Best Songs of the Week: Erik Hassle, Sara Bareilles, Joanna Newsom + More
It's that time again: #NewMusicFriday! Thanks to the new, internationally agreed-upon global release date, all the biggest releases drop at the very end of the week. And, to help sort the good from the truly great, we're spotlighting six tracks — five new, plus one throwback — that the PopCrush Staff had on repeat in the last seven days.
Check out this week's round-up from our editors (in no particular order), and add your favorites to your weekend playlist. And 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…
Disclosure feat. Lorde, “Magnets”
We’re still awaiting the followup to Lorde’s near-perfect Pure Heroine debut, but her standout feature on Disclosure’s uneven Caracal is enough to tide us over for a bit. On “Magnets,” Lorde’s crushing on someone who may be taken; as she sings on time with the beat, “Smoke and sunset, off Mulholland / He was talking, I was wonderin’ ‘bout / You and that girl, she your girlfriend / Face from heaven, bet the world she don’t know.” The track’s a sleepy, sultry dose of golden hour sunshine that sounds like late-summer’s 25th hour. — Samantha Vincenty
Erik Hassle, "Natural Born Lovers"
Swedish singer-songwriter Erik Hassle's been on a hot streak since, well, his debut several years ago. ("Hurtful, anyone?) But lately, he's really been killing it, as with his dreamy, vibez-filled summer jam "No Words." Now, we've got another taste of what he's been cooking up since signing with RCA Records: "Natural Born Lovers," a sexy, StarGate-produced strut that sees Erik channeling his inner MJ (and maybe a bit of The Weeknd's current winning touch), delivering some of his most blunt come-ons ("Let me inside of you!") above '80s synths. Natural born talent, this one. — Bradley Stern
Sara Bareilles “She Used To Be Mine"
On 2013’s The Blessed Unrest, Sara Bareilles proved she could wound (“Manhattan”), hearten (“I Choose You”) or inspire (“Chasing the Sun”) with only a few choice depressions of her piano’s keys. And on “She Used to Be Mine,” the first release from her forthcoming Waitress-themed studio album, the instrument might as well be a pair of wings. Spoken from a broken-down, defeated server’s lips, the song begins slowly and listlessly, but balloons into something bright and unsinkable. It’s Broadway through and through, and proof New York’s Brooks Atkinson Theater will make a very suitable home for Waitress next spring.
— Matthew Scott Donnelly
Joanna Newsom, "Leaving the City"
Joanna Newsom’s lyrics often braid mythology, allusions to history and oblique references to her personal life — and “Leaving the City,” the otherworldly second song shared from her upcoming Divers album, is thick with the latter. Indie folk’s most famous harpist (and wife to Andy Samberg) examines a question every harried urban-dwelling couple has addressed at some point: “I believe in you, do you believe in me? / What do you want to do? Are we leaving the city?” Her exploration is an ardent one, and when her vocal delivery and the lush arrangements build to match her frenzied thoughts, it may be the closest Newsom's ever gotten to making a rock song. — Samantha Vincenty
Katharine McPhee, "Only One"
It would be easy to allow Katharine McPhee's new studio album, Hysteria, to slip under the pop radar — but that would be a mistake. The eccentric set is full of excellent pop offerings, from folky dance cuts to power ballads that showcase the same talented voice we got to know during her run on Idol Season 5. "Only One," an immediately catchy R&B-pop kiss-off a la JoJo, sees Kat at her sassiest ever ("You look like s--t to me!") while she shows off those melodic chops. Radio programmers, pay attention: She deserves more than just television glory. — Bradley Stern
Jimmy Eat World, “Big Casino”
Admission time: I, like many others, am powerless to the novelty of autumn, and one band that never fails to elicit the Pumpkin Spice Latte inside is Jimmy Eat World. The enduring emo-alternative JEW acted as a series of musical guideposts through my adolescent years, and “Big Casino” is the tonal equivalent to climbing up a hulking aluminum grandstand at a high school football game. It’s got stirring guitar, a sense of naïve optimism and the type of unclear metaphor (“they’ll say all the salt in the world couldn’t melt that ice”) on which teenage hope is built. — Matthew Scott Donnelly