Best Songs We Heard This Week: Tori Kelly, Little Mix, Justin Bieber + More
Happy #NewMusicFriday! This Friday felt extra new, what with the grand return of Adele, a heartbreaker from Gwen Stefani and yet another solid banger from Justin Bieber. On this internationally-agreed-upon global release date, the PopCrush Staff is sifting through the best of the best of this week's new releases.
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...
Tori Kelly, “Hollow"
Tori Kelly said it best, herself, on her debut album, Unbreakable Smile: she’s just a girl with her guitar. So, color us surprised to hear one of 2015’s most promising vocalists do away with coffee shop chords for “Hollow,” a piano-painted, radio-ready thumper that includes instruction like “fill up my cup.” Kelly insisted to Z100 that the song is a love letter to her savior, but let’s just say this: you’d sooner hear the tune downing shots at last call than while receiving the blood of Christ at the altar. — Matthew Donnelly
Justin Bieber, “Sorry”
Justin Bieber launches into apology-mode on his new track “Sorry,” and he should — his recent releases have made reluctant fans out of even his most fervent haters, and it’s a confusing feeling to grapple with. But we’re all surrendering for good reason — the tropical house beat on “Sorry” transforms what could’ve been an overwrought, weepy ballad into an infectious dance track, though it's more subdued than you’d normally expect from co-writer and producer Skrillex. Stylistically, the track falls in line with previous EDM hits “What Do You Mean?” and “Where Are You Now?” But rather than sound like a cheap derivative of those songs, “Sorry” acts as another piece of what will hopefully be a fully cohesive puzzle. I hate to say it, but if the rest of Purpose follows suit, Bieber'll have nothing to apologize for. — Ali Szubiak
Gwen Stefani, "Used To Love You"
Gwen Stefani, avid PopCrush reader, evidently saw my plea for more balladry, debuting her crushing new ballad "Used To Love You" live at her one-off showcase in New York City last weekend. Just days later, the studio version arrived, complete with an oh-so-Sinead O'Connor-esque visual. Pharrell-assisted emoji bops be damned — this is the raw-nerved, post-divorce Stefani we really want, and the kind of catharsis she probably needs. — Bradley Stern
Christine and the Queens, “Tilted”
Christine and the Queens is technically one person, like Marina and the Diamonds and Passion Pit, and her real name is Héloïse Letissier. The French singer-songwriter’s self-titled debut ranges from artsy dance jams to quirky “freakpop,” but “Tilted” is just downright catchy. I’m a sucker for a song with some good percussive breathing. The spoken-word rap halfway through could have sounded like some disaffected Blondie’s-“Rapture”-verse rehash in English, but sounds undeniably cool in French against the thumping beat. – Samantha Vincenty
Adele’s music has never affected me the way memes and SNL skits have told me it affects others. In the days before her comeback officially dropped, I joked about writing a searing “Is Adele Overrated?” think piece (“joked,” because the idea of dismissing that voice and its impact on people is absurd). But then, very early this morning, I listened to “Hello” as I watched Tristan Wilds act as Adele’s, my, everyone’s lost love, and that’s when it finally happened: She launched into “Hello from the other siiiiide,” and I felt my heart open and my eyes burn. I thought about that one ex of mine and, sure, our relationship was like living in Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” video, but wouldn’t it be great to reach out maybe just one more time? I get it now. I can finally say it: I’ve been Adele’d. – Samantha Vincenty
Kita Alexander, "Like You Want To"
Meet your new favorite dream-pop darling, Kita Alexander. There's not a ton we know yet about the pleasant-voiced 19-year-old Australian singer-songwriter, aside from the fact that she's just served up a stunner of a post-summer jam in the form of "Like You Want To." Inspired by a summer spent recording and surfing in LA, the track feels like a familiar send-off into the chilly season. Earlier this year, Kita got the blogosphere a-buzzin' with her similarly smooth "My Own Way." Here's to even more good vibrations when her upcoming debut EP rolls around. — Bradley Stern
Ben Haenow, “Second Hand Heart (feat. Kelly Clarkson)"
I had real misgivings about listening to this song. Signing on to record with a relatively unknown X Factor winner—especially after having canceled a tour for a sort of indolent album—felt like Kelly Clarkson delicately placing one foot in the industry grave. But hey: “Second Hand Heart” isn’t bad, and it’s a direction in which Clarkson, herself, should potentially continue traveling. The track’s strummy, got a subtle country tone and picks up in the chorus to allow for prime Kelly-belts. Plus, where Clarkson typically sings circles around duet partners (Jason Aldean might as well be whispering in “Don’t You Wanna Stay”), she and Haenow quickly find a nice, complementary stride. — Matthew Donnelly
Little Mix, “Weird People”
Little Mix may never get their due diligence in the U.S. and that’s a shame. After an utter lack of promotion caused their stellar R&B-inspired sophomore album Salute to flop, the foursome went in a slightly different direction for their third album. So far, the results have been promising. Despite spanning a variety of eras (bubble-gum pop with “Black Magic,” ‘50s doo-wop with “Love Me Like You” and the drum-heavy, anthemic “Hair”), the songs have remained consistently pop and consistently good. Their latest release, the ‘80s-inflected “Weird People,” stays heavy on the synths and vocoder effects, with the group’s self-assured vocals coming off as equal parts skilled and sassy. “Weird People” is pure pop fun and deserves the Top 40 radio push “Move” never got. — Ali Szubiak
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