songs of the week

9 Best New Songs of the Week

Every week, Vulture highlights 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.

Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like”
It’s truly unfair how far above the songwriting curve Bruno Mars is compared to most of his peers. This man was probably humming hits from the womb, and his new album, 24K Magic, is a pop juggernaut. There isn’t a bad song on this album, hard as that probably is to believe. “That’s What I Like” is the far and away standout after a few first listens. It hits that sweet spot between all of Mars’s multiple personas — papi chulo, doo-wop crooner, and dance-floor king — which is to say it’s a total bop. The kind of timeless song we’ll all be two-stepping to from now until we’re on the way to the grave. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)

Metallica, “Halo on Fire”
At more than eight minutes long, “Halo” is like a best-of Metallica sampler. The more restrained verses give tons of room for James Hetfield’s melancholy metal crooner voice to shine, before he opens it up again and wails through the chorus while Lars Ulrich punches you in the chest with his drumbeat. By the time the instrumental bridge arrives Kirk Hammett is shredding away and Hetfield’s signature guitar tone drops in to accent the whole track. Metallica is so back, you guys. —Jordan Crucchiola (@JorCru)

Kevin Abstract, “Runner”
It’s hard to talk about Kevin Abstract without mentioning Frank Ocean. After all, two of Ocean’s faves, Michael Uzowuru and Om’Mas Keith, co-produced the majority of Abstract’s phenomenal new album, American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story. It’s equal parts Channel Orange and Blonde in that it’s concerned with small-town storytelling, big-city dreaming, end-of-summer ennui, and crafting pretty pop songs about not-so-pretty feelings like rejection. That’s the Frank Ocean blueprint. But Abstract is only 20-years-old and his youth informs a completely different kind of energy and way with words: On a gorgeous half-ballad like “Runner,” Abstract hasn’t yet been crushed by the weight of wrestling with questions about sexuality, sense of self, and acceptance. There’s still hope on the surface of his voice. I can’t wait to see how it’ll mature as he does. —DL

Kyko, “Nature”          
“Nature” can be filed under one of my favorite genres: “Songs That Sound Like They Could Play During the Feel-Good Conclusion of a Teen Movie.” It’s the scene that comes after the emotionally fraught climax where everyone takes responsibility for the things they did wrong, and then they laugh through tears at an inside joke. It’s the song that plays when two people who’ve found their way to each other finally hold hands and kiss. It’s got good vibes, and we could all use some of those right now. —JC

The Weeknd, “Party Monster”
Now that The Weeknd got that Michael Jackson impression out of his system, it appears he’s back to the regularly scheduled programming of making soundtracks to your coked-up nights. No one listens to The Weeknd to practice their moonwalk; we have Bruno Mars for that. “Party Monster” is a return to debaucherous form, more tales from his self-destructive mind where nothing else but the woman (or women) he plans on making his conquest for one night only matters. And let’s be honest, she doesn’t matter a whole lot. Like all the best Weeknd songs, it’s a dark, twisted fantasy that no ever really wakes up from. —DL

Jorja Smith, “Carry Me Home”
This song starts with a minute-long spoken-word intro that is too sexy to skip over, and it sets you up perfectly for the longing in Jorja Smith’s beautiful voice. “Carry me home. Bear my weight on your shoulders. Carry me home. Nothing else matters,” Smith sings, with the perfectly evocative image of resting your body against another person when you can’t hold yourself up anymore — either physically or emotionally. It would be great for a slow dance if it weren’t so damn sad, so instead just sit with your feelings and soak it all in. —JC

John Legend ft. Chance the Rapper, “Penthouse Floor”
Some men are just born smooth, and only get smoother with age. John Legend is that dude and, to a degree, Chance is working in his image. Though I can’t ever see Chance going full R&B romantic — it’s Chance, the rapper —  he’s right at home beside Legend on John’s new song “Penthouse Floor.” What has always put Legend in a league of his own is he makes sensual songs that transcend the bedroom. Penthouse clubs are sexy spaces where sexy people do sexy things, but they’re also exclusive. And in that world, people of color don’t fit their definition of sexy. Legend and Chance aren’t simply talking about a night of passion, they’re criticizing the whole broken system of social currency to which neither of them would be invited were it not for their status. And even then, it’s not guaranteed. That Legend knew to dress up his commentary with an erotic bassline and a knock-knock joke from Chance is pure genius. Only he can get you to get down to a protest song. —DL

The Lips, “Trouble in Paradise”
If you’re in the mood for some mellow, white soul–style indie pop then “Trouble in Paradise” should fit the bill. It’s smooth and pretty and easy to get lost in, and sometimes that’s all you need. —JC

Childish Gambino, “Redbone”
Can we all just take a moment to give thanks for whatever epiphany Donald Glover had that made him stop rapping? Look, I liked Because the Internet as much as the next sucker, but Glover was pretty much born to make Funkadelic-driven tunes. When has this man ever played to convention? His new album as Childish Gambino is an exclusively sung affair, which may shock anyone who either never listened to “Sober” or just plain forgot how multi-talented Glover is. Nothing about this experiment sounds like it should work, but it always does with Glover at the helm. “Redbone,” its terrible title aside, is a mesmerizing fever dream, one conjured up by the likes of Prince and George Clinton. It’s soulful, sensuous, and raw like you wouldn’t believe. I’m still having a hard time accepting that that’s Bino’s falsetto. Boy has the range. —DL

This Week’s Best New Music