New year, new playlist: 16 songs to hear now
From J. Cole’s funky-smooth rap to Zayn and Taylor Swift’s sexy-cool duet, add these jams to make the freshest playlist of 2017:
Zayn & Taylor Swift, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)”
The best thing yet about the second film installment of E L James’ mom-porn juggernaut: Taylor Swift’s sultry side—that girl can coo!—entangles perfectly with Zayn’s brooding style on this lead song from the soundtrack.
Noah Cyrus feat. Labrinth, “Make Me (Cry)”
With a family full of musicians—there’s pop-hippie Miley, country king Billy Ray, and Metro Station vocalist Trace—it was only a matter of time before the youngest Cyrus picked up the mic too. Yet judging by this experimental, minimalist ballad, it’s clear the teen has a vision all her own.
The xx, “On Hold”
No wallflowers here: The first single from the introspective British trio’s forthcoming album suggests a brighter, cheerier sound, thanks to Jamie xx’s stutter-step beats and one killer sample of Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).”
MUNA, “I Know a Place”
Fans of Haim and Tegan and Sara will dig this SoCal group, who deliver a powerful and ultra-catchy pep talk for the LGBT community.
Erik Hassle, “Missing You”
The Swedish crooner, who studied at the same music school that groomed Robyn and Tove Lo, mixes nostalgic R&B melodies with modern electro-pop production on an emotional tribute to a loved one who passed away.
File this uplifting empowerment anthem between inspirational hits from Katy Perry and Sia—it’s a firework for sure. The pop upstart FLETCHER tackles such tough issues as body image, abuse, and homophobia, yet she never comes off as preachy or trite like an after-school special.
Sage the Gemini, “Now and Later”
If the bouncy flute loop sounds familiar, that’s because the Bay Area rapper’s candy-themed new single has been soundtracking a popular Snapchat filter. (You know, the one with the tinted sunglasses.) Good news: There’s a full version that lasts more than 30 seconds.
Zara Larsson, “I Would Like (Gorgon City Remix)”
The feisty track from the Swedish starlet was already a treat for subwoofers, but a subtle remix from electronic duo Gorgon City puts extra oomph behind the original’s house groove.
Dua Lipa, “Room For 2”
What do you get when you mix a skittering electro beat, a raw soulful vocal, and lyrics warning someone that karma’s a bitch? The fifth(!) song from the English art-pop star’s upcoming debut album—and her most seductive jam yet.
Allison Crutchfield, “Dean’s Room”
One half of indie rock’s coolest sibling pair—her twin sister is Waxahatchee mastermind Katie Crutchfield—previews her debut solo LP with a synth-kissed, dance-around-in-your-underwear slice of giddy guitar pop.
THANKS feat. Sam Sparro, “Your Man”
Start lacing up your skates: This funky, disco-tinged collaboration between the Danish duo THANKS and Australian singer Sam Sparro is fit for a roller rink.
J. Cole, “Foldin Clothes”
On the best cut off 4 Your Eyez Only, the rapper revels in domestic bliss as he rhymes about cohabiting with a very pregnant lover. Clean laundry? Yep. Netflix? Def. Bonus points for big-upping the California almond lobby: “I never thought I’d see the day I’m drinking almond milk!”
The Flaming Lips, “Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)”
“The Floyd Song (Sunrise),” a highlight off Miley Cyrus’ 2015 collaboration with the Flaming Lips, gets a second life as “Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)” on their new album. The Lips’ version jettisons Miss Miley’s twee vibes for dub-y psychedelia.
Kid Cudi, “By Design”
Steel drums, an Auto-Tuned André 3000, multiple lyrical references to feng shui—like much of Kid Cudi’s latest album, Passion, Pain & Demon’ Slayin, “By Design” is a hodgepodge of things that shouldn’t work together but totally do.
Clean Bandit feat. Sean Paul & Annie-Marie, “Rockabye”
The EDM crew’s latest U.K. hit is the best Ace of Base song that Ace of Base never recorded.
Nadia Rose, “Puddycat”
Over a beat straight out of the Missy/Timbaland playbook, the British rapper quotes Tweety Bird while confronting the imitators jacking her steez.