songs of the week

5 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.

Ariana Grande, “No Tears Left to Cry”
Ariana Grande could’ve returned with anything— a sobering ballad, a duet, a bedroom bop. She could’ve not returned at all, at least not for some time, and that would’ve been fine, too. Instead, she went the best possible route: a song that tricks listeners into thinking it’s going to be an emotional wallop, which it is, but not in the way it initially seems. “No Tears Left to Cry” isn’t past the sorrow of the Manchester tragedy, but its tears now come from a happier frame of mind. Ariana is crying out of joy for the resilience of that city with a song that pays subtle homage to its musical roots, incorporating the rhythm of U.K. garage (a form of house music that took off in the ’90s and has seen a recent revival) in its foundational beat. Why dwell on death when you could celebrate being alive? Every move Ariana has made since that attack has struck just the right tone. “No Tears Left to Cry” once again proves she’s fast becoming one of her generation’s most important pop stars. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)

J. Cole, “Kevin’s Heart”
One of the gentler lectures on Cole’s new album K.O.D. centers on the artist’s friend Kevin Hart, and for all of Cole’s real and perceived heavy-handedness, the link he draws between Hart’s infidelity and sex addiction and the drug addiction K.O.D. is dedicated to warning listeners away from is deftly traced. Cole cleverly couches the hook for “Kevin’s Heart” in the triplet flow much beloved by the drug-addled SoundCloud rappers Cole’s been beefing with; his verses empathize with Hart’s dilemma without losing sight of the damage he’s inflicting on his wife. It’s songs like these that make Cole hard to easily dismiss. All sanctimony aside, he’s doing what he can to address the suffering around him, and he’s doing it more as a friend than someone holier-than-thou. —Frank Guan (@frankophilia)

Leon Bridges, “Beyond”
Leon Bridges has a new album, Good Thing, coming out next week, and, like its first two singles, his latest track, “Beyond,” sees Bridges moving away from the Sam Cooke–inspired formula that dominated his first album to explore some different eras in R&B history — in this case, a more contemporary one. Backed by an acoustic guitar and a drum machine, Bridges shows off his vocal skills, moving gently between his rich midrange to an impressive falsetto. It’s at once nostalgic and totally current. —Corinna Burford (@coriburford)

Billie Eilish ft. Khalid, “lovely”
There’s a lot of momentum building behind Billie Eilish. Already signed to Interscope, the Los Angeles native sings and writes with an emotional maturity that belies her age (16). “lovely,” the lead single for her upcoming debut album, is a fine introduction to her work: The slow duet with Khalid sees both artists wrestling with the inner agony of depression, and though the lyrics are verbally spare, the delivery is powerfully felt. Produced by Eilish’s brother, the tasteful pianos and strings accentuate their voices without verging into portentousness, a distant, infrequent drum adds a sense of persistent loss. If the rest of Eilish’s album proves to be this good, she’s a major artist in more ways than one. —FG

Lotic, “Hunted”
Last year, I moderated a panel that ended with one of those questions that isn’t a question at all. Someone stood up and said, “There’s no political music anymore.” It was a surprising moment, largely because it was an incorrect observation. But it stuck with me: What happens to music listeners that they end up in a space where they’re listening to music that they feel does not reflect the world they live in? Presumably, if you care enough about music, you’re going to discover that someone, somewhere is making something that makes you think, hey, yes — this is the world I see around me, and the discomfort I hear, I can understand. This is probably obvious but political music is not just music that shouts at the president, or knocks down acts of war. So Berlin-based producer Lotic’s “Hunted,” which is built on a whispered vocal loop of “Brown skin, masculine frame / Head’s a target / Actin’ real feminine / Make ‘em vomit” comes off as a (literally) quiet act of protest backed by unsettling percussion that builds into a not quite cathartic end. There’s no real resolution, but why should there be? —Sam Hockley-Smith (@shockleysmith)

Best New Songs of the Week