The Best Songs We Heard This Week: Justin Bieber, Missy Elliott + More
Happy #NewMusicFriday! If you need some new songs for your personal soundtrack, you're in luck — check out some of the best releases on this internationally-agreed-upon global release date of Friday, hand-picked by the PopCrush editors for your ears.
Dig into this week’s round-up from our editors (in no particular order), and add your favorites to your weekend playlist.
Speaking of playlists, Apple Music users now have another way to connect with PopCrush — you can stay up to date with all of our mixes here.
And now, on to your new favorite songs…
Missy Elliott feat. Pharrell, "WTF (Where They From)"
The video for Missy Elliott’s “WTF (Where They From)” opens with a montage of men and women of various age and race, bopping and rapping along with her first song in three years. That’s fitting, given the impact her music’s had on a diverse swath of people — myself included — and the artist-producer’s comeback track schools even the uninitiated on why she’s been so sorely missed. The song and its visual harken back to the bizarre, singularly-Missy fun of “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” and “Get Ur Freak On” without getting stuck in a retread. Here’s hoping we’ll hear more in the near future (and see more of marionette Missy and Pharrell, too). – Samantha Vincenty
Hailee Steinfeld, "Hells Nos & Headphones"
Alessia Cara only just started taking off with her introverted, get-me-outta-this-party anthem "Here," but Hailee's already arrived with a worthy, finger-snapping sister to play while you're hiding in that stranger's bedroom. "Don't want another drink, I just want to be alone / No, I don't care about what you think, I'm going home," Steinfeld declares on her dreamy HAIZ EP jam. Sadly for Hailee, based on the winning one-two punch of her subtle self-service anthem "Love Yourself" and now this, it sounds like she's only going to get more party invites in the very near future. — Bradley Stern
HOLYCHILD, “Barbie Nation”
HOLYCHILD’s debut release came out earlier this year, but I’ve admittedly been sleeping on it. Thankfully, the album's opening track jolted me awake: With its offbeat synths and high-energy percussion, “Barbie Nation” is a powerhouse of a pop song, and fits in neatly with HOLYCHILD’s self-appointed brand of "brat pop." Recalling the brash energy of Sleigh Bells but minus all that white-noise, “Barbie Nation” has the kind of welcome abrasiveness that’s missing from most pop music these days, with just enough of a wink and a melody to keep things straight-up fun. — Ali Szubiak
Grimes feat. Janelle Monae, "Venus Fly"
As a day-one Grimes fan, I’ve witnessed her evolution from experimental producer crafting lo-fi songs inspired by the sci-fi novel Dune to full-fledged pop queen. Gone is the kid in a t-shirt who barely lifted her eyes from her many keyboards when I first saw her live at Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest in 2011: She played the festival again this past weekend to an exponentially larger crowd, addressing us like we were all old friends. Art Angels is her most polished and ambitious album yet, and “Venus Fly” is a take-no-nonsense banger, fusing guest vocals from Janelle Monae with punky “hey”s and beats that are part B’more club, part tribal drums (Grimes' tribe, that is). -Samantha Vincenty
Justin Bieber, "Been You"
Justin Bieber's Purpose, like the superstar himself, is introspective, religious and majorly angsty, accurately capturing the young singer's strange, strange world. And while his confessional-style moments often translate into the album's greatest highs like "Sorry" and "I'll Show You," it's just as much of a relief to hear him let loose with some bouncier, lightweight pop jams. "Been You" is a synth-heavy, vaguely '80s-leaning banger that — while a regret-filled ode to a lost love ("If I would have known it could have been you!") — feels a lot less heavy than those reflections on fame and odes to the almighty. — Bradley Stern
Mutemath, "Used To"
Evolution certainly looks good on Mutemath: The dreamy Vitals, released today, is a far cry from 2011’s mile-a-minute “Allies,” a total divergence from 2006’s sanguine, let-me-be-me “Typical.” “Used To,” which vocalist Paul Meany told Billboard chronicles his aversion to leaving his house in New Orleans, is nevertheless proof that remaining in motion might be his band’s most valuable skill. The song punctuates a homey, comfortable beat with dirtying twists and turns: If this is the sound of their kicking and screaming to leave, may Mutemath never find roots. — Matthew Scott Donnelly
One Direction, “Hey Angel”
One Direction’s latest album, Made in the A.M., is chock full of old-school references, but they breach ‘90s territory only once, on the Brit-pop opener “Hey Angel.” With its soaring instrumentation, a gritty vocal performance from one Harry Styles and a defiant bridge that just barely recalls The Beatles' “I Am The Walrus," it’s a track that might fare well with listeners who aren’t fond of One Direction’s more bubblegum pop tracks. Certainly the “Clouds” of this album, it’s a real shame we’ll never hear this one live. — Ali Szubiak
Fiction Plane, "Blind Pilot"
Willing interest in a small club band is as ubiquitous a college experience as swigging energy drinks or experimenting with a soul patch (ugh…), and my choice ensemble at 18 was Sting’s son’s Fiction Plane, for some reason. The group’s 2007 Left Side of The Brain—particularly “Two Sisters”—acted as an aural space shuttle set off by lead vocalist Joe Sumner’s launch pad. But Mondo Lumnia, their first work in five years, is noticeably more relaxed, and “Blind Pilot” is proof Fiction Plane can fly without breaking the sound barrier. It’s catchy, a little strange and comfortably descends with an earmark buzzsaw guitar solo. In short: it’d make dad and The Police proud. — Matthew Scott Donnelly