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.

Sufjan Stevens, “Tonya Harding”
The movie I, Tonya is almost in theaters, but a more sensitive, emotionally effective chronicle of figure skater Tonya Harding’s embattled life just dropped in the form of a five-minute song by Sufjan Stevens. (And no, it’s not even in the movie.) Reader, I wept. Correction: I am weeping. In addition to lyrics like, “Tonya Harding my friend, while this world is a bitch girl, don’t end up in a ditch girl. I’ll be watching you close to the end,” Stevens also penned an accompanying essay about the song! In describing his songwriting process he says:

“The more I edited, and the more I meditated, and the more I considered the wholeness of the person of Tonya Harding, I began to feel a conviction to write something with dignity and grace, to pull back the ridiculous tabloid fodder and take stock of the real story of this strange and magnificent America hero. At the end of the day, Tonya Harding was just an ordinary woman with extraordinary talent and a tireless work ethic who set out to do her very best. She did that and more. I hope the same can be said of us all.”

The story of Harding and the story of how Harding became a story is a timeless American tale, and somehow Sufjan Stevens turned it into a stirring, ethereal ballad set against the visual of her triumphant skate at the 1991 U.S. National Championships in which she stuck her iconic triple axel, becoming the first American woman in the world (and second overall) to do so in competition. If you haven’t fallen apart by the time this shining American star tearfully raises her arms in triumph by the end, you’re a cold monster. —Jordan Crucchiola (@jorcru)

Chris Stapleton, “Nobody’s Lonely Tonight”
The second volume of Stapleton’s From a Room is a tad feistier than the first. But there can be no Stapleton record without a staple ballad and a defining vocal moment. For both, I give you “Nobody’s Lonely Tonight.” It’s set in a bar, like all the best Stapleton, during last call, the hour that’s inspired all the country greats. A bluesy ode to the lies we tell ourselves to get by, Stapleton sings of two strangers united by their shared heartbreak and drunken state. They may not know each other, but they’ve known each other’s pain enough to also know how to numb it: lots of whiskey and mindless sex. Because as Stapleton sings, his perfectly controlled wail really selling that tortured act well, “what’s love but just some confusion we don’t need.” —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)

Miguel, “Banana Clip”
On “Banana Clip,” Miguel returns to the funky pop-soul of his 2012 breakout release Kaleidoscope Dream. It may not be the most adventurous track on his new album, War & Leisure (the rest of which is impressive in its own right), but it’s definitely the most radio-ready. Backed by a catchy beat that recalls “Adorn,” Miguel’s vocals are as impressive as ever – channeling Marvin Gaye, Ronald Isley, and Raphael Saadiq. —Corinna Burford (@coriburford)

Yehan Jehan, “Eat Me Alive”
You’d never know that Yehan Jehan is a one-man band from his debut EP, Expansions. The rising producer-singer-writer-musician pulls from ’60s funkadelic, synth pop, and alt-rock guitar bands to create this expansively lush project. Most artists wouldn’t be able to tackle that range of styles without it feeling like a manic acid trip, but Jehan seamlessly pulls it off. One of the best tracks is “Eat Me Alive,” a psychedelic-synth disco song that feels like if Tame Impala performed at Studio 54. The song is nearly perfectly structured. It builds on plucky electric key notes, Jehan’s soulful voice, and crescendoing into masterful electric-guitar riffs. A jazz flute even makes an appearance, which would put Ron Burgundy to shame. Good luck keeping still. —Olivia Becker (@oliviaLbecker)

Hôy la, “Please”
Maybe it’s because there are wildfires burning near my house that make the night sky look like a hellmouth and the whole of L.A. feels like it’s about to crack open San Andreas–style. Maybe it’s because I long to hear Portishead’s Dummy like it’s hitting me for the first time. But this super-vibey track by Hôy la has me hypnotized. It comes to a cruel and sudden end, but then again, don’t most things these days? —JC

Roy Woods, “Top Left”
Is Roy Woods a budget the Weeknd doing an impression of Tory Lanez? A little. Would his new album Say Less speak to me a lot more if it were entirely produced and written by his OVO brethren Majid Jordan? Probably. Do either of these flaws preclude me from getting off a subtle chair twerk at work to his Beyoncé-inspired “Top Left”? Never. —DL

Best New Songs of the Week