Best Songs We Heard This Week: One Direction, Ellie Goulding, Sara Bareilles + More
Happy #NewMusicFriday! Before you head out for the weekend, we’re sorted through some of the best releases on this internationally-agreed-upon global release date of Friday, personally 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…
Bully, “I Remember”
Bully’s “I Remember,” is a fast-paced bullet of a breakup song, with thrashing guitars and the kind of guttural vocals that recall a Pretty on the Inside-era Courtney Love. Lead singer and guitarist Alicia Bognanno's seamless transition from a crackling shout to a soft hum makes for something of an auditory mirror of the lyrics, melding the good with the bad: "I remember getting too f—ked up / And I remember throwing up in your car / I remember / I remember showing up at your house / And I remember hurting you so bad.” That paired with crashing cymbals and the track’s low-fi production makes for one hell of a punch — served mightily to the listener in just under two minutes. — Ali Szubiak
Ellie Goulding, "Devotion"
Ellie Goulding finally succumbed to her reality — she's destined to be a major pop superstar, damnit! — and so she's enlisted some of pop's best producers to create her glossy, most mainstream record to date, Delirium. That being said, this ain't no trend-hopping technique: The album retains Ellie's left-of-center electro-pop essence, as with "Devotion," an entirely odd mash-up of her folky sensibility and some strange, vocoded trance robot moments dedicated to an obsessive kind of love. Don't worry. I'm still hopelessly devoted to you, Ellie. — Bradley Stern
Sara Bareilles, “Opening Up"
A few takeaways from my very first Sara Bareilles show last night in New York City:
1.) Christ, she has a beautiful tone
2.) I could construct a spritsail out of this crowd’s shapeless wool cardigans
3.) I can’t believe a major record label stood behind a pop album-complement to a Broadway show that hasn’t even premiered yet, but I’m very glad it did
Bareilles, who wrote the music for Waitress, has never struggled—in the years since the stinging “Love Song”—to get her point across. And with the release of What’s Inside, she proves she doesn’t struggle to make a fictional world-weary pie-maker’s points, either. Featuring Jason Mraz, the album’s got the delicacy of a soufflé and a meringue’s lemony punch packed into a single 12-track serving, and “Opening Up,” a jittery Ben Folds-ish piano number, finds the singer-songwriter in her dream kitchen. They say most chefs steer clear of pastry because there’s too much risk involved—thankfully, Bareilles isn’t scared off by the music world’s temperamental ovens. — Matthew Donnelly
Artists don't usually go weirder with time, but don't tell that to BANKS. The brooding, alt-experimental-R&B-whatever-you-wanna-call-it singer's first taste of what's to come from her Goddess follow-up promises to be something much darker and twisted than anything she's done before, recalling a hint of FKA twigs. The song feels a bit too short, clocking in at just 3 minutes, but still manages to paint a smoky, ever-mysterious picture. This all bodes well for her next chapter. — Bradley Stern
One Direction, “History”
With its insistent hand claps, gang vocals and mellow, acoustic guitars, “History” is the 2015 equivalent to a Randy Newman song. It’s folksy and a little cheesy, but the lyrics speak to how well the band knows its audience. Harry Styles echoes the thoughts of 1D fans everywhere when he sings, “You gotta help me / I’m losing my mind / Keep getting’ the feeling you wanna leave this all behind / Thought we were going strong / I thought we were holding on / Aren’t we?” And, well, they’re not, are they? No matter how the band members may try and frame it, the group is set to take its final bow any day now. They try and assure fans anyway: “This is not the end / This is not the end,” but Louis Tomlinson's delivery is a little too frenzied to wholeheartedly believe. There’s weary relief on this track, like One Direction are looking anxiously toward the finish line. Still, the song’s singalong quality is enough to make fans forget, at least for a few more months. — Ali Szubiak
Little Mix, “The End"
If Little Mix sought to deliver bright, lively radio hits with their third album, Get Weird, they succeeded: “Black Magic”’s got ‘80s cheer and “Weird People” will likely play out high school dances for weeks to come. But the novelty of flash and glitz is just embellishment to the group’s more important bottom line: They’re great singers who know how to harmonize, and “The End,” an a cappella track that will give Mixers flashbacks to “Boy,” delivers on all fronts. A scaled-down foil to the barbershop-bluesy “Love Me Like You,” the vocals are as tight as a U-Haul’s bungee cords on move-in day. Little Mix has a best singer and another that struggles to keep up, but you wouldn’t know it here—isn’t that something. — Matthew Donnelly