smooth” fame — is putting out a new solo album, Chip Tooth Smile, in late April. And to kick things off we have “One Less Day (Dying Young),” a rock anthem that features a folksy kick, an upbeat tone and a bit of a pop attitude. Like P!nk, Thomas seems to be in a country mood these days, underscored with an attentiveness to mortality and luck. “I’ve seen my friends fall away before their time, and I’ve been afraid that I may follow in their light,” he admits. “Someday I will leave this world, but maybe not tonight.” It’s dark, to be sure, but countered with clear-eyed positivity. This is Thomas’s fourth solo outing, and his first since 2015, but he’s still very much in his stride.