Every week the Stereogum staff chooses the five best new songs of the week (the eligibility period begins and ends Thursdays right before midnight). This week’s countdown is below, and you can listen to a playlist of all our 5 Best Songs on Spotify.
Katie Dey’s songs often sound like melting, but “stuck” has a definite structure, a bounce that could’ve come straight out of a song in a mid-’00s Apple commercial. But Dey never allows for such an easy release, though, and be thankful for that, because “stuck” instead achieves transcendence. The Australian artist really thrives when trying to get at the communality of being uncomfortable with ourselves together. “You are bored inside your body and going crazy/ So if you ever find a way out, will you save me?” she asks on it. That itchiness of lacking an escape fuels Dey’s songs, and it’s also what makes them so beautiful, like the only way to truly get out is to create music that connects with just one other person or, even better, many. –James
Calling Channel Tres’ music hip-hop would be reductive. The Compton artist processes a mix of West Coast rap and Detroit dance through a funk-inflected filter. “Sexy Black Timberlake,” his latest single, is a slick and wiggly meditation on feeling objectified and vilified as a black man. “Bitches act crazy tryna have my baby,” he intones over a whining synth à la Dr. Dre. “Tryna get in my house.” He switches between his own narrative and that of the people who want something from him: “Just let me have some, nigga with an attitude/ I see your pinky ring can I take a ride with you?” A deeper reflection unfolds beneath the confident beat. –Julia
Lil Nas X is piling up bodies. Week after week, the stars of the ’10 pop zeitgeist are taking their shots, and they’re falling at his feet. Shawn Mendes tried. Taylor Swift tried. Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber got together and tried. None of them could dislodge “Old Town Road” from #1. A year ago, Katy Perry would’ve tried, too. Maybe she thinks she’s still trying. But Perry’s particular form of diamond-plated diva-pop is over, replaced by SoundCloud-rap hordes and viral curios. And the glorious thing about “Never Really Over,” Perry’s latest comeback attempt, is that it doesn’t sound like a comeback attempt. “Never Really Over” probably won’t even debut at #2, but it taps back into that old big-feelings feeling. And if you still want that feeling, here it is.
If Carly Rae Jepsen was a beloved prestige-TV series with a small cult fanbase, then “Never Really Over” would be the big-screen adaptation, the Serenity to its Firefly. “Never Really Over” once again pairs Perry up with Zedd, the German dance-music guy who suddenly seems so last year, too. Together, they (and the seven other credited co-writers) make grand internal opera out of the lingering post-relationship crush: “Oh we were such a mess, but wasn’t it the best?” Zedd conjures a whole army of drummer boys and runs back the ticking-clock effect from “The Middle,” but “Never Really Over” isn’t a dance song. It’s Pat Benatar through a digital prism — an endorphin-rush sing-along anthem of the highest order. It probably won’t conquer the world, but it still rides until it can’t no more. –Tom
Alex Giannascoli writes a lot of different kinds of songs. There’s rootsy sing-alongs, punky scratchers, riotous noise-stomps, ornate solo orchestras. The breadth of his talent is wide, and the best thing about “Gretel” — the first we’re hearing off his upcoming House Of Sugar — is that it’s a little bit of every strain of Giannascoli. It’s all baked in syrupy digital decay, a constant downward spiral that feels like descending into some ghastly fairy tale. The Philadelphia musician is circling around some heady ideas here, but he approaches them with the playfulness of the macabre. “Good people gotta fight to exist,” he sings, a rallying cry for the sort of outcasts that gravitate toward his music. –James
When the “BTSTU” demo first hit the internet way back in 2010, it sounded like the future. Fast forward to almost a decade later, and, well, it still does. With only a handful of songs, the influence of Jai Paul’s slinky, sensual synth-funk has seeped into the mainstream and spawned plenty of imitators, but few of them manage to capture that ineffable holy-shit magic that set the blogs ablaze all those years ago. Which is why Paul’s sudden, unexpected return feels so special.
Not counting the (admittedly incredible) leaked demos that surfaced in 2013, “Do You Love Her Now” and “He” are Paul’s first new songs since “Jasmine” in 2012, and they’re good reminders of exactly why people care so much about this dude who never actually releases any music. “He” in particular is a stunner, slowly building from its insinuating “Eye Of The Tiger” into an alien ’80s dancefloor jam full of scratchy Prince guitar and an entire universe of amorphously bubbling synths. The future is here, and we can only hope it brings more Jai Paul songs with it. –Peter