Kelly Clarkson, Sam Smith, and Zayn Malik are among the artists with fresh tunes

By Nolan FeeneyEric Renner Brown and Madison Vain
September 08, 2017 at 01:57 PM EDT
Al Pereira/WireImage; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images; C Flanigan/FilmMagic

Every Friday, artists drop anticipated albums, surprise singles, and hyped collaborations. As part of New Music Friday, EW’s music team chooses some of the essential new tunes. From Kelly Clarkson to St. Vincent, here are some of the week’s most noteworthy releases. Got Spotify? Stream all of EW’s picks by following our playlist (embedded below) for this week.

Kelly Clarkson, “Love So Soft”

EW’s new cover star is finally making the soul album she’s wanted to make since junior high, and it sounds as natural for her as anything else she’s done in her 15-year career. Produced by longtime collaborator Jesse Shatkin, the first single from her new LP Meaning of Life shows off the full color and richness of Clarkson’s voice — and deftly pays tribute to classic R&B while still sounding fresh. “This is a grown-ass woman’s record,” she tells EW. “This isn’t a record I could have made at the age of 20. This is a record you make when you’ve lived.” —Nolan Feeney

Tove Lo, “Disco Tits”

What, did you think pop’s No. 1 thrill-seeker was going to tone it down on the follow-up to last year’s heart-pumping Lady Wood? “I’m fully charged, nipples are hard, ready to go,” she purrs on this — surprise! — disco-tinged first taste of the upcoming Blue Lips, which she made with longtime producing partners the Struts. “This album is the final chapters of Lady Wood,” the singer tells EW. “It connects to the story about sweet escape, passion, pain, and adrenaline. It’s going to be more dramatic than phase one, both lyrically and in sound.” Revisit EW’s 2016 profile of Tove Lo here. —N.F.

Sam Smith, “Too Good at Goodbyes”

When we first met Smith in 2014, he was begging a one-night stand to stay with his Grammy-winning sad-guy anthem “Stay With Me.” Three years later, he’s still down in the dumps — but now he’s the one calling the shots and deciding who stays and who goes. “I’m never gonna let you close to me, even though you mean the most to me / ‘cause every time I open up it hurts,” he sings on the first single from his second album. ‘Atta boy, Sam — we’re going to stay with this song for a while. —N.F.

Zayn feat. Sia, “Dusk Till Dawn”

You’re going to need some new light fixtures: The former One Direction heartthrob’s explosive new Sia duet is basically “Chandelier” part 2, and it comes with an epic music video directed by Marc Webb and starring Girls’ Jemima Kirke. —N.F.

Princess Nokia, 1992 Deluxe

If you’re not familiar with this New York City rapper, start with this should-be-iconic treatise on the word “bitch” — and then check out this deluxe re-release of her 1992 mixtape, which comes outfitted with eight new tracks like the tongue-twisting “G.O.A.T.” —N.F.

Kip Moore, Slowheart

On his third album, the Georgia-bred country rocker leans heavily on his classic-rock influences for a set that’s at turns intimate, devil-may-care, and flirtatious. Highlights include “Fast Women,” a searing anthem for hard-to-pin-down wanderers everywhere. And with a molasses groove and an impossible-to-resist melody, boy, does it feel good. —Madison Vain

The National, Sleep Well Beast

Like its gray-scale album art, the beloved indie-rock group’s seventh studio LP is a somewhat bleak affair. But the National’s top-notch instrumentalists continue to strike out in compelling directions — just listen to the wall of guitars on “Turtleneck” — while singer Matt Berninger’s lyrics remain as elegantly devastating as ever. —Eric Renner Brown

St. Vincent, “Los Ageless”

“It is definitely speaking to the manic panic of our time,” St. Vincent’s Annie Clark told EW of her fifth album, Masseduction. Until this week, she’d only released the cinematic “New York”; “Los Ageless” ups the equation’s “manic” factor, with the lurching guitar pyrotechnics for which Clark has become known. And the lyrics are as lacerating as the instrumental: “How can anybody have you and lose you,” Clark posits, “and not lose their minds, too?” —E.R.B.

Neil Young, Hitchhiker

Young can shred, but he’s often at his best when the fuzz and distortion are stripped away. The legendary singer-songwriter recorded this solo acoustic album in a single night — Aug. 11, 1976 — and it’s sat in his archives until now. Some tracks (“Powderfinger,” “Pocahontas”) appeared in subsequent full-band formats, while others (“Hawaii,” “Give Me Strength”) were never previously released. Whether they’re new versions or fresh tunes, all 10 tracks are revelations. —E.R.B.

Jack Johnson, All The Light Above It Too

The pop-rocker’s first album since 2013 hits his mellow sweet spot — and also carries a political message, with lyrics addressing topics from pollution to the policies of President Donald Trump. For more about the project, revisit EW’s premiere of standout track “You Can’t Control It.” —E.R.B.

Alvvays, Antisocialites

After breaking out in 2014 with their self-titled debut and its wistful single “Archie, Marry Me,” the indie-pop group brings more beach-worthy vibes on their second album, Antisocialites. Summer’s ending nominally, but the full-length promises to keep the season’s spirit going well into fall. —E.R.B.

Chad VanGaalen, Light Information

What would it sound like if the Killers’ Brandon Flowers fronted Beck’s early noise-folk experiments? You could do worse than the seventh full-length from Canadian singer-songwriter Chad VanGaalen. Lo-fi and unassuming, Light Information’s plain production starkly juxtaposes with VanGaalen’s eminently crafted songs. —E.R.B.

Listen to a playlist of the tracks from this week’s New Music Friday above.