Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Adele breaks her lengthy hiatus with an extremely on-brand ballad.
What is it that separates a moody piano ballad from an Adele song? Is it the undeniable vocals? The reflective nature of the lyrics, nostalgic and sad? The overwhelming desire to suddenly go stand outside in the rain?
It’s probably all of the above, and with “Easy On Me,” Adele takes it easy on absolutely no one — not the listeners, and not herself. The record-breaking vocalist has shared that her upcoming album is entitled 30, and the only thing truly surprising about “Easy On Me” is its focus on the past, rather than Adele’s present moment. “I was still a child/ Didn’t get the chance to feel the world around me,” she cries out on the chorus.
Most of the song is just Adele and a piano, a welcome sound after this six year hiatus. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s Adele through and through, and that might just be best case scenario right now. Turn it on for a long, reflective drive. Pour a cup of coffee and sit by the window looking forlorn. Resist the urge to call your ex. Adele is here for all of us.
— Mary Siroky
Lennon Stella – “Fancy”
Lennon Stella first became known for her strong vocals, rising to fame singing in a duo with her sister, Maisy. It wasn’t long into her career as a soloist that she proved that she has writing chops as well. Now, with the dreamy, atmospheric new single “Fancy,” Stella shows that she’s not afraid to take risks. While vocally it’s firmly in her comfort zone, the production and tempo change towards the end of the song push the artist into a new space. As her first track in over a year and a half, it signals the start of a warm, glittering new era. — M.S.
Barrie – “Frankie”
“Frankie” directly references Glen Cambell and Jimmy Webb’s legendary 1968 country single “Wichita Lineman,” labeling it as “our most favorite tragedy.” It’s a fascinating way to combine both their ideas and Barrie’s contemplative malaise: since releasing her excellent 2019 breakout album Happy To Be Here, Barrie is rapidly expanding her indie pop sound to encompass larger, more personal ideas.
The song fits right into her newfound exploratory side, and features her longing for a simple life untouched by the fierce competition and subsequent destruction that capitalism brings. It’s in these moments where the line between “Whichita Lineman” and “Frankie” is drawn perfectly, and the tension found between her new wave-influenced synths, breakbeat drums, and her delicate vocals is both gripping and catchy. — Paolo Ragusa
Scott Helman – “Pretty”
Scott Helman flips gender roles on his slinky new single, proving boys deserve to feel “Pretty” too. “This song was a big step for me in exploration and limits,” said the Canadian singer-songwriter in a statement. “Ultimately, I thought it was such a special thought — the idea that someone can be so beautiful that you just want a bit of them to become part of you. In that thought, there’s so much beauty and humour — the transcendence of traditional gender roles, the flirt, the strangeness.”
Unfamiliar though it may be, Helman expertly pulls off the gender-bending sentiment with his strong lyrical imagery, deliberate instrumentation, and feathery vocal performance. — Glenn Rowley
AURORA – “Giving In To The Love”
AURORA sings that she’s not an angel in new track “Giving In To The Love,” but her ethereal vocals suggest otherwise. The pop track is grounded by a drum beat signaling battle and lyrics that raise existential questions. “I never had the world, so why change for it?” she asks. The Norwegian singer-songwriter is known for her witty, honest, and insightful tracks — this one is no exception. — M.S.
JESSIA – “But I Don’T”
“But I Don’T” — the standout closer on JESSIA’s new EP How Are You? — finds the Vancouver-based singer turning all the reasons she’s serving an ex the cold shoulder into an icy, pop-driven earworm of a kiss-off. “‘Cause when you’re not asking why/ I’m not coming by/ Honestly, I don’t really care,” she deadpans before launching into the rapid-fire chorus with, “And if I really wanted to I would/ Show up at your doorstep unannounced/ But honestly I think that I’m good.” Don’t test JESSIA… Like she said, she’s good. — G.R.
Kito, Winona Oak – “Skin & Bones”
Kito just announced her new EP, Blossom, and this track with Winona Oak is a sublime taste of what’s to come. “Skin & Bones,” which was cowritten with remarkable songwriter and producer Sarah Aarons, is a club-ready dance pop cut, but there’s something muted about it. Rather than turn the dial up to 11 when the beat kicks in, Kito keeps the track feeling light and airy, which helps convey the sense of longing she and Winona Oak feel.
Oak’s vocals are intimate and expressive, combining a singer-songwriter feel with a gripping, anthemic pop style. It’s a great example of what both of these artists do best — defy convention and make us dance while they do it. — P.R.
Benson Boone – “GHOST TOWN”
A new signee of Dan Reynolds’ Night Street Records imprint, Benson Boone shows off his impressive voice on debut single “GHOST TOWN.” The aching piano ballad serves equal shades of James Arthur and Reynolds’ own emotive style as the 19-year-old American Idol drop-out yearns, “Maybe you would be happier with someone else/ Maybe lovin’ me’s the reason you can’t love yourself/ Before I turn your heart into a ghost town/ Show me everything we built so I can tear it all down.” While you’re picking your heart up off the floor, expect big things to come from Boone as an exciting new voice in sad boy pop. Turns out he didn’t need help from that singing competition show one bit. — G.R.
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