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.

Kelela, “Better”
No one tells you how messy a relationship can get until you’re already in it, and then there’s never an exit strategy once they do. So much of Kelela’s astounding debut album sees her plotting one herself, on her own terms, navigating her way to that sweet spot where you’re able to accept the dynamic just isn’t working and forgive yourself for wanting out. There are several failed attempts along the way until we get to “Better.” It’s at this point that Kelela strips her sound to its barest bones on this album, because she needs to say this plainly and audibly, and explains to her partner what neither of them want to hear: Time didn’t heal them like she thought it would, but it healed her. There’s no coming back from such an admission, and so the beat swings back in for a final blow. “Aren’t we better now?” she tries one last time to mend the damage until she can no longer avoid the truth: “No, no, no, no, no, no, no.” Not another moment on this album cuts that deep. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)

Big K.R.I.T, “Keep the Devil Off”
On this gospel-inspired track from his upcoming album, 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time, Big K.R.I.T. continues his quick-tongued take on dirty southern rap. Building on the proud but self-reflective tone of “Confetti,” the first single from the album “Keep the Devil Off” finds K.R.I.T. rejecting the perils that come with fame and success. “What good are those riches if you’re six feet under?” he asks. The song, which K.R.I.T. produced himself, is packed with religious references, from the gospel choir and church organ to the snakes and the devil. And from the looks of the cover art — one side of which features K.R.I.T. posing like Isaac Hayes on the cover of Black Moses — we can assume that these biblical themes will permeate the rest of the album, too. —Corinna Burford (@coriburford)

Julien Baker, “Turn Out the Lights”
It must be exhausting being Julien Baker, carrying the weight of a thousand emotions with her wherever she goes, never quite knowing when catharsis will come. I suspect that’s why we hear from her so often because such baggage can’t be bottled without constant cleanse. A lot of singers write about their own mental health; few are doing it quite so effectively as Julien is right now. If “Appointments” was the spiral into the darkness — that suffocating inhale — “Turn Out the Lights,” her new album’s title track, is sort of like being swallowed by a black hole. You start to feel so detached from yourself, from reality, and betrayed by the mind. “I can’t tell the difference when I’m all alone / Said you’re either a dream, which is worse,” she starts to wonder. “Can you help me?” All this confusion has to come to a head and, for Julien, that’s at minute 2:30 when she gets to drown out the noise with her own. There’s peace in that darkness — by regaining trust that she hasn’t totally lost herself without light, she’s found it. —DL

Lin-Manuel Miranda ft. Artists for Puerto Rico, “Almost Like Praying”
History has taught us that benefit songs are supposed to sound as devastating as the event that forced them. But why, when the people they’re meant to benefit certainly aren’t lacking for tears? Puerto Rico will continue to feel Hurricane Maria long after she’s gone, making Lin-Manuel Miranda’s decision to orchestrate a spirited, upbeat benefit song for the Hispanic Federation’s relief effort all the more necessary. Inspired by West Side Story, “Almost Like Praying” gathers Latin legends — Rita Moreno, Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, etc. — for both a history lesson and cultural celebration. Each collaborator sings or raps about defining Puerto Rican events (like Grito de Lares) and lists every single town in PR, so that maybe the president will be informed of their existence, flip his humanity switch back on, and save them. —DL

Rich Chigga, “Chaos”
Rich Chigga (Brian Imanuel) is a Chinese-Indonesian dude whose profile in English-language rap has been steadily growing. Like the rest of the series of YouTube bangers inaugurated by “Dat Stick” that preceded it, his new single “Chaos” has no business being as good as it is: bulbous bass notes and vaguely exotic instruments make a comfortable setting for the 18-year old to flex his newfound sense of status. —Frank Guan (@frankophilia)

Sabrina Claudio ft. 6LACK, “Belong to You (Remix)”
SoundCloud R&B singer Sabrina Claudio has a new album out, but first, a remix to the song that put many onto her in the first place. “Belong to You” was sensual escapism when it was just Sabrina singing about desire to no one in particular, but with 6LACK now on the receiving end and reciprocating that fiery attraction, the temperature on this thing just spiked. —DL

Sam Smith, “Pray”
A Timbaland and Sam Smith collaboration was not a union I thought I needed, and yet. Moments of this song sound like melted butter dripping off Smith’s tongue. I haven’t a clue what exactly he’s praying for (salvation? freedom? love? common sense?), but there’s a full gospel choir behind him guiding Smith’s voice up to the heavens with theirs so that someone oughta hear his plea. —DL

7 Best New Songs of the Week