songs of the week

10 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.

Kendrick Lamar, “HUMBLE.”
“HUMBLE.,” like “Formation” before it, is a song best listened to with its visual accompaniment. The song is merely an appendage to the video’s body, but it’s the legs. Kendrick is the rare artist who can make anthems out of such introspective, tough subjects as alcoholism, self-worth, and now modesty. But a major point lost in a lot of the arguments over Kendrick’s lyrics being perceived as preachy is that his own slap on the wrist to take a seat will never sound like quite the same admonishment as it would coming from a peer with more unearned pride. Kendrick is as cocky as the next rapper, for sure, but it’s more righteous posturing than anything. He doesn’t give a shit if you wear a full face beat or go barefaced. With “HUMBLE.,” he’s taking all our misconceptions of his character — some weird, selfish desperation for him to be the second coming — and taking it to the extreme. (Even the title is in all caps, c’mon.) Kendrick is not only one of the best rappers alive, he’s a fantastically underrated comedian. He also definitely loved The Young Pope. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)

Calvin Harris ft. Ariana Grande, Young Thug, and Pharrell, “Heatstroke”
Is this song actually good? Does it even matter? Like Daft Punk before him — and also like most of his other music — Calvin Harris is in the business of making songs that you could play at your wedding or other family event that happens to feature dancing. It’s a particular sound: disco-inflected, bouncy, and it was probably conceived within ten feet of a pool. “Heatstroke” is the latest in the “fun song” assembly line, which is to say, “Heatstroke” is going to force you to have a good time even when you don’t want to have a good time, but that’s okay because Young Thug continues to prove that he can rap over anything and sound at home. Next stop a duet with the Count on Sesame Street? —Sam Hockley-Smith (@shockleysmith)

Exmag ft. Jubee, “Touch”
The chorus to “Touch” goes like this: “I don’t need no molly to feel like I want to touch your body. Now, I wanna take you down south, word. Let me go and take you down south, girl.” We know he’s not talking about the geographic region south of the Mason-Dixon line, so put it on your sexy-time playlist. —Jordan Crucchiola (@JorCru)

Beth Ditto, “Fire”
The Gossip’s Beth Ditto has said that her debut solo album has some country kick to it, but country means a lot of different things to different people. So she’s also more broadly defined it as “southern.” You might not get that feeling immediately on first listen to “Fire” because it starts off sounding something like the Temptation’s “Ball of Confusion” and I don’t think Motown was quite her aim. But then there goes that deep rumble in her voice ripped loose like a cannonball and in comes the rollicking psychedelic guitar, and it’s like Beth never even left Arkansas. —DL

Joey Bada$$ ft. Schoolboy Q, “Rockabye Baby”
At his best, Joey Bada$$ recalls a long-dead era of New York rap: In the mid-’90s, crews like Boot Camp Kilk or rappers like KRS-One were pulling liberally from dancehall, dub, and reggae in general to push hip-hop closer to the various sounds they were hearing in their neighborhoods. Joey was very young when this sound was most common, but that doesn’t really matter. It comes off as an ode to his roots, as well as an update to a sound that still has plenty more to give. “Rockabye Baby” pulls from that history and is the rapper’s fieriest single to date — a politically charged anthem that sneaks in blunted dub, distorted guitar (not in a cheesy way), and a technically tricky Schoolboy Q verse that could go down in history as one of his best. —SH-S

Francis Novotny, “Between the Lines”
Not everything needs to be complicated. The percussion in this song feels like a heartbeat and the piano and synth will carry your body the rest of the way through. —JC

Forest Swords, “Arms Out”
Matthew Barnes, the man behind Forest Swords, makes what is best described as medieval dub. Each track is built on a hypnotic rhythm that sounds like it has been carved out of ancient stone. His latest track, “Arms Out,” from Compassion, an album that treats his previous signature sounds — disembodied vocals, ominous drums, and cavernous reverb — as building blocks for what he’s doing now, which is essentially a more exacting version of what he did before, doesn’t take any dramatic left turns or artistic swerves. Instead, Barnes improves on the formula he’s perfected across three LPs. “Arms Out” is haunting, imbued with loss, and meticulous. No sound feels out of place. —SH-S

Thomas Rhett ft. Maren Morris, “Craving You”
Maybe Taylor Swift ghostwrote this song, maybe she didn’t; the more you remove suspicion, the better “Craving You” gets. There’s no reason country and pop can’t get along, and that’s what’s happening on this song: Two young country stars being unafraid to explore the great unknown outside their comfort zones. Hits happen when you stop trying so hard to make them (though let’s assume there was at least some formality involved here). This is a hit. It’s just too bad it almost entirely belongs to Thomas (that’s not how duets work, dude). What a waste of Morris’s voice and more evidence this is a Taylor giveaway. —DL

Kirin J Callinan, “Bravado”
Kirin J Callinan, the Australian musician with a voice that sits uncomfortably between a Tom Waits growl and some kind of forgotten pop star with a penchant for ’80s Springsteen, is never serious. Or he’s always serious, but so serious that he seems like he’s maybe being ironic. Is the joke on us? It’s hard to tell, but he approaches his music with so much sincerity that the only thing to do is take it at face value. “Bravado” sounds like a cheap ballad, as if Callinan recorded the song at the mall after being turned down by every record label in his town, but it works in his favor. Cloaked under all that theater is a song about emotions and masculinity and pride. It might also be about his own weird career, which has found him supporting Tame Impala, hanging out with Jack Black, and, somehow, acting in the upcoming second season of Top of the Lake. Like Mac Demarco and Father John Misty, it’s not always about the mode of communication so much as it’s about the full package. Sometimes making a point means committing to an idea, no matter how bizarre that idea might seem. —SH-S

Cayetana, “Certain for Miles”
For the days when it feels like everyone’s got their shit together but you, put on this song from the Philly trio Cayetana and remember everyone else is simply living out one big charade. We’re all just stumbling through life trying not to faceplant too hard with every fall. —DL

10 Best New Songs of the Week