Best Songs We Heard This Week: Leona Lewis, Ben Folds, Big Grams + More
Happy #NewMusicFriday! This week brings a fresh batch of ear candy on the new, internationally-agreed-upon global release date, but before we sift through that rich bounty, let’s take time to spotlight six tracks the PopCrush Staff had on repeat in the last seven days. Five are brand-spanking-new, one’s a rediscovery, and we’re currently obsessed with all of them.
Listen to this week’s round-up from our editors (in no particular order), and add your favorites to your playlist. And speaking of playlists, Apple Music users now have another way to connect with PopCrush — you can stay up to date with all of our mixes here.
And now, on to your new favorite songs…
Big Grams (Big Boi + Phantogram), “Fell In the Sun”
Andre 3000 gets all the credit as Outkast’s Renaissance man for his fashion risks and forays into acting, but it’s Big Boi who once said he dreams of recording with artsy British singer-songwriter Kate Bush. His 2012 Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors album featured several unlikely (and for the most part, successful) collaborations with indie artists, including the standout “Lines” with A$AP Rocky and electro-rock duo Phantogram. Big Boi and Phantogram’s musical friendship has since yielded more fruit in the form of their upcoming Big Grams EP due September 25. “Fell In the Sun” is a horn-heavy affair that’s slick-verging-on-overproduced — but why not, when it’s aiming to blind you with glitz? Big Boi’s lyrical bombast is a perfect foil for Phantogram singer Sarah Barthel’s vocals.
— Samantha Vincenty
Ben Folds, “So There”
If Pitch Perfect or Pentatonix can find mainstream success borrowing from the pillars of collegiate a cappella, who says Ben Folds—a deity in the church of undergraduate radio stations—won’t do the same? Folds, who’s been making pleasant, piano-soaked alternative rock for more than 20 years, has gone straight-up chamber pop on So There, an album he recorded with New York’s yMusic ensemble. Its eponymous track is bright, busy and will have you frantically scheduling your next stroll around the alma mater’s quad. — Matthew Donnelly
Waaves, “My Head Hurts”
Wavves’ latest offering is a brash, frenetic take on unrequited love. Nathan Williams sings, “I want you to take / Shoot me deeply into your veins,” because that’s exactly what one-sided attraction feels like, right? This desperate, all-encompassing need to be noticed and consumed, and then the subsequent madness when you’re not. The racing drums and deranged vocals really drive the point home when Williams sings, “You’re killing me / I hope you know.” Oh, we can tell. — Ali Szubiak
Here We Go Magic, “Ordinary Feeling”
At the end of every summer, there’s a song that transitions me into fall — and by “transitions,” I mean “gives me a gentle shove, forcing me to accept the fact that I have to put a sweater on now, and it’s time to be okay with that.” This year, “Ordinary Feeling” is that song. Low acoustic guitar tones lend extra weight to Luke Temple’s pensive lyrics (“Let’s not talk of love / Who’s below, and what’s above / You’re only in and out of one or the other”), before the track transcends to the indie band’s signature fuzzy psychedelia on the chorus. It’s the perfect soundtrack to your annual evolution into Mr. Autumn Man/Woman. — Samantha Vincenty
Foo Fighters, “Empty Handed”
Leona Lewis, “Power”
In 2007, the X Factor winner bore into American pop with “Bleeding Love,” an uncomplicated, lovesick single that proved good voice + good production = likely radio rotation. On “Power,” she borrows from her own playbook and quickly runs up the scoreboard: Here, she quietly lays timed mines across whispery verses that detonate as soon as a swelling chorus strikes. The song’s electric appeal considered, here’s hoping I Am comes with a complimentary surge protector. — Matthew Donnelly
Touch of My Hand: 10 Pop Songs About Female Self-Love