songs of the week

11 Best New Songs of the Week

Every week, Vulture and friends highlight the best new music. If the song is worthy of your ears and attention, you will find it here. Read our picks below, share yours in the comments, and subscribe to the Vulture Playlist for a comprehensive guide to the year’s best music.

Azealia Banks, “The Big Big Beat”
It was true with her breakout “212,” and it’s be true since: Azealia Banks has a way with a dance song. To put it boringly, it’s her ability to play with and against the rhythm, hitting the 1-2-3-4 hard only to then break off it. The best part is you can’t read Twitter while dancing. —Jesse David Fox (@JesseDavidFox)

Jelani Blackman’s “Sincere”
Londoner Jelani Blackman’s aptly named 1-4 EP features three previously released singles and the haunting newcomer “Sincere.” A slow-moving song full of lustful waves of emotion, the former grime performer frets about “a love like titans.” Give Blackman a listen. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy “Sincere,” you’ll have three other chances on the EP to find something you do. ­—Justin McCraw (@JustinMcCraw)

Bat for Lashes, “I Do”
If Marnie’s wedding to Desi wasn’t a freaking disaster, this would’ve been a sweet little song to play while she walked down the aisle on last week’s Girls. You’re on notice, music supervisors — place this song in your next wedding scene. It’ll be on-the-nos,e but moving. —JDF

French Montana feat. Kanye West and Nas, “Figure It Out”
This most recent G.O.O.D. Friday treat has French Montana taking a poignant look at the trials and conundrums that accompany fame. Against a soulful backdrop, the rapper notably mentions his late friend Chinx and the incarcerated icon Max B: “Why Eazy ain’t have the Magic? / Why AI never won a ‘ship,” Montana asks. “And why God took Max and Chinx / And he ain’t take me when I got hit?” The track, which can also be found on Montana’s recently released Wave Gods tape, includes Yeezy and Nas — the latter of whom delivers an expectedly triumphant verse. —Sean Fitz-Gerald (@srkfitzgerald

Frightened Rabbit, “Death Dream”
I love Frightened Rabbit, but they’ve been in a bit of a rut, unable to expand upon their sound in a way that felt as exciting as their earlier stripped-down material. Enter Aaron Dessner, one of the National’s twin guitarists and a skilled producer at bringing more texture to the music of folk-leaning artists (see: Sharon Van Etten). This really is a beautiful song. Also, because it’s Frightened Rabbit, it’s tremendously sad: “You died in your sleep last night” is not only a lyric in the song, it’s the damn refrain. Added bonus for Staind or Comedy Bang! Bang! fans: They sing “It’s been awhile” a bunch. —JDF

Funkadelic feat. Kendrick Lamar and Ice Cube, “Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?” (“We Ain’t Neva Gonna Stop” Remix)
When Kendrick’s verse was added to this song in last year’s Louie Vega mix, the result was an addictive, fast-paced, funky gem. The new “We Ain’t Neva Gonna Stop” cut moves Kendrick to the top, slows the magic back down, and adds a touch of Ice Cube. The tweaks make for another multi-layered treasure that will make you savor all 5:08 of it, because “Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?” is the time-traveling, genre-bending groove that keeps on giving. —SFG

Jim E-Stack feat. Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter, “Hyperballad” (Björk Cover)
My first girlfriend out of college was a contemporary dancer. Contemporary dance, as she explained, is like modern dance, but to hip, cool songs. Her go-to number was Björk’s beautiful “Hyperballad.” The dance was angular and vulnerable. She then cheated on me with another dancer, a fact I found out from her AIM away message (I am literally one million years old). This cover sounds like that, with all the vulnerable beauty of the original, but with more angular textures and a real sense of foreboding. —JDF

Romp, “Backfire”
Not enough songs start with the chorus. Don’t hide your light under a bushel, and don’t hide your chorus behind your verse. While we’re using clichés to talk about choruses: If you’ve got it, flaunt it. The point is this song’s chorus kicks ass. It’s so catchy, it would’ve been perfect to play during the opening credits of a late-’90s MTV animated series. —JDF

’Sorority Noise, “Either Way”
Ballads are funny out of context. Designed to be the relief, the contrast to the band’s standard fare, they lose something when they aren’t being compared to the rest of the band’s work. More than being just a pretty song, “Either Way” is a pretty Sorority Noise song. So, I’d suggest you listen to one of their other songs first, or maybe just consider that they sound not like Weezer but like an emo-leaning punk band that definitely likes Weezer. —JDF

Stars, “Streatlights” (Kanye West Cover)
In the wake of The Life of Pablo’s release, my life has been consumed by all things Kanye, for better or for worse (definitely better when “Ultralight Beam” is involved), which is why I stumbled on Stars’ cover of his 808s & Heartbreak standout “Street Lights.” A synth-pop outfit out of Montreal, Stars has made a career out of coupling pop hooks with knowing, joyous ennui, and their take on Kanye’s salute to loneliness manages to turn his essential (and fascinating) self-obsession outward. The track begins with soft-edged piano and vocals and then fills out into a blissful mix of chorus, drums, and brooding guitar before letting the floor fall out once again. The original offers no sanctuary but its own insistent alienation; the cover builds a bubblegum cathedral, pops it, and leaves you back on the street. “We do a slightly better version of streetlights than he does,” Stars wrote on their SoundCloud. “And we believe women. ‪#‎outboastkanye ‪#‎billcosbynotinnocent.” Like many Ye-adjacent things, I don’t know if I believe the boast, but I’m fascinated by the statement.  —Jackson McHenry (@McHenryJD)     

Waxahatchee, “With You” (Jessica Simpson Cover)
Ugh, what a perfect marriage of song and artist. Actually first heard during the season finale of the last season of Girls, this song was released last week as part of the third volume of the show’s soundtrack. Waxahatchee strips away the song’s very dated, turn-of-the-century textures, leaving the sweet melody. Jessica Simpson was always the country bubblegum-pop artist, even if her music never really sounded that country; Waxahatchee similarly has the ability to sound country without actually making country music. It’s the weight; the lived-in quality. —JDF