songs of the week

6 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.

Kanye West feat. Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, and The-Dream, “Ultralight Beam”
Kanye always knows which songs deserve late-night eyes — the last two times he blessed SNL, he gave them the live debuts of “Wolves” (on SNL 40), as well as “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves” (both back in 2013). Now he’s moved on to dropping whole albums on SNL, but not before he could prove to skeptics that — freewheeling tweet storms and confusing roll-outs aside — his music, the nucleus of this whole spectacle, is still worth their time. If I had to sell The Life of Pablo off one song, “Ultralight Beam” is a god dream of a single that will never makes sense as one. It’s an exorcism in song form (it begins with a clip from a viral video of a little girl commanding, “We don’t want no devils in the house!”), one that will at once have Kelly Price and Kirk Franklin take you to church, and see Chance the Rapper anoint himself Kanye’s loyal disciple (“I met Kanye West, I’m never gonna fail”). Kanye West is very much an afterthought on this song — it’s hard to preach the good word when you’re the one in need of saving. Believe him when he says this is everything. TLOP is an album about suffering, about a crisis of faith, both personal and spiritual, but above all it’s about dreams. Those beautifully rare ultralight beams. —Dee Lockett  (@Dee_Lockett)

St. Vincent, “Emotional Rescue”
Some songs just ooze sex; so do some people. Tilda Swinton, St. Vincent, and Mick Jagger are those kind of people, and they each make those kind of songs (obviously for Tilda her songs are her films). Combining the three should be illegal, but here we have St. Vincent covering the Rolling Stones’ “Emotional Rescue” for Tilda Swinton’s new movie, A Bigger Splash. Jackpot! The original has so many shades of the Bee Gees (particularly in Mick’s upper register), but St. Vincent’s is all Prince, thanks in part to some assistance from Kendrick Lamar faves Terrace Martin and Sounwave. Sweaty, funky, orgasmic Prince. —DL

Sara Hartman, “Stranger in a Room”
German newcomer Sara Hartman covers Jamie xx’s “Stranger in a Room” to gloriously sentimental results. Her version comes with a thumping heartbeat of a tempo with sharply accented guitar chord transitions. It resembles the emotion of Alessia Cara’s “Here” without the overarching message. Hartman will be one to watch in 2016, especially if she can muster more original songs, like last year’s “Monster Lead Me Home.” —Justin McCraw (@JustinMcCraw)

James Blake, “Modern Soul”
For whatever reason, James Blake has been keeping his new album from us for months. It’s possible it’s not done yet; after all, Kanye’s not the easiest guy to get to commit to a schedule, and Blake has said he’ll be on it. At least until he delivers, he’s still quenching our thirst with one-offs, the latest being “Modern Soul,” a fitting title given Blake’s whole aesthetic. It’s typically gorgeous and feels like it could go on forever, no matter how many times Blake’s feathery voice tells you, “I want it to be over.” —DL

1975, “Somebody Else”
The boys of 1975 return with a single that may be a critique of app-driven dating culture. “I’m looking through you while / You’re looking through your phone / And then leaving with somebody else.” It’s a broken-heart-type love song that spreads smooth electronica with shades of the ’80s. I can imagine these guys being at a bar in sunglasses and shoulder-padded blazers trying to get on with their lives, while still holding on to what could have been. Despite the synthesized voices near the end that detract a bit, I would still swipe right on this song. —JM

Kendrick Lamar, “Untitled 3”
Did you really think Kendrick’s big Grammy-owning night would come and go without new bars from K.Dot? Every time Kendrick has performed on TV in the last year it seems like he’s debuted something new, and Monday night was no exception. After a chill-inducing medley of “The Blacker the Berryand Best Rap Song “Alright,” he dived into a brand-new stanza, especially for the Grammys. Ask any black person and they’ll tell you we entered a new civil-rights era on February 26, 2012, the day Trayvon Martin was murdered for being black. It changed everything, including, as Kendrick tells it, any progress we were foolish to think we’d made. “2012 was taken from the world to see / Set us back another 400 years / This is modern-day slavery.” —DL

This Week’s Best New Music