songs of the week

6 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.

Vince Staples, “Big Fish”
In the video for “Big Fish” Vince Staples sits alone on a sailboat that is slowly sinking. When he looks over the side he sees sharks, and looks a little bit worried, but mostly just despondent. It’s a brilliant move because it captures one of Staples’s best attributes as an artist: he’s an insightful observer primarily because he’s exhausted by what he sees, but that exhaustion doesn’t ever really translate to abject cynicism — instead, it just feels honest. These days, I’m not so interested in engaging with the harsh realities of the world, but Vince Staples makes me want to at least try. —Sam Hockley-Smith (@shockleysmith)

Selena Gomez, “Bad Liar”
As Selena Gomez continues to navigate the music industry as an adult and figure out what kind of artist she’d like to grow into, keep an eye on the choices she makes. They’re going to be subtly deliberate and, hopefully, for her sake, truer to herself. Very little of Selena’s work points to Talking Heads and, yet, her newest song, “Bad Liar,” interpolates the bassline on “Psycho Killer” and with David Byrne’s approval, no less. It’s ingenious for being exactly what you’d least expect from Selena – a pivot toward sexual tension that finally sounds believable. There’s so much jittery flirtation and then Selena’s slinky upper register all going on once that she’d have to be a better actress than we know she is to fake it. Like the woman says, she’s a bad liar. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)

Alabama Shakes, “Killer Diller Blues”
Jack White, T Bone Burnett, and Robert Redford have been working on American Epic, a series focused on the roots of American music and the restoration of recording equipment from the 20s. Thanks to said equipment, the Alabama Shakes cover of Memphis Minnie’s “Killer Diller Blues” sounds almost frighteningly authentic; Brittany Howard’s vocals are warm, thin, and flat all at the same time, the saloon piano fades in and out, and the guitars sound as though they’re in the process of discovering rock and roll. Equally fascinating is the previously-released Nas re-working of the Memphis Jug Band’s “On the Road Again.” On one level, these recordings are a wonderful novelty – it’s undeniably fun to hear modern artists on old equipment, exploring their roots. On a deeper level, though, the recordings work to reveal how shockingly thin the film that separates us from our past can be. —Gabe Cohn (@gabescohn)

Camila Cabello, “I Have Questions”
Camila Cabello’s solo career is supposed to have launcedh with her debut single “Crying in the Club.” It’s a great song, as any vehicle for a hit co-written by Sia that samples “Genie in a Bottle” should be. But the gem is “I Have Questions,” a B-side ballad, so to speak, to the single that reminds us why she went solo in the first place. Fifth Harmony produced many excellent ballads as a five-piece and not one of them had the lyrical density of “I Have Questions” (kudos to co-writer Bibi Bourelly). Of course, the songwriting leaves the “you” Cabello spends the song interrogating ambiguous, but wouldn’t the 21 questions premise lose its emotional pull if you knew it was directed at, say, 5H? Camila Cabello is above starting her solo career with a transparent diss at her former band (unlike someone else). I’d rather hear a pop song about feeling damaged when the focus is squarely on the pain, not the person or thing that caused it. –DL

Palehound, “If You Met Her”
When we lose people we love, we clutch tightly to the details that embody them, trying not to let their essence slip away. Details define our memories. It’s why I can tell you the album that my uncle was playing when we drove from San Francisco to Monterey in 2003 (U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb), the brand of old-school removable radio he’d just installed in the car (Alpine, with blue lights), and the kind of chips he bought me at lunch that day (Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, natch). It’s these kinds of details that emerge in the second verse of “If You Met Her,” the third single from Boston-based Palehound’s upcoming A Place I’ll Always Go. “That one night we fought about the little stuff / We went to Dunkin’ Donuts and you got the blueberry glazed one.” In this elegy to a past lover who, it is mentioned earlier in the song, has died of cancer, the details of the fight do not matter — this is a relationship better embodied by blueberry donuts. The power of these memory-defining details is drawn out even more in the chorus: “When the dust clears, where’s my body?” The question is rhetorical; the answer is implied: it is, of course, gone. While our bodies may be our most intimate spaces during life, the details of us are all that’s left when we die – if we’re lucky – and then nothing. –GC

Katy Perry, “Bon Appétit” (MUNA remix)
Katy’s been struggling a lot without her partner in pop crime Dr. Luke in the driver’s seat on all her songs. That’s what make it so frustrating when you hear one of those non-Luke produced songs now remixed by a band like MUNA and realize all this untapped potential Katy’s just sitting on while she’s stuck in playing it straight. There are more interesting producers in this world than the Max Martin cohort. Let this remix be a lesson for album number six, should there be one. – DL

6 Best New Songs of the Week