Best Songs We Heard This Week: Tegan & Sara, Rihanna, Holychild + More
Happy Friday, PopCrush readers! As we do each and every week, we've dug through all the excellent releases that got us through it these past few days, including some great finds that popped up early on this #NewMusicFriday.
Check out all of the staff picks below — and if you'd like to keep up with more of our personalized picks, make sure to subscribe to us on Apple Music.
Nick Jonas, “Bacon”
Unless you are of the vegetarian variety, you likely agree that bacon is well worth the hype machine it suffered through back in 2012, when various retailers and restaurants incorporated it into every piece of merchandise and food item available. If you are Nick Jonas, you probably started that incessant craze, because judging by his latest release, the only way to make a situation all the better is to “throw some bacon on it.” Are you following? Neither am I, but the song is so good, so smooth and slick, it’s an easy line to ignore. Sure, it’s vaguely reminiscent of Jesse McCartney’s “Buy You A Drank” cover, in that “Bacon” embodies the kind of corny white-boy R&B that’s become Nick Jonas’ signature sound by now. But if you’re looking to listen to a song that is serious in its mention of food’s most coveted breakfast meat, let it at least be as catchy as this. — Ali Szubiak
Fantasia, “Sleeping With the One I Love"
When it comes to Fantasia’s forthcoming The Definition Of…, genre is shaping up to be a five-letter word. On the heels of calypso slow-burn “So Blue” and the country-steeped “Ugly” comes “Sleeping With the One I Love,” a dramatic, horn-tinged ballad befitting of a Tom Jones tribute telethon. Featuring competing pockets of crescendo and runaway strings, it’d fine a comfortable home between blackjack tables in Casino Royale. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess where Fantasia’s fifth LP will go, but each peek has been more promising than the last -- if a modern classic could still exist, it would sound something like this. — Matthew Donnelly
Holychild and Kate Nash, "Rotten Teeth"
Holychild’s brand of bombastic brat-pop is the sort of music that makes me want to raid a convenience store for deliciously bad-for-you treats at 2 a.m. Cheetos, Sour Patch Kids, Hot Fries, Butterfingers, Orange Crush — I’d grab it all, hit the highway with my girlfriends and turn “Rotten Teeth,” the latest cavity-inducing track from the California duo, all the way up. Featuring indie-pop babe Kate Nash, the colorful collaboration is a madcap mess of topical beats, ‘80s electro, and alt-pop quirk, and the video is just as wacky, with a running visual commentary on women’s body hair: Candy floss bush! Pastel razors! Glittery beards! Yeah, hold the hot wax — pass the Manic Panic. - Erica Russell
Madeline Juno, "You Know What?"
Madeline Juno's Salvation is an airy, melodic delight out of Germany, and one of the records that made a largely uninteresting spring season of pop music much more manageable. It was only a matter a time before understated album standout "You Know What?" was given the single treatment. The heartfelt tune is inspired by Gus Van Sant's 2011 film Restless, which is about a boy who falls in love with a girl who has cancer, and very little time left to live. Accordingly, the video pulls from the emotional source material — and goes straight for the heartstrings, too. — Bradley Stern
Tegan & Sara, “Faint of Heart"
Chasing after trends or forecasting popular gimmicks is of no concern to the Canadian twin sister-duo on their eighth studio album: Love You to Death is unabashed pop at its purest. True, it’s a departure from an indie past (they told the Los Angeles Times the scene had become “stifling”), but the result is weightless and sincere, and “Faint of Heart” is its relentlessly cheery handshake. Neither the sound (synth paired with deep, marked drum hits) nor story (forbidden love) is particularly novel, but the Greg Kurstin-produced track still shines for its style and tightness – here, the sisters offer a friendly reminder that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel as long as it supports an exciting ride. — Matthew Donnelly
Mike WiLL Made-It featuring Rihanna, “Nothing Is Promised”
One of the unexpected joys of Rihanna’s Anti was the ways in which she experimented with her vocals, from the percussive delivery on “Bitch Better Have My Money” to her Kevin-Parker-by-way-of-RiRi on Tame Impala cover “Same Ol’ Mistakes.” And on Mike WiLL’s “Nothing Is Promised” off his forthcoming Ransom 2 album — a collaboration the two have been teasing since July of last year — we basically learn what Rihanna sounds like with a gritty Future-style flow. It sounds pretty damn good, turns out, particularly as it melds with her Barbadian lilt. It’s also something of a callback to Mike WiLL and Rihanna’s previous collaboration/sure-fire strip club anthem, “Pour It Up.” - Samantha Vincenty
Singer-songwriter on the rise Aaron Pfieffer first made waves across the blogosphere last year with his Nightcall EP, including the inescapably catchy "Can't Shake This." (The chorus is, ironically, unshakable.) He's dug deeper with this month's "Real," a slower atmospheric electronic ballad that provides Phil Collins-style airiness, a touch of guitar twang and sweet, sweet crooning that gently come through like an oh-so-intimate confession. "Is this something real / Am I making it up?" he questions. Let's all find out together. — Bradley Stern
Fifth Harmony, “Not That Kinda Girl”
“Not That Kinda Girl” channels the best of the ‘80s in a way that’s markedly different from what most of Fifth Harmony's contemporaries (barring the massively under-appreciated Little Mix) are doing. With all of its bouncy, Prince-inspired synths and Michael Jackson-like inflections, the track strikes just the right balance between homage and rip-off without ever taking itself too seriously. Throw in a guest feature from the legendary Missy Elliott and you’ve got your top contender for Song of Summer 2016 and beyond. — Ali Szubiak
Brooke Candy, "Nasty"
When you think Brooke Candy, is the first thing that comes to mind Looney Tunes? No? Me neither… at least, before I saw the eccentric pop diva’s new video for “Nasty,” that is. A Technicolor explosion of totally bonkers fantasies — from dressing up as a rhinestone cowgirl to cuddle a snake, to going on a cartoonish joyride while wearing a leopard cat-suit — Brooke is equal parts Betty Boop and Jessica Rabbit in the clip. A departure from her more signature dark, edgy electro-rap leanings, the track is a saccharine doo-wop pop bop, with a particularly biting chorus: “Don’t kiss that ho he nasty / Almost put one past me / Got my homegirl last week / Nasty, nasty!” – Erica Russell
Even when one of Beck’s genre switch-ups isn’t my cup of tea, with 12 studio albums and countless side projects under his belt, the consistent quality of his releases is borderline disconcerting. “Wow” is 100% my cup of tea, and marries ‘90s nerdy hip-hop days of “Hollywood Freaks” and Odelay with the over-the-top electro production so ubiquitous in today’s pop landscape. The lyrics are as life-affirming as they are absurdist, the production is flawless and the equally-slick cover art makes the track’s “summer jam” goals clear. It’s certainly an early contender. – Samantha Vincenty