Best Songs We Heard This Week: Lady Gaga, D.R.A.M., Sia + More
Happy Wednesday, PopCrush readers.
Just as we do every week, the PopCrush editors have selected their favorite new songs for your listening pleasure from #NewMusicFriday and beyond, ranging from up-and-comers to tried-and-true superstars.
We hope that you all have a happy rest of your week! And for more playlists, be sure to follow us on Apple Music.
Lady Gaga, “Sinner’s Prayer”
Unlike so many Little Monsters — and certain PopCrush coworkers — I’m ambivalent about 99% of Gaga’s pre-Joanne catalog, so her surprise zag into country territory didn’t alienate me like it did for some. Standout thumper “Sinner’s Prayer,” co-written with Mark Ronson, Father John Misty and former Amy Winehouse guitarist Thomas Brenneck, could be the theme song for a shoot-em-up set in the future (maybe Westworld should give it the “meaningful instrumental” treatment it's so fond of?). While Gaga’s vocals overreach into musical theater territory on several otherwise excellent Joanne tracks, here she strikes a perfect balance between showy belting and good-as-gold true grit. And as someone who lives next to downtown Brooklyn, I can’t resist the genius of “Her love for him ain't cheap / But it breaks just like a knockoff piece from Fulton Street.” – Samantha Vincenty
Melanie C, "Escalator"
It's no coincidence that Melanie C's new album (perhaps her best since 1999's Northern Star) aligns with the 20th anniversary of the Spice Girls—but on Version of Me, the artist formerly known as Sporty Spice proves her lasting potency sans the rest of the Spice rack. "Escalator" in particular is a testament to her undeniable talents as a solo pop force. The moody, rhythmic pop jam is elevated by a flurry of trendy house beats and shadowy synths, Melanie's voice emoting as earnestly as ever as she laments about trying to keep up with the fast-paced rush of life. It's a surefire alt-pop anthem, and she rides it all the way to the top. - Erica Russell
Jimmy Eat World, "You Are Free"
In 2001, Jimmy Eat World insisted through their defining breakout hit: “It just takes some time, little girl / You’re in the middle of the ride.” Fifteen years later, the ride remains in neutral, but the group still refuse to give up on their faceless heroine. “You Are Free,” a standout from the new Integrity Blues, is an appeal to the aimless and ennui-afflicted, and its story unfurls like a ripened “The Middle,” across which production and sentiment have finally reached peak pop-rock maturation. “Honey, you are free / As much as you can stand to be,” the group offer plainly in their barest and most moving chorus — a love-letter to identity and infinity — yet. — Matthew Donnelly
Sia, "Midnight Decisions"
Sia's scary-good songwriter sensibility has yet to let up in the least, and her newly reissued This Is Acting re-up proves that she's got a treasure trove of stone-cold hits still tucked away. "Midnight Decisions" is one of the very best of the new tracks — a slightly more scaled-back and muted piano-led production than her usual howlers — as she tells an all-too-relatable, not-so-sober nighttime tale: "It's all a blur when we talk through the liquor / I always regret midnight decisions," she mournfully croons on repeat. Too real, girl. — Bradley Stern
Terror Jr, “Super Powers”
I’ve been singing Terror Jr’s praises since the mysterious electro-pop outfit made its initial emergence via Kylie Jenner's lip kit mini-movie earlier this year (what a sentence!). Their releases have been consistently good and ultimately culminated in the stellar debut album Bop City, which the group promises is the first of a trilogy, god willing. It’s true that the eight-song collection is well worth a listen in its entirety, but “Super Powers” — a masterful study in nuanced simplicity — deserves a highlight. With it’s minimal instrumentation and understated vocals — modulated to high heaven, as is the Terror Jr way — the synth-heavy track succeeds in its subtlety, a real feat in our current pop cultural climate, which often feels so heavily mired in excess. But soft doesn’t necessarily translate to weak: There’s attitude here, too, as lead singer Lisa lays the sarcasm down thick at the start: “Heard you got a tough life / Yeah someone loves you but you don’t love ‘em back / Oh, what a f—ked life.” Okay, I'm ready for Part II. — Ali Szubiak
Much of singer-rapper D.R.A.M.’s debut full-length, Big Baby D.R.A.M., is as joyful as its lead singles “Broccoli” and “Cash Machine,” and his warm, vocally meandering musings are at their best when they’re pulled into focus on piano ballad bop “100%.” Sure, a song that employs already-kind-of-dated slang (“keep it 100”) risks a limit to its longevity, but the sincerity and sweetness that comes with it is evergreen — so long as you love D.R.A.M.’s Biz Markie-descended singsong, which I very much do. – Samantha Vincenty
Lady Gaga, “Dancin’ In Circles”
Lady Gaga’s penchant for reinvention is at its most alienating on her latest release Joanne but “Dancin’ In Circles” does, at least, feel familiar. If you’re looking for vintage Gaga, she comes closest here, on the album’s sole Top 40-worthy moment, complete with the year’s most overt and unashamed reference to female masturbation. Consider it a comfort blanket: Reminiscent of a drunk “Alejandro” trapped after-hours at a run-down rodeo, “Dancin’ In Circles” is a mournful reminder of all Gaga’s left behind. To new things, then. — Ali Szubiak
Sia, “Jesus Wept"
Where This Is Acting served as Sia’s personal masquerade ball, and played host to competing alter-egos (A trop-house singer! A church-reared balladeer!), the additions to the LP’s deluxe edition quickly send the strangers home. “Jesus Wept,” which has the effect of a more settled “Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato, is equal parts quelling, guitar-backed lullaby and unsettling, minor chord-fueled ghost story. It’s a liiiiittle bit Lana Del Rey, but too dramatic to draw exact comparisons, and will work its way into a Game of Thrones episode if the show’s music supervisor has got his or her ear to the ground. — Matthew Donnelly
QUIÑ, "I AM"
QUIÑ delivers a sleek, intergalactic mission statement on "I AM," a (literal) introduction to the sun-kissed, California-based rising artist. On the track, the soulful singer-songwriter stuns with her easy, breezy brand of self-described "fantasy soul," her honeyed voice gliding over the mid-tempo R&B as a chic lounge beat bubbles underneath like steam building up in a teapot. It's a deliciously slow build, much like the mysterious artist's sure and steady trajectory. - Erica Russell