songs of the week

7 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.

Green Day, “Johnny B. Goode” (Chuck Berry cover)
We can’t start this week’s post without taking pause to remember the life and legacy of Chuck Berry. Without him, this column wouldn’t exist because a good portion of the music we feature wouldn’t get made had Chuck not paved the way for those song’s inception. Since Chuck Berry’s death, so many legends — Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, etc. — were among the first to give credit where it’s due. Many then did what rock stars do when one of their own has fallen and covered “Johnny B. Goode” in tribute. Everyone from Sting to Bon Jovi performed it, but I’ll always be partial to Green Day. Their version is as rollicking as the original — after all, Billie Joe Armstrong did learn how to play the electric guitar from Chuck — but it adds Jason Freese’s sax to kick it up another notch. Here’s to imagining Chuck’s approval of the cover would’ve come by way of one of his infamous snarky punk reviews. RIP, Mr. Berry. There’ll never be another. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)

Perfume Genius, “Slip Away”
The first single from Perfume Genius’ just-announced new album includes the sound of a battlefield, even though its message is tranquil. “Baby, let all them voices slip away,” he sings, just before the deafening crash of electric drums comes in like a dirty industrial shock wave. The electric noise is eventually accompanied by a harpsichord, creating a tug-of-war (or is it a dance?) between old and new. Love hasn’t felt this radical since 1984. —Gabe Cohn (@gabescohn)

Miami Horror, “Sign of the Times”
When you don’t have time to watch Jonathan Demme’s concert film Stop Making Sense, maybe just play this song a few times instead. The influence of the Talking Heads is so thick in this song it’s possible you’ll forget you aren’t listening to the song “Once in a Lifetime,” and since that song is really, really good, so is this one! “Sign of the Times” has a kicky little groove built for all manner of dancing — jumping up and down, maybe doing a light robot, Elaine Benes–style thumbs-up kicks, or maybe just running in circles until you fall over. Whatever makes you happy. —Jordan Crucchiola (@JorCru)

Feist, “Pleasure”
Feist. Is. Back. Rejoice! Look, few do plaintive works of intense introspection and soul-searching as well as Feist. And now that she’s returning with a new album after six years, the void feels full again. The way Feist proclaims, “It’s my pleasure and your pleasure. It’s the same. That’s what we’re here for!” — you’re not gonna get that kind of fierce conviction and honest songwriting from just anyone. When that guitar riff kicks in, you’ll want to punch a wall, it feels so empowering and mighty. It’s how I wish St. Vincent made me feel all the time. Don’t you ever leave us like this again, Leslie fucking Feist. —DL

Julien Baker, “Distant Solar Systems”
It’s a pretty frightening time to be thinking about legacy, but Julien Baker does just that on “Distant Solar Systems,” the B-side to her previously released “Funeral Pyre.” Here, Baker’s sonorous vocals echo the vastness of constellations, while her restrained guitar plucks suggest the smallness of two sisters lying in a field looking up at them. “Distant solar systems and all the minor planets / Know nothing of our satellites and 747s.” Through a lens of smallness, Baker rolls her eyes at the limits of legacy (“Great men of science and literature / Don’t impress me”) before admitting her own limitations: “I am a chisel in your hand / Screaming at marble from a microphone stand.” But even the ancient makers of statues turn to dust: “All of the empires crumble in stone / Great architecture, build it in chrome.” What will distant future explorers think, long after Michelangelo’s David is gone, when they dig the ground where Fifth Avenue used to be and find, under layers of dirt and stone, a big golden T? —GC

Drake, “Blem”
Do me a favor: Resist the urge to Google what “Blem” means if it’s not already in your vocabulary and do something better. Instead, define it by the rhythm and what Drake’s saying. Listen closely. Feel lightheaded and a little bit cocksure? Like you, too, could drunk-text J.Lo, lay it all on the line, and accept the consequences no matter how bad a decision you know that just was? Now you feel what Drake’s always feeling. To me, the best Drake songs are the ones where he stops making excuses for showing emotion — whether it’s an act or not — and figures out how to be equally insecure and a person who knows what they want. Being real with people is messy; being real with yourself is disastrous. If it takes being inebriated to get there (he’s only human), more power to him. —DL

Kayex, “My Friends”
This is a blissed-out, dancing-at-dusk jam. It’s a driving with the windows down while your hair blows in the wind jam. Bob your head behind the wheel at sunset with a breeze blowing over your face and you’ll be living your best life. —JC

Todd Rundgren ft. Robyn, “That Could Have Been Me”
Tempting as it was to put the new song Robyn teased on this week’s Girls on this list, I believe in reserving judgement for the whole picture. Good thing Robyn dropped two songs this week: The other one is a feature for Todd Rundgren and it’s not totally a cover! It’s actually an ’80s power ballad so pretty it could be a slow dance at prom — that is, until you listen to what she’s saying. Then it becomes something else entirely. Now it’s the song you listen to alone in the limo afterward and sob about what could’ve been. Robyn hasn’t always been the best vocalist — controversial to say, I know — but this puts her range to the test and, my, does it pass. —DL

7 Best New Songs of the Week