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, Miley Cyrus brings a little disco moment to the beach.
Miley Cyrus has played with genre extensively throughout her career, and it’s probably because her voice just sounds good in every single one of them.
She can be a country darling, a cover queen, a rock star, a pop performer, or a jazzy crooner. The world is her oyster, and her instrument — that incredibly versatile voice — can take her anywhere she might want to go. Her highly-anticipated new album, Endless Summer Vacation, arrives March 10th, and Cyrus describes it as her “love letter to LA.” “Flowers” is the first single from Endless Summer Vacation, and the new era of Miley is officially off to a dreamy, glittering start.
It’s easy to forget, sometimes, just how long Miley has been in the public eye. Hannah Montana premiered almost 17 years ago, in 2006, and Cyrus has remained as a consistent part of the pop culture fabric ever since. The lyrics in “Flowers” feel like a personal a reclamation of her private life that has never felt that private at all. “We were right ’til we weren’t/ Built a home and watched it burn,” she sings, lamenting her relationship, presumably, with ex-husband Liam Hemsworth. (The song was released on his birthday, after all).
It’s not all doom and gloom in Cyrus’ version of Los Angeles, though — once the chorus hits, she arrives at the conclusion that everything is going to be okay, and there’s even a strong chance she’ll be better off going forward: “I can take myself dancing/ And I can hold my own hand/ Yeah, I can love me better than you can.”
We’d also be remiss not to mention the dazzling, artful music video, which dropped alongside the track. The visual shows Cyrus literally shedding layers, re-acclimating herself with her own skin at her own home. (If there’s one thing Miley can be counted on to do, it’s to find a pool and get in it.)
If the hazy, peaceful California tone of “Malibu” were to be applied to a dance pop track, the result might sound something like “Flowers,” which seems to interpolate Gloria Gaynor’s iconic “I Will Survive.” If that is in fact the case, it’s hard to believe that choice could be accidental — this is Miley embracing her story as her own, stepping into her autonomy in a fully realized way, and pushing her sound in a relatively new direction. Her raspy vocals offer an edge to the disco-toned anthem, leaving us all excited to see what else Endless Summer Vacation has in store.
— Mary Siroky
Cailin Russo – “PSYCHO FREAK”
Cailin Russo got the memo that this week was for disco-infused bops. The transportive pop track puts the listener smack in the middle of a club, but specifically at the point where everything feels like it’s going right — the playlist is perfect, no one’s tired, and the vibes are immaculate. “PSYCHO FREAK” captures that feeling and revels in the joy.
Russo is an experimental creator, one who says she thrives at the intersection of music, fashion, and art. With a new album on the horizon titled Influx, there’s never been a better time to enter her creative world. — M. Siroky
Noa Kirel – “Gone”
By matching an upbeat, bouncy sound with a vulnerable story, Israeli singer Noa Kirel has struck gold with her new single, “Gone.” The dark-pop track arrives from the vocalist set to compete in the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest just a few months from now, and exists as a showcase for her talent as a dancer and all-around performer as much as it serves as a vehicle for her impressive vocals. “My favorite thing about you is you’re gone,” she says, definitive and confident. — M. Siroky
Purr – “The Natural”
Slow-going, somewhat sardonic, and backed by wailing pedal steel, Purr’s “The Natural” has a lot going for it. With its country-nodding instrumental and double-tracked vocals, the song lulls you into a warm trance for just under four minutes. During that time, vocalist Eliza Callahan dryly takes on the prospect of aging with darkly funny, sometimes self-deprecating lyrics (“I’m not a natural liar/ I’m not a natural anything”). Perfect for a rainy Sunday morning or an introspective night drive, Purr continues to deliver creative, emotionally intelligent indie tunes. — Jonah Krueger
Dazy & Militarie Gun – “Pressure Cooker (Remix) (Feat. Mannequin Pussy)”
“Pressure Cooker,” Militarie Gun and Dazy’s collaborative single, was already a certified bop when it initially dropped last year. With hints of Beastie Boys and Odelay-era Beck in the instrumental and Militarie Gun’s infectious energy, it was an irresistible, dance-worthy jam. Now, on the song’s new remix, indie punk favorites Mannequin Pussy are getting in on the fun, contributing background vocals and an extra verse. Really, there’s only one suitable response: an enthusiastic “hell yeah!” — J.K.
Mhaol – “Therapy”
Over a fuzzed-out bass groove, the opening lines to Mhaol’s “Therapy” minces no words: “You know you really fucked me up/ And I don’t think that you care/ I should bill you for my therapy.” On paper, it sounds serious — and it is — but in practice, it couldn’t be more fun. Vocalist Róisín Nic Ghearailt delivers the lines with a playful snark, and the instrumentals seem like they could fall apart at any moment. All of which is to say, “Therapy” might be the perfect anthem for when you’re totally over them… like, for sure, 100% over them… stop asking about it, I’m over them. — J.K.
Kelz – “Good 2 Me”
Rising R&B vocalist Kelz has set out to share a sound out of New York that’s fresh and original, and his latest, “Good 2 Me,” is a good a step as any on that mission. The dance track is as vibrant as it is moody, topped off with rich vocals reminiscent of The Weeknd. Perhaps the wildest thing to consider here is that this is only the third release — ever — from Kelz. Get in on the ground floor with this one. — M. Siroky
babyfang – “Goan Go”
“I don’t really know what to say about it, other than it’s hard as fuck, bro,” babyfang sings on debut single, “Goan Go.” And well, thank God someone said it. Self-described “doomsday-punks,” the band consists of members Canteen Killa, Théo and 13th Law, and with inspirations that range from Death Grips to Radiohead, they sound like if King Krule took the mic at a basement show. Between the layers of ambient vocal calls and fuzzy guitar breakdowns, “Goan Go” is proof that you can be lo-fi and still be hardcore. Look out for the band’s first album, In The Face Of, out February 3rd. — Maura Fallon
Dan Croll – “Slip Away”
After five years of living in Los Angeles, Liverpool native Dan Croll finds himself at an existential crossroads. “I’m not the type of guy to quit/ but sometimes I’d like to…” are the first words he sings on “Slip Away.” Throughout, Croll ponders the futility of living in Hollywood and pursuing a career in the arts, from the financial burdens to the spiritual lapses. Atop crunchy guitars and a driving drum beat, “Slip Away” is a bold return from the indie pop artist, and though he’s dreaming of an escape, the song has the effect of roping us right to him. He may want to slip away, but we’re glad to have him back. — Paolo Ragusa
Mike Sabath – “Who You Are”
When singer-songwriter Mike Sabath isn’t writing hit songs for Meghan Trainor, Camila Cabello, and RAYE, he’s been slowly gearing up for his first major project. The latest selection is the funk-inflected track “Who You Are,” which also marks the debut of Sabath’s band, The Moongirls. It’s only his third solo single to date, but the masterful production and silky vocals on “Who You Are” suggest he’s been crafting songs like a pro for a decade. “Who You Are” also takes after the euphoric direction of his debut single, “Good Energy,” so it’s safe to say that whatever Sabath does next, it’ll have us feeling free and in high spirits. — P.R.
SG Lewis, Charlotte Day Wilson, Channel Tres – “Fever Dreamer”
British producer SG Lewis has shared the latest cut off his upcoming sophomore album, AudioLust & HigherLove. Featuring two effortless vocalists, Charlotte Day Wilson and Channel Tres, “Fever Dreamer” is one of SG Lewis’ most satisfying experiments yet. His previous singles — particularly 2019’s “Hurting” and 2021’s “Chemicals” — have shown that when given the bass guitar, SG Lewis can truly make magic happen. His bubbling bass work and synth arpeggios are what guide “Fever Dreamer,” and combined with Charlotte Day Wilson and Channel Tres’ smoky vocals, it’s an irresistible piece of dance music that transports you straight to shimmering lights and a throbbing dancefloor. Look out for more when AudioLust drops on January 27th. — P.R.
Gracie Abrams – “Where do we go now?”
Looking ahead at the upcoming album release calendar, it seems like we’re going to get super sad (in a good way) this year. 2023 is kicking off with the feels-so-bad-it-sorta-feels-good vibes of Gracie Abram’s single, “Where do we go now?”, which teases her debut album, Good Riddance, dropping next month. Produced and co-written by Aaron Dessner, the song checks all the thematic boxes of a moody pop gem — longing, disappointment, searing honesty — anchored by a mesmerizing hook. It’s the melancholy bop you’ll be playing in your car the next time you need to get a good cry out. — Spencer Dukoff
Why Bonnie – “Apple Tree”
If you slept on Why Bonnie’s excellent 2022 record, 90 in November, it’s not too late to hop on the bandwagon for this New-York-by-way-of-Texas quintet. With its patient, shuffling drums and keys that kick in around the 1-minute mark, it’s a slightly hazy comedown jam buoyed by evocative lyrics like, “Streetlights like angels smoking cigarettes on a winter’s night.” Blair Howerton’s light touch as lead vocalist complements the peaceful vibe of the track. — S.D.
Vagabon – “Carpenter”
It’s been over three years since Vagabon’s self-titled second studio album, which delivered soulful, experimental pop that left a mark. So for fans eagerly awaiting her next project (which a release promises will arrive by the end of 2023), “Carpenter” should be a treat. You can hear the stylistic influence of Rostam Batmanglij, who co-produced the track with Tamko. Over a beat bubbling with life, the artist born Lætitia Tamko sings, “I wasn’t ready to hear you out/ I wasn’t ready to pull me out/ I wasn’t ready to move on out/ But I’m all ready now.” If you love songs like “Bunny Is a Rider” by Caroline Polachek or the latest Maggie Rogers album, you’ll dig Vagabon’s new direction on “Carpenter.” — S.D.
Illiterate Light – “Fuck LA”
Lifelong East Coasters can get behind the title Virginia duo Illiterate Light’s latest single. But as Jeff Gorman (who, full disclosure, was a classmate of this writer’s at James Madison University — Go Dukes!) explains, the song isn’t really about his disdain for Los Angeles (or New York or Nashville or Baltimore, which also get shoutouts). Instead, it’s about the pervasive homesickness you experience as a touring musician, missing loved ones back home as you try to make your dreams happen on the road. But if you happen to hate L.A. (or any of those other places), feel free to crank this one up in your speakers regardless. — S.D.
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