EW's Friday Five: Sturgill Simpson rocks, the Jonas Brothers (sorta) go country, and more best songs of the week
Every Friday, EW runs down the five best songs of the week. In today’s edition, Sturgill Simpson kicks the outlaw country label to the curb, the Jonas Brothers team up with Diplo, and Young M.A. comes for the crown.
Sturgill Simpson — “Fastest Horse in Town”
Anyone who says guitar music is dead hasn’t listened to the new Sturgill Simpson record, which was made for slugging whiskey and cranking stereos to 11. The grinding seven-minute closer “Fastest Horse in Town” serves as Sound & Fury’s true north, combining sludgy riffs with spitfire solos, as Sturgill does some hard-earned reflection: “I’ve been wasting all my best days/ I’ve invested all my worst ways/ I’ve been thinking about all the things/ I should have never left behind.” The 41-year-old country rocker has always balked at the outlaw label. This time, he’s shaking it off for good.
Tegan and Sara — “Hold My Breath Until I Die”
Most of us avoid high school memories if we can; better to focus on the present than that one time you tripped on the stairs in front of your crush. Beloved duo Tegan and Sara are taking the opposite approach on their newest effort by unearthing diaristic songs they wrote as teens. “Hold My Breath Until I Die” — one of many terrifically melodramatic titles — is a quirky bit of ‘80s pop-rock, with an anthemic chorus and bridge tailor-made for the TikTok set (or really, anyone who once experienced the rush and anguish of high school stress): “If I hold my breath until I die, I will be alright.”
Zedd with Kehlani — “Good Thing”
The R&B singer Kehlani is known for brooding slow jams about love won and lost. Here, she switches it up by teaming with dance maestro Zedd for the subtle flex of “Good Thing.” “I buy myself fast cars, just so I can drive them real f—in’ slow,” she sings over a waltzing, shimmering beat. But it isn’t all braggadocio. By the time we get to the chorus, the song turns into one about being content with yourself and what you already have. “I already got everything I need,” sings Kehlani. “The best things in life are already mine.”
Thomas Wesley aka Diplo feat. Jonas Brothers — “Lonely”
Off Diplo’s upcoming country-pop album (wait, don’t go!), this collaboration with the reunited sibling trio takes sonic cues from recent crossover hits like “Meant to Be.” (Thankfully, “Lonely” isn’t nearly as dreadful and incessant as the 2018 hit from Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha.) Here, the Jonas Brothers trade verses about spending quality time with a special someone before hitting a predictably indelible chorus. The track — debuted with a music video that pokes fun at Diplo livestreaming Joe Jonas’ Las Vegas wedding to Sophie Turner earlier this year — serves as a perfect bookend to the brothers’ ridiculously productive summer, which saw the release of a No. 1 album and a full tour (which runs through 2020).
Young M.A. — “No Mercy (Intro)”
On a recent Funk Flex freestyle, Young M.A. called out the lack of praise she receives in current best rapper debates (“I’m a GOAT but still I’m hardly mentioned”). Thankfully, it only seems to have fueled her fire. The blazing “No Mercy” off new album Herstory in the Making is a lightning-quick showcase of the Brooklyn artist’s skills as a lyricist: “Took the cold out my heart, went and put it on a watch/ Middle finger hangin’ out the Benz, feel like Pac/ Spittin’ on your cameras, bandana with the knot/ Competition lookin’ for me, I was waitin’ at the top.” This isn’t just an album intro, it’s a wake-up call for anyone who’s slept on her.