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Best Songs We Heard This Week: Chairlift, Birdy, Sia + More


Happy New Year, PopCrushers! We’re back with yet another installment of Best Songs We Heard This Week — the first of 2016.

In keeping with the spirit of the New Year (#NEWYEARNEWMUSIC), there’s a whole bunch of promising new up-and-coming talent featured on our playlists at the moment, and we’re excited to introduce you to some of the songs we’ve been spinning all week long. And, with any luck, these artists will only continue to appear throughout the year.

Speaking of playlists, make sure you stay up to date with all of our mixes on Apple Music.

And now, onto the new…

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Chairlift, “Crying In Public”

The duo’s latest song from their upcoming Moth album finds singer Caroline Polachek, who co-wrote and co-produced Beyoncé’s “No Angel”, “causing a scene on the train” with her inability to keep it stoic in front of strangers. Lyrics that’d make Morrissey jealous abound, including “Like the peach you split open with two thumbs, I’m the half without a stone / And my heart is a hollow with a space for your own,” as synths and guitar crest at the chorus and cede to Polachek’s lament on the verses. This one goes out to anyone who’s ever bawled their eyes out on the F train [guilty as charged]. – Samantha Vincenty

Alex Vargas, “Shackled Up”

The British and Danish singer/producer’s latest could score a midnight stroll through a graveyard: it’s eerie, unconcealed and starkly beautiful. Featuring howl-at-the-moon falsetto and relentless taps at a drum pad, “Shackled Up” has got modern electronic appeal, but still feels a little bit medieval, and the unleashing of Vargas’ full voice by the song’s end could raise the dead–in the event they hadn’t already swung open their tombs. — Matthew Donnelly

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Wet, “All The Ways”

Wet’s made a splash (I’ll be here all night, thank you) already on PopCrush’s Best Songs We Heard This Week, and at this rate, they’ll be making a cameo all the way until the release of their debut, Don’t You, on January 29. Like a cross between London Grammar and BROODS, lead singer Kelly Zutrau glides through airy, understated R&B and warm flourishes of synths and piano as she explains her oh-so-complicated feelings. “I don’t ever want to leave you and I don’t ever want to be alone again / But every time I see you, I think of all the ways that this could end.” It’s the lyrical stuff of moody AIM away message and Instagram caption dreams. For fellow neurotic lovers, this one’s an instant win. — Bradley Stern

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Sia, “Reaper”

A song originally intended for, but ultimately rejected by, Rihanna (it was meant to appear on the possibly fabled album Anti), “Reaper” is a bright burst of a pop gem. Co-written and produced by Kanye West, the colorful track sticks to Sia’s revelatory, winning formula: A deceptively upbeat song with lyrics that suggest a vague conquering of death and darkness. Truly, there’s a whole lot of light here: With its consistent, steady percussion, hand claps and Sia’s soulful vocal delivery “Reaper” is as feel-good and peppy as it gets, while mercifully lacking even the slightest semblance of cheese factor. — Ali Szubiak

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Wild Belle, “Throw Down Your Guns”

Chicago’s Wild Belle’s biggest hit thus far has been the reggae-laced “Keep You,” but “Throw Down Your Guns” is an excellent excuse to revisit their range. Natalie Bergman flips Eazy E’s infamous refrain, “Nobody move, nobody get hurt” over saxophone courtesy of Bergman’s brother and band mate Elliot. One of the more interesting voices in modern indie-pop, Bergman’s delivery edges into (welcome) Santigold territory at times, set to a galloping beat punctuated by hand claps. – Samantha Vincenty

Cellars, “Nighttime Girl”

Cellars’ Alle Norton might have been born in 1990, but she sure knows her way around the ‘80s. Her latest single “Nighttime Girl” is a subtle downer of a song, with just enough rousing synth to mask all its lyrical sadness. Still, it’s an undeniable ear worm and one that expertly straddles that fine line between darkness and warmth. The ‘80s may still be bafflingly in vogue in the current pop lexicon, but when its re-imaginings sound like this, we remain unbothered. If only the rest of them were nearly as good. — Ali Szubiak

James Morrison, “We Can”

James Morrison’s leap from traditional soul-pop into more radio-ready polish isn’t seamless on Higher Than Here, released in the United States today, but it works on “We Can.” The song, which softly distends in pockets, could have been plucked from Lenny Kravitz’s 5 era or complemented Seal’s “Crazy,” but a more pronounced, pulsing undertone keeps it contemporary. Still, Skrillex won’t be pounding down Morrison’s door–the vocalist’s throaty Joplin-wails keep his feet planted in the ‘60s. Thankfully, that’s right where he belongs. — Matthew Donnelly

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Birdy, “Keeping Your Head Up”

Still in search of a last-minute New Year’s resolution? Hold tight: Birdy’s got you with her anthemic new single. Released at the start of January, the UK singer provides all the inspiration needed to confidently march into 2016. “Let go of all your haunted dreams tonight / I’ll be keeping your head up!” she declares, recalling similarly soulful anthems from Florence + The Machine and Jess Glynne — a soaring change of pace from her usual downtempo, understated affair. Let’s all do better this year, okay? — Bradley Stern

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Next: Best Songs We Heard This Week — Jeremih, The 1975 + More

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