songs of the week

8 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.

John Legend, “Darkness and Light”
Give me John Legend with Brittany Howard all day. All damn day. The slow, heavy soul of “Darkness and Light” slides down your gullet like honey, and before long, you’re drunk on the gorgeous companion vocals of these two phenomenal talents. The lyrics are longing and desperate and in less capable hands would run the risk of just sounding like some sweaty poetry, but with Legend and Howard together it’s a powerful testament to addictive passion. Let yourself lose control with this unstoppable love. —Jordan Crucchiola (@JorCru)

Childish Gambino, “Terrifed”
If there’s one good thing about 2016, it’s that at least Donald Glover finally found his voice. Not his auteurial voice — that he’s had for a while but only really just honed it on  Atlanta. I’m talking about his voice as Childish Gambino. For awhile, it seemed like, if you asked him, Glover couldn’t give you a straight answer for why he decided to become a musician. His work lacked purpose and passion, even when it was mildly enjoyable. Finally, he’s found an answer: You do it for the love. The love of music history, the love of the way music makes you feel, and for the love of spreading love. This was the ethos of Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain — which Gambino’s new George Clinton–indebted album draws on — and why “Terrified” casts a similar spell. It deals with paranoia, disappointment, and the power of sexual enlightenment. If this whole album feels like a dreamlike state to those who wish to awaken from Bino’s rap moratorium, this song is the part where you slip out of consciousness and into a trance from all that heavy bass.  — Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)

ANIMA!, “Moving Mountains”
ANIMA! wants to know: Are we just out here living to work and working to live? The laid-back beat on “Moving Mountains” and the wandering, pretty vocals belie a message of discontent about being a cog in the machine. Maybe it’s a little like the soundtrack to your daydream after you’ve popped your regular dose of Soma. Or maybe you don’t want to focus on your existential ennui, and it can just be a pretty song — which is exactly what The Man wants you to think! —JC

Julien Baker, “Decorated Lawns”
I didn’t wake up today expecting to cry — I guess no one ever does. Sometimes the stress, anger, and frustration of the daily grind gets to be so much you just need a good cathartic outburst. There’s no better companion for such a moment than Julien Baker. She’s got a new song “Decorated Lawns” for a charity holiday compilation to support mental health. Julien sings of returning to your family home around this time of year and how strange it feels to be caught between the familiar and the foreign. She’s trying to make new memories and fuse them with the old, connect two worlds that can no longer possibly coexist with time and distance wedged between them. There’s nothing immediately comforting about this song — she ends it by chillingly crying out, “I loved you more than I hate me” — in fact, it’ll probably make you want to wallow more. That’s not a bad thing: Be sad. We all have an emotional right to break down and give in to self-loathing. All we can hope for is that it only lasts as long as this deeply moving, unsettling song, then passes. —DL

Grace VanderWaal, “Beautiful Thing”
If Grace VanderWaal wasn’t 13 years old, this song might be too sappy to handle. But she is 13, so the tween’s original love song is just a pure delight, devoid of cynicism and complication. “You think that you know my heart. And you probably do. That’s why I’m always with you,” sings VanderWaal, with a voice that sounds it should belong to a wistful 33-year-old. It’s not a string of elaborate metaphors. It’s not a story. It’s just a thank-you note or a birthday card from your best friend or significant other — or more likely, the person who’s both at the same time. VanderWaal debuted this song on America’s Got Talent earlier this summer, and now she’s got a sweet little EP out filled with unself-conscious sentiment and acoustic instruments. May we all be lucky enough to find the person who tells us simply, “Without you I am boring.” —JC

Kehlani, “Advice”
At the beginning of next year, Kehlani will put out her proper debut album (what makes it more “proper” than her Grammy-nominated previous release, who knows), and with it will come this new song, “Advice.” Kehlani’s always been an introspective writer and she’s able to openly self-critique with an ease most would envy, but also be too scared to actually want to possess. “Advice” addresses her trying year and how it’s forced her to grow up and hold herself accountable rather than play the victim (a thing Rory Gilmore could learn), even when she is. Admitting to anyone that you feel your self-worth lowered after a relationship with the wrong man is brutal enough — admitting it to yourself? Yikes. It’s hard not to want to root for Kehlani. —DL

Raleigh Ritchie, “Unicron Loev”
Depending on your cultural intake, you might know Raleigh Ritchie better as actor Jacob Anderson, who is perhaps most famous for playing Khaleesi’s loyal foot soldier Grey Worm on Game of Thrones. But when Anderson has his Ritchie hat on he’s a pop crooner with a smoky, smooth kind of voice. His latest release is called “Unicron Loev,” which is very much sang as “Unicorn Love” within the song. Anderson really commits to the fantastical title at points, with lyrics like “when you’re around I see rainbows and stars,” and the track even wraps with the sound of galloping horse hooves and a chime flourish. That all might sounds like a bit much, but the beat itself is undeniable, and you won’t be able to stop your head from nodding and your feet from tapping in time with the percussion. And hey, what’s wrong with believing in miracles and magic anyway? —JC

Tennis, “In the Morning I’ll Be Better”
Because you can’t listen to Best Coast forever, here come Tennis, with your new favorite chill-wave escape. This sounds like what I’ve always imagined dropping acid on the beach, grabbing a surfboard, and riding an endless wave must feel like. Except in that scenario, when you inevitably crash, drown, and become shark bait, Alaina Moore’s angelic voice won’t be there to carry you back up to the surface of reality. —DL

This Week’s Best New Music