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.
What a week! We got a Sky Ferreira and Charli XCX collab, a batshit new 1975 song, a new Taylor Swift album, a new Brockhampton album, and not one but two Lana Del Rey songs. That’s a lot of big music to wrap our heads around. You’ll find some of those, and the rest of the week’s best new songs, below.
The 1975’s last album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, arrived just about nine months ago. By now, you’ve had some time to adjust. You’ve had some time to wrap your head around titles such as “I Like America & America Likes Me,” you’ve had time to absorb the song about a guy falling in love with the internet, you’ve had time to embrace the initially what-the-shit lyrics of “Love It If We Made It” as transmissions from a generational anthem. And then, because this is what they do now, the 1975 are back to blow it all up.
This band has already proven themselves to be omnivorous, to be shape-shifters. They transform, over and over, across an album. But even with the ever-broadening array of genres the 1975 try out, nothing could’ve prepared us for “People,” the first official song from Notes On A Conditional Form. We’re used to being surprised by the 1975 at this point. But, really, where the fuck did this come from?
It’s not just that “People” is a blistering, caustic noise-punk track with a video in which Matty Healy channels Marilyn Manson. The single and its accompanying clip are another bold example of just how A Lot this band can be, and how effective they are in that space. Forget those Kanye and Trump references; now, Healy’s singing about his generation wanting to fuck Barack Obama while the video depicts him suicide bombing into an explosion of hearts and Facebook likes. Everything about “People” is an explosion, actually — its sound, sure, but that sound also signals the 1975 once more obliterating our perception of what they’re capable of. –Ryan
“I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again” starts out prettily enough: a lovely little ballad laced with moody synths and acoustic guitar, exploring the ambivalence that comes with reigniting a failed romance. And then at the chorus, out of nowhere, a massive serrated synth bass riff comes ripping through the song, and suddenly Mura Masa and Clairo’s tender Spotify-core offering has morphed into the second coming of Basement Jaxx’s immortal big beat jock jam “Where’s Your Head At.” It’s a startling, energizing, triumphant creative choice, one that perfectly mirrors the sensation of letting yourself get swept into passion’s dangerous thrall all over again. Contrary to the song title, I find it difficult not to listen on repeat. –Chris
“Do you feel the same thing that I do?” Alex Menne asks on the first single from Great Grandpa’s really great sophomore album. “Mono No Aware” is a song about the fickleness of memory, the big inexplicable feeling of beautiful loss, each moment gone before it even starts. The band frames this collective loss in a series of lessons from childhood half-remembered: lying about death, coming to terms with trauma. They evoke these massive themes in a gently loping drawl, like sand slipping between fingers. Compared to the band’s first album, it’s a huge step up: more emotionally mature and sonically ambitious, a reflection about the inescapable impermanence of humanity. “Do you feel the same thing I do?” is a vague question to build a song around, but Great Grandpa manage to give uncertainty a certain solidity that’s comforting and transcendent. –James
“Cross You Out” may not be about romantic love, but it’s still a breakup song. “When you’re not around, when you’re not around/ I’ll finally cross you out,” Charli XCX repeats over and over again in the chorus, clinging to the words like a mantra. She and Sky Ferreira sound vulnerable, triumphant, and heartbroken all at once, capturing the whole tangled swirl of emotion that comes with cutting someone out of your life. “I’ve become someone better/ Now I look in the mirror/ Feels so good to forget ya,” they sing together as the booming beat from A.G. Cook plots a course towards an uncertain yet hopeful future. They might forget you, but you won’t forget them. –Peter
“I’m wasted.” “Me and my friends, we miss rock ‘n’ roll.” “The culture is lit, and if this is it, I had a ball.” If you were to hear any of your friends drunkenly slur those words tonight, you would feel nothing but shame and pity and embarrassment. Lana Del Rey sings all of these lines on “The Greatest,” and she doesn’t just get away with them. She makes them sound like end-times profundities. Such is the power of Lana Del Rey in 2019. She can imply that the late Dennis Wilson is now in the place that the Beach Boys sang about on their most detested song — one that they recorded years after Wilson died. She can also follow up “Kanye West is blonde and gone” with “‘Life On Mars?’ ain’t just a song.” She can do anything. She’s a wizard.
“The Greatest” is a gauzy ballad about the apocalypse — about savoring all the memories of decadence you have accumulated, since you’re sure these will be the last memories of decadence that anyone gets to enjoy. That’s a hell of a burden for a song. But torch-crooning over Jack Antonoff’s funeral pianos and reverb-dazzled guitar-howls, she makes anxiety sound like acceptance. If that’s not a superhuman feat, I don’t know what is. –Tom